Maria Mota was awarded the Pessoa Prize and leaves an alert for political decision-makers
Maria M. Mota, Executive Director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM) of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon, was awarded the 2013 Pessoa Prize last Monday in the Grand Auditorium of Culturgest.
At 43 years of age, Maria Manuel Mota is one of the main world authorities on the study of Malaria and the youngest winner of the Pessoa Prize, a joint initiative of Expresso and Caixa Geral de Depósitos.
So as to ground its decision of December 2013 on the attribution of the Pessoa Prize, the jury stressed that nowadays Malaria is “one of the main causes of death on a worldwide scale”, and further underlined that the work supervised by Maria Manuel Mota "has developed crucial research geared towards discovering the mechanisms by which parasites develop in the human host”.
In her appreciation speech, Maria Manuel Mota drew attention to the difficulties faced by Science to meet the expectations of direct applicability on the part of political decision-makers for the approval of projects. She further stressed: “It smothers creativity, strangles the spirit and kills Science”.
She went on to state that it was “a huge privilege” to work in order to satisfy curiosity, which she defined as being “one of the most basic human needs”. She ended with the words “I feel grateful for being able to experience the pleasure of discovery, and I give my retribution by sharing with society the fruit of my work and that of many prominent members of my team over the past 12 years, Science belongs to everyone and is to be shared by everyone”.
Born in Vila Nova de Gaia in April 1971, she graduated in Biology from the University of Porto in 1992 and obtained a Master’s degree in Immunology from the same institution in 1994. Her PhD in Molecular Parasitology was conducted at the University College of London and she later obtained a post-doctoral fellowship at the New York Medical Center.
Upon her return to Portugal, she took the position of main researcher at the Instituto Gulbenkian da Ciência [Gulbenkian Institute of Science], and since 2005 she has coordinated the IMM laboratory for Malaria research. She is also a teacher at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon and was recently elected Executive Director of the IMM.
The Pessoa Prize is worth 60,000 Euros and aims to give visibility to personalities whose work has gained national recognition in the fields of Culture, Art and Science.
The jury members of this edition were Francisco Pinto Balsemão (Chair), Faria de Oliveira (Vice-Chair), António Barreto, Diogo Lucena, Eduardo Souto Moura, João Lobo Antunes, José Luis Porfírio, Maria de Sousa, Mário Soares, Rui Magalhães Baião, Rui Vieira Nery and Viriato Soromenho Marques.
Source: IMM Press Release