CBGP researchers awarded with UPM prizes during celebration of St Thomas Aquino´s day

The UPM celebrated the St Thomas Aquino´s day. During the ceremony two Group Leaders of the CBGP (UPM-INIA) were awarded with research prizes: Mark Wilkinson won the prize of the most cited UPM article and Luis Rubio won the prize of collaboration with private sector.


Dr. Mark Wilkinson is the principal investigator the CBGP Biological Informatics research group, and Isaac Peral Distinguished Researcher of the BBVA-UPM Industry Chair on Biotechnology. He is the leading author of the article “The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship” , published in the Scientific Data journal from Nature Publishing Group. In the 3 years since the article publication, the FAIR Principles paper has accumulated more than 950 citations according to Google Scholar, and is tracking in the top 1% of all research outputs followed by AltMetrics, and the #1 article of Scientific Data journal.


The authors of the publication unite their voices to call for better practices around the stewardship of digital research outputs – both data and tools – to achieve an Internet of data and services that is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). The recommendations include better data collection practices, better and more complete data and tool annotation, machine-accessible representations, increased adherence-to and reuse of global standards, and more robust publication and post-publication stewardship practices. Adherence to the FAIR Principles will dramatically reduce the time and effort researchers invest in data discovery, cleansing, and integration. Also. FAIR will assist with transparency and reproducibility of research and will maximize the return-on-investment in research by governments and enterprises by ensuring maximal and optimal reuse of existing data in downstream studies.


The FAIR Principles have already been endorsed by the European Commission Directorate General for Research and Innovation as an underpinning for the European Open Science Cloud, and other EC research agencies such as Horizon 2020. Globally, the Principles have been endorsed by the American NIH in their “Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K)” initiative, and even by the leaders of the G20 Nations.


Prof. Luis Rubio is the Principal Investigator of the Biochemistry of Nitrogen Fixation group of the CBGP (UPM-INA). Prof. Rubio is currently Deputy Director of Scientific Infrastructures of the CBGP (UPM-INIA). He is a world leader in the study of the assembly of nitrogenase, an enzyme that has global ecological importance because it is responsible for fixing nitrogen, i.e. converting inert nitrogen gas into biologically active nitrogen.


In 2008 Prof. Rubio was awarded with an ERC Starting Grant and started a project in the area of bioengineering of hydrogen production for biofuel use. Later, on in 2011 and 2016, he received two strategic grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation  that aim to address the challenge of generating the first nitrogen-fixing plant. This strategic collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been awarded by UPM. Luis Rubio is the Principal Investigator of this project and has established a consortium with other researchers and experts to participate in this challenging project.


The long-term goal of the Nitrogen Fixation Engineering project (BNF Cereals) is to generate cereal varieties that require little or no nitrogen input and offer higher and more resilient yields, helping small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to increase benefits of crops and overcome poverty. This goal will be achieved by having plants obtain nitrogen from the atmosphere instead of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. The strategy is to transfer into the plants the bacterial genes necessary for the biosynthesis of nitrogenase, the protein complex that carries out nitrogen fixation. Until today it has been possible to transfer more than 10 genes necessary to form nitrogenase, most of them active.


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