Fernando Lopes da Silva would be 85 today. Born in Lisbon on 24 January 1935, the Portuguese neuroscientist died on 7 May 2019, in the Netherlands, where he lived for more than 50 years.
In 1959, he finished his medical degree at the University of Lisbon, with an average overall score of 19 marks. However, clinical practice never fascinated him, and he ended up as a researcher. He always wanted to work outside Portugal and, at the start of the Colonial War, he was removed from his military duties because he suffered from myopia. This factor allowed his professional career to take place in the Netherlands.
In the northwest of Europe, his career as a lecturer and a researcher was split between the Universities of Utrecht, Twente and Amsterdam. In 1985, he was elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and, ten years later, he was appointed an honorary member of the British Society for Clinical Neurophysiology. Between 1993 and 2000, he was director of the newly created Institute of Neurobiology at the University of Amsterdam. In 2001, the Queen of the Netherlands gave him the rank of Knight of the Nederlandse Leeuw Order.
In 2000, in Portugal, he was appointed visiting professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon and, in that same year, the then President of the Republic Jorge Sampaio distinguished him as High Officer of the Order of Santiago da Espada for his remarkable and prosperous career in the field of neuroscience. Five years later, he became a professor at the Instituto Superior Técnico and it was at this institution that he fostered the relationship between engineering and medicine, with the creation of a degree in Biomedical Engineering. The Universities of Lisbon and Porto distinguished Lopes da Silva as Doctor Honoris Causa in 1997 and in 2002, respectively.
Alongside his academic career, he collaborated with numerous institutions that promote research and knowledge production. He was coordinator of the Life Sciences panel of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and monitoring and evaluation external member of the Institute of Pathology and Molecular Immunology of the University of Porto (IPATIMUP). Lopes da Silva was also responsible for the affirmation and recognition of the BIAL Foundation in the international scientific panorama. He was a member of this foundation since 1997 and, later, President of the Scientific Council. In 2018, he took on the presidency of the panel of the BIAL Award in Biomedicine, which distinguishes a work published in the last ten years that promotes scientific and technological advances in the area of Biomedical science.
Among other distinctions that mark Professor Fernando Lopes da Silva's remarkable career, his contribution to science is indubitable and vast. His importance for the scientific community extends from the westernmost point in Europe, where he was born and grew up, to the Netherlands, where his path came to an end at the age of 84.