The assembly hall of the historical building of La Nau has hosted the appointment ceremony of the Swedish biochemist Nils Gunnar von Heijne as a honorary doctorate. This title has been granted because of his research on the structure and proteins' biogenesis of biological membranes.
The appointment ceremony has been presided over by the Principal of the Universitat de València, Mª Vicenta Mestre. The laudation has been carried out by Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Faculty of Biological Sciences, Ismael Mingarro. A big part of the Board of Directors of the Universitat, several deans, the former Principal of the Universitat Francisco Tomás and many other members of the university attended the inauguration of the honorary doctorate.
Last 2nd of October, the Governing Council of the Universitat aproved the appointment of Nils Gunnar Hansson von Heijne as honorary doctorate. The proposal was presented by the Doctoral School thanks to the initiative of the Interdisciplinary Research Structure for Biotechnology and Biomedicine and the support of the Biomedicine Institutes and the I2SysBio, as well as the Faculty of Biological Sciences and the School of Engineering.
During his acceptance speech, Nils Gunnar Hansson von Heijne has pointed out that the history of biochemistry ‘is a beautiful illustration of how progress made by one or several researchers encourages the whole scientific community and leads to a better understanding of the hidden ways of nature’.
‘The growing pressure for winning the race and being able to publish in the best journals, the competition for academic positions and grants, attention to excellence with bigger and better groups who take the majority of resources’. All these issues come from the fact that science is global now and nations see it as a way to compete for economic and political influence’ claimed the new honorary doctorate.
The principal Mª Vicenta Mestre has remarked the importance of the university collaboration for the research works as seen in the last three decades of joint work between the Universitat and von Heijne team. Mestre has also highlighted the fact that the ‘honoris causa’ proposal was done by other four centres, which shows that ‘the different knowledge that the Universitat cultivates are a basis for the multidisciplinarity that nowadays we turn into reality by means of degree’s titles, master’s degree titles, PhD programmes and, of course, in our research activity.
To check the principal Mª Vicenta Mestre click here.
In his ‘laudatio’, Professor Ismael Mingarro wanted to reaffirm the impact of all the discoveries and studies that von Heijne has made, highlighting his multiple published works which are close to reach 100.000 quotations. Furthermore, Mingarro enhanced the new ‘honoris causa’ great will of collaboration, recalling one of his sentences ‘to collaborate is funnier than to compete’ asserting that in the actual and confronted scientific world ‘I never heard someone complaining about professor von Heijne and that is not easy at the present time.’
To read the whole ‘laudatio’ click here.
Nils Gunnar Hansson von Heijne
Nils Gunnar Hansson von Heijne (Gothenburg, Sweden, 1951) is the director of the National Laboratory of Science of Life Cryo-EM Facility of Stockholm and a visiting professor of the Rockefeller University of New York. He has been educated in the KTH Royal Institute of Technology of Stockholm, where he obtained his master’s degree in Chemistry and his PhD in Physics, Dr. Von Heijne did a research internship in the University of Michigan and was a visiting professor in the Molecular Biology Institute of the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) and in the Protein Engineering Research Institute of Japan.
He was a professor in the KTH Royal Institute of Technology of Sweden, in the Stockholm University and also the group leader of the Karolinska Institute Center for Structural Biochemistry (NOVUM). He has also been director in the Stockholm Bioinformatics Center and in the Center for Biomembrane Research.
His research has been focused in the classification of proteins and biogenesis and in the structure of the membrane proteins His most important scientific accomplishments are the discovery and experimental validation of the named ‘(-1, -3) –rule’, which describes the places of division of the peptides and the named rule of ‘inner positive’.
He has been a member of different scientific and editorial committees, and also the consultant of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry and for Psychology or Medicine. He is the author of more than 360 scientific publications with a high influence.
Von Heijne is also a member of the European Academy, of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Doctor ‘honoris causa’ by the Abo Akademi, and has received several recognitions and prizes, among which we can find the Arrhenius Medal of the Swedish Society of Chemistry.