The Catalan government and the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation (FCRI) have given the Catalan National Research Award 2020 (PNR’20) jointly to the mathematician specialised in robotics and artificial intelligence, Carme Torras, and to the doctor and infectious disease specialist, Bonaventura Clotet. This 31st edition of the award recognises the career of the research professor of CSIC and head of the Perception and Manipulation research group of the Institute of Robotics and Industrial Informatics (CSIC-UPC); and the director of the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute and head of the Infectious Disease Service at the Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol.
The Catalan National Research Award recognises a researcher who has contributed significantly and internationally during their career to advance a scientific discipline in any area: human and social sciences, life sciences and health, engineering and technology and experimental sciences. The award is endowed with 40,000 euros.
Carme Torras was given the Catalan National Research Award 2020 for her research on artificial intelligence (IA) and assistive robotics. The jury also highlighted her intense work promoting ethics in the application of robotics and artificial intelligence, contributing notably to the scientific dissemination of these disciplines in schools, among the general public, and in the research and academic environment. Torras, who has a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Barcelona and the University of Massachusetts (USA) and a PhD in Computer Science from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), is currently research professor at the Spanish Scientific Research Council (CSIC) and head of the Perception and Manipulation research group of the Institute of Robotics and Industrial Informatics (CSIC-UPC). Her research has focused on the combination of robotics and artificial intelligence, creating a new style of engineering based on biology and psychology and deepening knowledge of ethical precepts. She has also conceived algorithms for perception, planning and control that open new fields of use and bring robots closer to meeting human needs.
In the case of Bonaventura Clotet, the award was given for his international research of over 40 years in the field of HIV and related diseases. It confirms his place as one of the researchers of the greatest international relevance in the development and application of treatment strategies to eradicate and prevent AIDS. Clotet is a medical doctor who graduated from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Currently, he is director of the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute and head of the Infectious Disease Service at the Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol. His research on HIV, focused on finding a cure for AIDS with a strong commitment to improving patients’ quality of life and fighting against the social stigma associated with the infection, has always been in parallel with the promotion of new research funding strategies, from philanthropic activities to the creation of public and private research consortiums.
The jury of PNR’20 was chaired by Joan Gómez Pallarès, Director-General for Research, by delegation of the former Catalan Minister of Business and Knowledge and former president of the FCRI, Ramon Tremosa. Its members were Francesc Xavier Grau, former Secretary of Universities and Research; Marta Sanz-Solé, researcher in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science of the University of Barcelona (UB); Karina Gibert, researcher of the Intelligent Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Research Center (IDEAI-UPC) and Vice-Dean of the Official Association of Computer Engineering of Catalonia; Josep Tabernero, Director of the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology and Head of the Oncology Service at the Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron (Catalan National Research Award 2019); Mara Dierssen, lead researcher of the Cellular and Systems Neurobiology Group of the Systems Biology Programme of the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG); Jordi Galí, researcher and Director of the Centre for Research in International Economics (Catalan National Research Award 2012); Rosemarie C. Nagel, ICREA research professor at Pompeu Fabra University and research professor of Barcelona GSE; Begoña Perdiguero, Head of Start-Up Catalonia of ACCIÓ; and Pere-Joan Cardona, lead researcher of the Experimental Tuberculosis Unit of the Institute for Health Science Research Germans Trias i Pujol (IGTP). Jordi Portabella, Director-General for the FCRI, acted as secretary.
Call for the 32nd edition open
The Catalan government and the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation (FCRI) have opened the call for the 32nd edition of the Catalan National Research Awards (PNR 2021). According to the rules, universities, research centres, university research institutes, academies, companies and foundations and, in general, all agents of the Catalan research and innovation system can enter the award categories. Entries must be submitted for the PNR 2021 before 28 September through the website premisnacionalsrecerca.fundaciorecerca.cat, which contains all the required information and the rules for submitting entries in any of six categories of the Catalan National Research Awards.