The Valencian doctor and biochemist Santiago Grisolia, one of the forerunners of modern scientific dissemination in Spain, managed to bring science and technology to the international level, and from a position of responsibility he knew how to move like a “fish in water” in political circles. , social and cultural.
Grisolia, who died this Thursday at the age of 99, showed great enthusiasm for science throughout his life, but without a millimeter away from reality and current events, on which he expressed opinions on controversial cases.
In May 2014, then-King Juan Carlos I awarded Grisolia the title of Marquis for his “long and commendable research and teaching work”, “contributions to scientific knowledge” and in recognition of the monarch’s “royal appreciation”.
The deterioration of Grisolia’s health forced him on June 7, 2016, when the decision to award Rey Jaime I was announced, to give up witnessing its reading for the first time in the history of these awards; Twelve days later, he was admitted to the Clinical Hospital of Valencia and found himself vulnerable.
After this hospital episode, Grisolia continued to attend various public events, although her participation in them was increasingly limited.
In September 2017, his wife, also researcher Frances Thompson, with whom he had two children, died at the age of 99, which was a heavy blow for the Valencian scientist.
Santiago Grisolia graduated in medicine from the University of Valencia in 1944 and was given the opportunity to study in the United States on a scholarship from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Although the fellowship was for one year at the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology of New York University, where he was the first Spanish postdoctoral fellow to have the scientist Severo Ochoa, this “temporary stay” would last more than three years. decades.
He always boasted that he was a student of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1959 with Severo Ochoa, with whom he maintained a great friendship and was in fact the guardian of his personal and scientific will and guarded his scientific archive and his personal library.
After a long stay in Wisconsin, where he served as professor and chairman of the department of molecular biochemistry at the University of Kansas and director of the center’s laboratory, he returned to Spain in 1977 to head the Institute for Cytological Research in Valencia.
His work focused on topics such as the enzymology of nitrogen metabolism, phosphoglycerate metabolism, protein turnover and degradation, and the control of tubulin synthesis in the brain.
In 1988, he was appointed president of UNESCO’s Scientific Coordinating Committee for the Human Genome Project, from where he made a special contribution to the scientific dissemination of the human genome, becoming in Valencia one of the nerve centers where the discovery of the map was discussed. Genetics, which is considered one of the most important achievements of mankind.
His research experience and concern for the placement of Spanish science and technology at the international level led him to promote international congresses in recent decades and to write books such as “Vivir para la Ciencia”, where he criticized the lack of institutional and political support for development. Science research in Spain.
He has always believed that scientists have an “obligation” to engage with and respond to issues related to their work, as well as other pressing issues.
The Grisolia, Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific and Technical Research in 1990, has always moved like a “fish in water” in political, social or cultural circles.
In 1995 he was appointed Advisor to the President of the Generalitat Valenciana on Science and Technology, a year later President of the Consell Valencià de Cultura – a position he still holds – and in 1998 to the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Princip Felipe Science Museum. in Valencia and on the Advisory Board of the Cuenca Science Museum.
As Executive President of the Rey Jaime I Award, established by the Valencia Foundation for Advanced Studies and the Generalitat Valenciana and which celebrates its twenty-second anniversary in 2020, he has managed to bring dozens of Nobel laureates to Valencia each year and secure one. Top economic welfare awards across the country.
On October 16, at the press conference during the video call of Jules Hoffmann for the 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine, before the award discussion, Santiago Grisolia attended in a wheelchair, but about a month later, on October 24, in November, he gave an interview to the EFE agency, where he looked fine and with the help of a cane He was walking.
During the award ceremony of the 32nd edition, which was marked by the coronavirus pandemic, the president of Generalitat Valenciana, Simo Puig, highlighted the “enthusiasm” of Santiago Grisolia, who he said was “forever young” and “a constant person”. The light that radiates science from Valencia to the world.”
The Consell Valencià de Cultura – the Generalitat Valenciana’s advisory body for culture – supported the declaration of the bullfight as a Site of Cultural Interest (BIC), proposing that the “Boss al train” carry lights in its horns instead of flames. and called for “arson” to be considered a crime against humanity.
He also repeatedly argued that the Ministries of Education and Health should “disappear”, wondering what the reason for their existence was if the transfers to the autonomous communities had already been made.
Another aspect of his was literary: in 2009 he published the novel “El enigma de los grecos”, where he mixed fictional and autobiographical stories from the hand of Peter Smith, a young volunteer of the International Brigades who took part in the adventure of one of the most well-kept secrets of the Templars.
Source: El Diario