Nature Medicine | Spoonful of Medicine

Q&A: Spain’s new cancer capitán wants to “go back to normality”

By Elie Dolgin

mariablasco.jpgLife hasn’t been easy at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) since the founding director Mariano Barbacid announced his intention to step down in 2009. Two campaigns to find a successor had to be halted—the first for lack of international candidates, and the second because nominees’ names were leaked to the press. The leaks occurred amidst a high-profile dispute over Barbacid’s controversial plan to use private funds to develop cancer drugs—a move that the country’s Ministry of Science and Innovation said contradicted state financing rules for a public foundation.

But things seem to have settled down since CNIO insider María Blasco was unanimously chosen to lead the 13-year-old center. Blasco, best known for her research on the enzymes that maintain telomeres, had directed the center’s molecular oncology program since 2003, and had been vice director for basic research at the center since 2005. She became the CNIO’s new director on 22 June. Elie Dolgin spoke to the new cancer capitán about her plans for the agency.

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Image: Facundo Pechervsky


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