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Antonio García Bellido

Prince of Asturias Award for Technical & Scientific Research 1984

Antonio García-Bellido (Madrid, Spain, 1936 - ) is a scientist specialised in the research into the genetics of cell development and differentiation.

He graduated in Biological Sciences from the Complutense University of Madrid in 1958 and earned a special prize for his PhD in Science in 1962. He subsequently furthered his studies at the Universities of Cambridge and Zurich, as well as at the California Institute of Technology. He was a visiting lecturer at the aforementioned institute, as well as at the University of Chicago and the Department of Molecular Biology in Sidney (Australia). Subsequent to obtaining a lectureship at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in 1974, he later held the position of director of the Genetics Institute and of the Centre for Molecular Biology from 1980 to 1981. He currently holds an honorary lectureship at the CSIC while carrying out his work at the Severo Ochoa Centre for Molecular Biology in Madrid.

García-Bellido is responsible for work of great importance in the field of the genetics of cell development and differentiation, addressing the problem of explaining the paradox of how, from a single cell, the egg or zygote, which contains all the genetic information for the functions of the adult organism, other cells are formed in successive divisions which are gradually differentiated in their form and function. These cells later group together in very precise formations, giving rise to the different tissues and organs. The methods employed in his research are highly original and his findings –of international renown– have opened the way to understanding the genetic mechanism of differentiation and morphogenesis in living beings. In the words of the English doctor and Nobel Prize-winner Francis Crick, the work of Antonio García-Bellido “has opened up a view to understanding the logic of development”. He has given over a hundred talks in Spain, Switzerland, Italy, the USA, Great Britain, Canada, France, Belgium, Australia and Japan, among other countries, and has published papers in numerous scientific journals.

Holder of honorary doctorates from the Universities of La Coruña, Barcelona, Oviedo and Salamanca, his work has been distinguished with the Leopold Mayer Prize of the French Academy of Sciences, the Santiago Ramón y Cajal National Prize for Scientific Research and the Severo Ochoa Chair in Biology. He is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences (USA), a fellow of The Royal Society (London) and president of the Spanish Society of Developmental Biology. He was awarded the first National Genetics Prize in 2009.

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