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The Malaspina Award is an honour bestowed by the Spanish Embassy in Canberra and the Association of Spanish Researchers in Australia-Pacific (SRAP) to individuals and organisations who have made a significant contribution to the scientific and/or cultural relationship between Spain and Australia.
From this year, the award will be presented in two categories, an individual category and one for organisations. The name of the award acknowledges the Spanish scientific expedition led by Alejandro Malaspina, which arrived into the area that is today known as Sydney in 1793, this was the first foreign mission to visit the British colony just five years after the arrival of the First Fleet.
The 2023 Malaspina Awards have been conferred to
- Prof Carola Vinuesa (Individual)
- EMPOWER Consortium – University of Canberra (Institution)
Prof Carola Vinuesa is the only Spanish scientist who has been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, one of the highest distinctions for scientists in Australia. Among her long list of achievements, in 2005 Professor Vinuesa discovered a genetic variant in mice that leads to an auto-immune disease; and, in 2022, the genetic cause of lupus.
More importantly, in 2018, Prof Vinuesa discovered a genetic mutation linked to SIDS that provided new scientific evidence to the Kathleen Folbigg case in Australia. Ms Folbigg was pardoned in June 2023 by the New South Wales Attorney General after spending 20 years in prison, having been convicted of murder following the deaths of her four children. Her pardon was based on the “reasonable doubt” raised by Prof Vinuesa’s research into the children’s rare congenital abnormalities. Experts have raised the need for an independent body to investigate other possible miscarriages of justice in Australia and the case has attracted major international attention.
EMPOWER Consortium is a collaboration between Spanish and Australian researchers which has received joint funding by the European Union HORIZON programme and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) within the NHMRC-European Union program. This collaboration has facilitated a continuous exchange of researchers between Australia and Spain since 2013, including joint positions, scientific publications, and joint research projects. The EMPOWER (European Platform to Promote Wellbeing and Health in the Workplace) project is a prime example of the role of the EU Horizon programme as a key enabler of international collaboration. The project is led by Dr Beatriz Olaya (St John of God Foundation, Sant Boi, Barcelona – Spain) in Europe, and by Prof Luis Salvador-Carulla (MHPU, Health Research Institute, University of Canberra) in Australia, and has partners form 9 countries (Australia, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and UK). The early engagement between the two has developed into a long-standing research collaboration with a significant number of Universities and Research Centres in Spain (e.g., Fundació Sant Joan de Deu, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Universidad Loyola Andalucía, Universidad Pública de Navarra, Asociación Científica PSICOST).
The 6th Malaspina Awards has been sponsored by Navantia Australia. The award is embodied by the statuette “Heart” designed by the internationally renowned Spanish artist Óscar Martín de Burgos.
The Malaspina Award Ceremony will take place at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra on Friday 17th November 2023 at 6pm. The event will count with the participation of Ms Anna-Maria Arabia (Chief Executive of the Australian Academy of Science), HE Ms Alicia Moral Revilla (Ambassador of Spain), H.E. Mr Gabrielle Visentin (EU Ambassador to Australia), Dr Ángel R. López Sánchez (SRAP President – Macquarie University), Mr Israel Lozano Barragán (Managing Director of Navantia Australia), and Assoc. Prof Sergio León-Saval (SRAP Honorary President – University of Sydney and Master of Ceremony), among others.
The Malaspina Award Ceremony is an invitation-only event. If you wish to attend, please contact us before COB Wed 15th November.