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Researching, Educating, Dialoguing. The lessons that we learnt from José Mariano Gago (1948-2015)

Life and Matter Sciences International Symposium June 1-2, 2016 Madrid

General information

Venue: Fundación Ramón Areces c/ Vitruvio, 5. 28006 Madrid

In cooperation with:

Academia Europaea and Ciência Viva (the Portuguese Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture)


Federico Mayor ZaragozaPresident of the Scientific Council of the Fundación Ramón Areces. President of the Foundation Culture of Peace and Member of the Academia Europaea

Ricard GuerreroAcademic Director, Barcelona Knowledge Hub. Member of the Academia Europaea

  • Description
  • Programme

On April 17, 2015, in Lisbon, the city where he was born in 1948, died José Mariano Gago, former Minister of Science and Technology (1995-2002) and Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education (2005-2011) of Portugal. Gago played a crucial role in the design of plans for the development of science, technology and innovation, not only in his country but throughout Europe. He did it by designing and promoting several organisms that played major roles in the structure and organization of science in the European Union during the last thirty years, particularly in the creation and initial impulse of the Academia Europaea, the European Science Foundation and the European Research Council.

The proposed Symposium will remember the huge task carried out by Gago, and his outstanding intellectual ability. Firstly, through his work as a physicist of elementary particles at CERN, Geneva, a centre to which he devoted many years of his professional career. Then, in the organization of science, technology and higher education in Portugal. And finally, in the organization of several European bodies that have been essential to develop the governance of science in the EU and, through this, contributing to improve the organization of science around the world.

This Symposium will pay Gago a tribute on the occasion of the first anniversary of his death by remembering his work, which was essential for the improvement of the Portuguese university, and for the setting up and development of several organisms that have allowed the implementation of programmes of the highest scientific, technological and innovative significance at the EU level. In addition, the Symposium will remember Gago's decisive role to promote high quality standards for global research, especially among young scientists. Gago also played a crucial role to make that scientific culture were considered one of the main bases to achieve a free, democratic society, in which knowledge and education were highly appreciated values. One of his major achievements was the creation and early development of Ciência Viva, the Portuguese Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture. Launched in 1996, it had its most direct manifestation in the organization of science centres around Portugal and made it possible to convey science and technology to the youngsters of the whole country.

Finally, we should not forget Gago's seminal role in the creation and organisation of the Academia Europaea, founded in London in 1988, one of whose objectives is to help in the development of European policy for research, education and training at the highest levels. Those objectives tried to harmonize and coordinate the traditionally diverse and particular cultures on science and education in different European countries. Through this "unity in diversity," the original aim of the founders of the Academia Europaea was to create a genuine area of intellectual excellence by recognizing the quality and relevance of all fields of knowledge, and leveraging the experience, culture and tradition of the huge conglomerate of cultures and traditions that make up Europe.

José Mariano Gago taught us many lessons. The proposed Symposium would remember all those that he left to us, and impulse us to follow his example, to achieve a more educated and better prepared society, able to face the new challenges that contemporary times are presenting to our old and young Continent. Only through knowledge, education and dialogue will we be able to deal with the melting pot of cultures and civilisations that have characterised Europe.

Recalling one fortunate yet shocking sentence by Federico Mayor, we could say:

"Si vis pacem, para verbum".

Wednesday, 1


Document delivery


Welcoming remarks

Manuel Heitor
Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal.

Carlos Andradas
President, Universidad Complutense. Madrid.

Federico Mayor Zaragoza
President of the Scientific Council. Fundación Ramón Areces.
President, Foundation Culture of Peace.
Member of the Academia Europaea.

Ricard Guerrero
Academic Director of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub.
Member of the Academia Europaea.

First session

Inaugural lecture: Knowledge and the collective ambition for Europe: Learning from José Mariano Gago in policy making

Manuel Heitor
Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal.




The Academia Europaea, challenging the future

Sierd Cloetingh
President of the Academia Europaea.


The scientific career (the ICREA and Serra Hunter programmes)

Genoveva Martí
Universidad de Barcelona.
Member of the Academia Europaea.


Development of a research centre of excellence (CNIO) and its relation with the citizen

María A. Blasco
Director, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO).


End of Session

Second session

Promotion and development of a science of excellence policy (the CERCA Institution)

Andreu Mas-Colell
Universidad Pompeu Fabra. Member of the Academia Europaea.




The European Science Foundation

Enric Banda
General secretary, European Science Foundation (1998-2003).
Member of the Academia Europaea.


Shaping EU cancer research policy: Towards a virtual European Cancer Institute

Julio E. Celis
Chair of the Science Policy Committee of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences. Danish Cancer Society Research Center.


End of Session

Thursday, 2

Third session


José Mariano Gago. Who he was; what he did

Rosalia Vargas
President, Ciência Viva. Portugal.


Science and research at and for the University

Carlos Andradas
President, Universidad Complutense. Madrid.




Foundation and development of the Federation of Scientific Societies of Spain (COSCE)

Joan J. Guinovart
President, International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB). 
Member of the Academia Europaea.


The European Research Council and its role to promote excellence in research at the European scenario

Núria Sebastián
Vice President, European Research Council.
Member of the Academia Europaea.


Reasons and unreasons of research at the University

Salvador Giner
Universidad de Barcelona.
Member of the Academia Europaea.


Closing Lecture: Particle Physics and Cosmology. Useless but Essential!

Sheldon L. Glashow
Boston University. Nobel Prize in Physics, 1979.


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