Paloma Mas awarded with the Narcís Monturiol Medal for the scientific and technological merit
Paloma Mas, CSIC research professor and CRAG vice-director, has been awarded with the Narcís Monturiol Medal. This award, instituted by the Catalan Government in 1982, honours individuals and organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to the development of science and technology in Catalonia. Yesterday, the Catalan Government announced the ten researchers –six men and four women- and the institution that have been recognized in the 2020 edition of the awards.
Born in the historical Mediterranean city of Cartagena (Murcia, Spain), Paloma Mas got soon in contact with plant research during her doctoral studies at the CEBAS-CSIC. She conducted her postdoctoral research in California (USA), first at the Scripps Research Institute, studying how plants respond to viral infections, and later on at the Institute for Childhood and Neglected Diseases, studying the circadian rhythms in plants, her primary field of study ever since. In 2004, Paloma Mas moved back to the Mediterranean area, where she has been contributing to our understanding of the molecular basis underlying the circadian rhythms in plants with the research group she leads at CRAG. Seminal studies in her lab include the discovery of the molecular function of a key clock component connecting morning and evening clock activities (Science, 2012). The results overturned the prevailing model formulated back in 2002. Another seminal work from her lab addressed the issue of how the individual cellular clocks are synchronized at the level of the whole plant (Cell, 2015). The study identified the shoot apex as a master clock functioning as the suprachiasmatic nucleus clocks in mammals. A continuation of this study has allowed her lab to identify the actual signal (a small clock protein) responsible for the synchronization of shoots and roots (Nature Plants, 2020). Other important discoveries include the findings showing that the plant circadian clock controls the timing of cell division (Developmental Cell, 2018) and identification of the molecular mechanism by which the plant controls the rhythms of nascent RNAs (The Plant Cell, 2018).
Paloma Mas’ scientific contributions have been recognized with awards and distinctions such as the EURYI-EFS award (2006), EMBO elected membership (2013), the Carmen and Severo Ochoa Prize (2013), the special mention for the Life Sciences Award of the City of Barcelona (2015) and the Aschoff’s Ruler award (2019), among others. Since 2018, Paloma Mas is vice-director of CRAG, and she will be the scientific director of the new Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence project awarded to CRAG.