News: CRAG celebrates its 15th anniversary
Last Friday 11th of May the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) celebrated its 15th anniversary with two meetings, a scientific and institutional event in the morning and an afternoon session in which science and its context were discussed.
The morning event, which took place at CosmoCaixa Barcelona, opened with the interventions of the Secretary of Universities and Research of the Government of Catalonia, Arcadi Navarro, and the Spanish Secretary of State for Research, Innovation and Development, Carmen Vela. The two representatives agreed that the CRAG is an example of successful collaboration between different institutions. Subsequently, José Luis Riechmann, ICREA research professor and director of CRAG since 2013, reviewed the current situation of the centre, underlining the importance of international collaborations and the impact that the “Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence” recognition has represented for the CRAG.
The keynote talk “Feeding the future: cultivating new horizons in plant research” by Susan McCouch, professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University (USA) and member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), highlighted how research on plant genomes allow us to improve our capability to obtain more and better food, promoting an efficient and ecologically sustainable use of resources.
In a round table discussion, different actors involved in the genesis of the CRAG looked back at history, from the “CSIC-IRTA Consortium of Plant Molecular Genetics” –created in 2003 with the aim of bringing together the fundamental research carried out at CSIC and the applied research of IRTA– to the current Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG). Looking to the future, four female researchers who joined the CRAG in different stages talked about the investigations they carry out in their laboratories. The closing of the morning event was in charge of the representatives of the institutions that form the CRAG consortium (CSIC, IRTA, UAB and UB) and the General Directorate for Research of the Catalan Government.
At the afternoon session in Casa Convalescència, the relationships between science, politics and philosophy were discussed in two round tables. The first one put together people who have or have had responsibilities in the establishment and management of scientific policies, both at a regional level, with Joan Manuel del Pozo and Andreu Mas-Colell, and state, with Cristina Garmendia and Carmen Vela. The second round table generated a stimulating debate among academics with different philosophical perspectives on the way in which research is developed and structured, as well as the need for science to take into account the social effects it can produce and the myriad of ethical aspects it raises.
The evening ended with a lively conversation about the management of the research activity between the founding director of the CRAG, Pere Puigdomènech, and the chemist and former vice-president of the Spanish Government, Alfredo Pérez-Rubalcaba.