CM. The 2020 Nobel Prizes of Physiology or Medicine, and Chemistry. A short note on these discoveries, from two distinguished Venezuelan researchers.

Rafael Rangel-Aldao, Editor

The first week of October is the season to announce the winners of the Nobel Prizes of sciences such as Physics, Physiology or Medicine and Chemistry. CientMed celebrates this occasion by inviting two well known Venezuelan scientists to comment on the significance of the last two prizes, and share their corresponding deep knowledge and experience on the techniques, yes, techniques, based on the discoveries recognized this year. We are very fortunate to have among us, here in Caracas, Dr. Flor Pujol, a graduate in biology from Universidad Simón Bolívar, with an MSc and Phil. Sc., from the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research, IVIC. As a full Professor at IVIC, Flor is widely recognized as a leader on the molecular epidemiology and evolution of hepatitis viruses, with singular works on viruses infecting Amerindians from Venezuela. With such a background, Dr. Pujol is in a unique position to comment on the significance of the Nobel Prize of Medicine or Physiology awarded this year to, Harvey J Alter, Michael Houghton, and Charles M Rice, “For the discovery of hepatitis C virus. On the same level of expertise but on the novel technique of CRISPR and the Nobel Prize of Chemistry this year, we also invited, Dr. José Luis Ramírez, a well known molecular biologist and a graduate from Universidad Central de Venezuela, with a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, who for many years is recognized as the undisputed leader of genomic studies, on the telomeres of the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas Disease. The readers of ScienMed may remember the very first article of this journal, on August 5th, 2020, authored by Dr. Ramirez, which anticipated the Nobel Prize of Chemistry 2020, the CRISPR technologies, awarded jointly to, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna, “For the development of a method for genome editing”. We hope that our readers may enjoy both Commentaries by Drs. Pujol and Dr. Ramírez, respectively.

Dr. Flor Pujol

Dr. Flor H. Pujol was born in Venezuela, October 10, 1959, and has two children. She performed all her studies in Venezuela: Bachelor in Biology Suma Cum Laude (1982) of Universidad Simón Bolívar, Venezuela. Magister Sc. (1985) and Philosophus Sc. (1989) in Biology, Magna Cum Laude, from Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC). She is at present full Professor at IVIC, Head of the Laboratorio de Virología Molecular, Fellow of the Venezuelan “Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales” and of the Latin American Academy of Sciences. She was awarded with the Lorenzo Mendoza Academic Award from Fundación Empresas Polar, in 2009. She is also the President of the “Asociación de investigadores del IVIC”. She has published more than 150 scientific publications, has been cited 3.219 times, with an h=31, Google Scholar. She is a regional leader on molecular epidemiology and evolution of hepatitis viruses (hepatitis A, B, C, D, E viruses, GBV-C and TTV), with unique studies on viruses infecting Amerindians from Venezuela. She was also involved in the first report of HIV-2 circulation in Venezuela, and the molecular description of a devastating epidemic of HIV-1 in Venezuela. She has also collaborated in the study of genetic diversity and molecular virology of dengue virus and gastroenteritis viruses.

José Luis Ramírez Ochoa

Dr. Ramírez received his BSc degree as a biologist at the Faculty of Sciences, Universidad Central de Venezuela, and obtained a Ph.D. degree in Molecular biology at The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore Maryland, US.  In his career as a Professor of Genetics and Microbiology (1969-1994), he was the founder and Director of the Graduate Studies in Cell Biology, Facultad de Ciencias, UCV. Between 1994 to 1997 was, a Visiting researcher and Visiting Professor, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute and Pathobiology at the University of Washington, Seattle, US, and since 1997, a full professor at the Center of Biotechnology Fundación Instituto de Estudios Avanzados (IDEA). From 2000 to 2017 was the Coordinator of the United Nations University Biotechnology Program for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNU-BIOLAC). 2000-2017. Among the many awards and distinctions Dr. Ramirez received the National Prize of Science and Technology of Venezuela in 2005, and the Order Jose Maria Vargas from UCV in its first class in 2000. Ramirez is a Member of the Latino American Academy of Sciences (ACAL). Ramirez´s Research interests are in Trypanosomatids molecular biology and Human Genetics, and participated in many national and international Scientific Meetings, and is the author of more than 140 scientific works, with 4.026 citations and h=31 as reported by Google Scholar. Besides, Ramirez has been a Biotechnology advisor for several companies and institutions around the world.

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