Mr. Enrique Cerdá Olmedo

Medalla nº XLII

Spanish geneticist (Guadix, 1942), Emeritus Professor at the Universidad de Sevilla (from 2012.10), founder of its Genetics Department (1969) and its first Catedrático (full Professor, 1972-2012).  


He holds three Spanish University degrees (Ingeniero Agrónomo and Doctor Ingeniero Agrónomo from the present Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Licenciado en Ciencias Biológicas from Universidad Complutense) and a Ph. D. in Biology from Stanford University.  His main teachers were Prof. Enrique Sánchez-Monge, the plant breeder; Philip C. Hanawalt, codiscoverer of DNA repair; and Max Delbrück, Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology.  Postdoctoral fellow (1967-1969) and Fairchild Distinguished Scholar (1974-1975) at the California Institute of Technology (1974-1975), Humboldt fellow at Universität Göttingen (1982-1983), Scienziato Visitante della Fondazione Cenci-Bolognetti in Rome (2005-2006), etc.  Twelve additional visits of at least one month to eight institutions in five countries and numerous shorter ones.  Course director at Cold Spring Harbor and other institutions of five countries.  Conferences and seminars in 5 languages in 18 countries. 


His main research subjects have been the biology of bacteria (Escherichia and Salmonella) and fungi (Phycomyces, Blakeslea, Fusarium, Saccharomyces) and its application, with special attention to mutation and mutagenesis, asexual and sexual genetic mechanisms, responses to external stimuli, particulary light, and secondary metabolism, particularly carotene production. 


Together with his coworkers, he contributed pioneering results on the relationships of mutation, repair, and replication (1968), innovated in sensory physiology with the first signal pathway, an ordered scheme of the gene products that mediate between receptors and effectors (1973) and in toxicogenetics (1970, 1978). Defined genetic mechanisms in the Phycomyces asexual (1968) and sexual life cycles (1975, 2001) and designed methods commonly used in mutagenesis and in fungal genetics (1985, 2012). He discovered a carotene–producing enzyme aggregate (1971 and later) and its regulation (1974 and later), the compartmentation of terpenoid biosynthesis (1992, 2006), and the regulation of gibberellin production (correcting the usual definition of secondary metabolism, 1992); documented in detail the effects of light on development and metabolism and established their genetic foundations (reviews in 2001). He proposed combinations of versatile genes to explain the rapid evolution of secondary metabolism (1994) and behavior (1995). He discovered the early reactions for the synthesis of apocarotenoids (2010, 2012), some of which are the sexual signals of Phycomyces and related molds.  


He has published 94 primary scientific papers, 63 review papers and book chapters and 32 various papers, obtained 10 patents, and supervised 30 doctoral theses.  Editor and main author of "Phycomyces" (Cold Spring Harbor, New York) and three other books; author of "Nuestros genes" (Salvat, Barcelona) and four other books; translator of two books; director of the film "The Life of Yeast" (Institut für den Wissenschaftlichen Film, Germany), with versions spoken in English, Spanish and German.   


Member by competitive election of the European Molecular Biology Organization, the Spanish Real Academia de Ingeniería, and the Real Academia Sevillana de Ciencias.  He received the King Jaime I Prize for scientific research (the largest in Spain), the Medal of Andalusia (awarded by the Andalusian Governmet and Parliament), the National Genetics Prize of the Spanish Genetics Society, the Javier Benjumea and the Manuel Aguilar Research Prizes, the Spanish Universities National Graduation Prize, the Silver Victor (medal from the Spanish Government), and other distinctions.


Personal fellowships from the Spanish Government, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas,the Foundations Alfonso Martín Escudero, Elías Ahuja (Fulbright Committee), Gosney Research Fund, Juan March, Fairchild, Alexander von Humboldt, and Cenci-Bolognetti.  Principal investigator of research projects financed by the the European Union, the Spanish and Andalusian Governments, the USA–Spain Joint Committee, NATO, the US Department of Agriculture, the Juan March and Ramón Areces Foundations and several companies from three countries.