Thursday, September 29

“Science is done by women, although they do not end up reaching management positions”

A vindication of science from science, with special attention to the role of women. Two of the main researchers in the country, Margarita del Val, a biologist at the Severa Ochoa Molecular Biology Center of the CSIC, and María Blasco, director of the National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), have claimed the role of science and research in society, especially after the coronavirus crisis, during the table on Science at the festival for the X Anniversary of

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A science, the researchers have highlighted, that in this country is carried out above all by women, although sometimes this is not just transferred to command posts and, therefore, does not have as much visibility. “It is quite unknown that in many scientific careers, all Biomedicine at least, most of them are women. At the CNIO there are 70% women”, Blasco claimed. “Science is done by women, although they do not end up reaching management positions,” he added.

The two scientists have valued the positive moment that the sector is experiencing, although it has been at the cost of a global pandemic. “The power of science has been demonstrated. Faced with a circumstance that has affected countries, science has come to the rescue”, Blasco assessed.

Del Val, who became one of the social benchmarks, especially in the early stages of the coronavirus crisis, has highlighted that the speed with which it was possible to develop vaccines against COVID is due to the fact that a good part of the road had been covered previously, since for the first time there has been a global response to a problem that affected all countries. “It is the first example in the history of humanity in which many governments have coordinated to provide the necessary financing to get the vaccines out,” he said. “I hope that the power of science has been seen, a global, coordinated mechanism that can provide global answers.” But not in any way, not to impulses or urgent blows. “That is not bought with money, you have to build it,” he warned.

This whole situation has given him the opportunity to criticize past policies in Spain. “That in Spain has been precarious, science has been considered a luxury, it has been subsidized like this and when this happens and a crisis arrives, it is the first thing that is cut off”, he lamented. And so science does not progress: “A time of stability is needed to maintain a solid research body, not people fighting against the elements, but to have a ground that does not move, that is in contact with the pharmaceutical sector, with hospitals, that we can react to an epidemic.

The vaccines against the coronavirus, the scientists have recalled, were possible because the messenger RNA technology on which they were based was developed, it was not necessary to start from scratch. “BioNTech [una de las empresas que acabó desarrollando una vacuna contra la COVID] was developing vaccines against cancer with the same technology”, explained Blasco. And this path promises more advances in other fields.

“In theory we can use that same gene so that the immune system develops cells and we can also end cancer through vaccines,” he predicted.

Some progress, and a mentality that the virus alert pandemic has brought, which has also helped to better combat other subsequent situations, such as the monkeypox of recent weeks, both from science and from the population, which has another mentality, have valued the scientists.

“Vaccines are very good, the situation is very different and society has reacted differently. People at risk of monkeypox they knew the risks, they have been vaccinated and they have flattened the curve and that is important. That knowledge has remained”, she highlighted.

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