Arkaitz Carracedo, Ikerbasque researcher at the CIC bioGUNE, and Fàtima Crispi, specialist doctor at the Centre for Maternal-Foetal Medicine (BCNatal) of Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, have been awarded the 2022 Fundación Occident Research Awards in the basic and clinical research categories, respectively. At this fourth edition, the Fundación Occident of Grupo Catalana Occidente once more recognises the work and projects of two young researchers working at the crossroads of diet, nutrition and health.

In this fourth edition, the awards recognise research in cancer and maternal-foetal medicine, further revealing the importance of food and nutrition in the prevention and treatment of diseases. The award-winning researchers will receive a prize of 35,000 euros each to support their scientific projects.

Arkaitz Carracedo received the award for his pioneering studies on the metabolic basis of prostate cancer and, specifically, on the effects that molecules called polyamines can have on the development of tumours or other diseases such as obesity.

Fàtima Crispi received the award for her research on the foetal development of babies with low birthweight, which is associated with a high perinatal morbi-mortality, and also has consequences on the cardiovascular health of these future children and adults. Based on a diet intervention involving pregnant women, Crispi and her team were able to reduce by 30% the number of babies with low birthweight, as well as the associated cardiovascular damage.

The 2022s awards

The Fundación Occident Research Awards
The dual goals of the Fundación Occident Research Awards, which are worth €35,000 in each category, are to encourage research in the field of diet and nutrition, and to support young researchers who are spearheading pioneering projects in this field.

For the first time in this fourth edition, the eligible researchers could be over 45 years of age – which had previously been the age limit for candidates – if they temporarily interrupted their career as a result of the birth or adoption of children. This way, the Fundación Occident reaffirms its commitment to gender equality, facilitating work-life balance and ensuring equal opportunities for all individuals.

The chairman of the Fundación Occident, Federico Halpern, explained at the opening of the ceremony that “we should all support research as much as we can, since it has an unparalleled transformative potential“. The Fundación Occident Research Awards have been presented annually since 2018. In Halpern’s words, “this initiative consolidates many of our values as a Foundation. We support the best research talent in our country in order to continue exploring the many ways in which diet and nutrition can improve our health. Thanks to this research, we will be able to improve the health and well-being of a large number of people”.

The jury for these awards is made up of prestigious Spanish researchers and includes, in addition to researcher María Blasco; Lina Badimón, Director of the Catalan Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences (ICCC-CSIC); Dr Carlos Mayaca, who recently retired as the Director of the Cardiology Department at the Clinical Hospital San Carlos in Madrid and Chairman of the FEC (Spanish Heart Foundation); and Pedro Mata, Chairman and founder of the Spanish Foundation of Familial Hypercholesterolaemia. Rounding out this year’s jury were the three winners of the 3rd edition of the Fundación Occident Research Awards: Maria Carmen Collado, from the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC); Borja Ibáñez, researcher at the National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) and cardiologist at the Fundación Jiménez Díaz; and Rubén Nogueiras, researcher at the Centre for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases (CIMUS) and a professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela. (USC).