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The Pro Academia Prize 2019
was awarded to
Leonor Beleza
of Lisbon, Portugal,
for her leadership
in science and academic life.

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Pro Academia Prize 2019 • The Recipients

Executive Board of the Pro Academia Prize
has decided to confer the Pro Academia Prize 2019
on Leonor Beleza of Lisbon, Portugal,
as the mainstay of the boards, councils, teams and all collaborators of the
Champalimaud Foundation and the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown in Lisbon.

The Prize will be presented in Lisbon on 24 April 2020.

Excerpts from the Prize Assessment

Leonor Beleza is being awar­d­ed the Prize in re­cog­ni­tion of her efforts in fur­ther­ing inter­dis­ci­pli­nary aca­de­mic ex­change and in bringing together scientists, scholars, researchers and politicians. She is an out­stand­ing and exem­pla­ry central person and linch­pin pro­mot­ing aca­de­mic col­la­bora­tion and “cross-pol­li­na­tion” as well as scientific co­opera­tion and in­te­gra­tion of aca­de­mic research, ex­change, and pre­sen­ta­tion, not only among scien­tists and resear­chers, but also to the public.

Dr. Beleza is a graduate of the University of Lisbon Law School, where she has also worked as Assi­stant Professor. During her pro­fessional career she held a number of high-profile pub­lic of­fi­ces. Among other posi­tions, she was Secretary of State of the Presidency of the Cabinet (1982-83), Secretary of State for Social Security (1983- 85), and Minister of Health (1985- 1990) in the Por­tu­guese Govern­ment.

António de Sommer Champalimaud was a successful industrialist and financier. In his will, he left in­struc­tions on the manage­ment of the Champali­maud Foun­d­ation; among them, he appointed Leonor Beleza as President. She took up office in 2004. Two ma­jor areas emerged where the Foundation's activity could have a huge impact: neuro­science and oncology. A third area became the prevention of blindness.

Research started with the Champalimaud Neuro­science Program (CNP), created in 2007. The team is composed of 15 main research groups and 2 asso­ciat­ed labs study­ing diverse topics in neuro­science using advanced, cutting edge tech­ni­ques. Research groups apply molecular, phy­sio­lo­gi­cal and imaging tools to elucidate the function of neural circuits and systems.

On 5 October 2008, the foundation stone was laid for the construction of the Champali­maud Center – a state-of-the-art center for research and clinical care in Lisbon. In 2010, the Foundation began to equip the premises and a work environment that re­flected its philosophy and ambition.

Two years after construction began, the Champali­maud Center was officially inaugurated. A few months after the inauguration of the Cham­palimaud Center, the Champalimaud Clinical Center received the first patients and started its mission of providing excellent care in the oncology and neuropsychiatry areas, sup­ported by translational research programs.

In 2014, the Champalimaud Foundation established the Cancer Research Program on an organismic approach to investigate the biology of cancer and metastasis.

The Champalimaud Research leadership team has two directors. The team works together to provide the environment and resources that will enable the achievement of CR's vision – to help scien­tists reach their full creative potential and promote collective achievements beyond those reachable by individual scientists or laboratory groups.

The Champalimaud Center is now a landmark, not only in the riverside landscape of Lis­bon, but also in the map of international science. In 2012, the Center was chosen by the US magazine "The Scientist" as the best place outside the US for researchers to develop their postdoctoral work.

Another outstanding aspect of Dr. Beleza and her network is the importance they place in bringing science to the general public, among them the Champimóvel, which was introduced in April 2008. It is a mobile and interactive experience that invites children to take a three-dimensional journey through the human body.