Through the Cellex Foundation, Pere Mir directly contributed to research in P. vivax malaria
Chemist and entrepreneur Pere Mir, who helped position Catalan science among the European elite, died on Friday, March 10, at the age of 97. In ISGlobal, we mourn the loss of a key player in our country’s research landscape, and who has directly contributed to investigating one of the most neglected malaria parasites.
Through the Cellex Foundation, created in 2003, Pere Mir made important donations that helped develop top-level research, particularly in the biomedical field. Since its creation, Cellex has invested more than 120 million euros in medical and scientific institutions in our country. It also encouraged the training of young scientists and technologists through science and mathematics grants for high school students.
In the malaria field, Mir contributed to launch research in an up-to-then neglected parasite, Plasmodium vivax, widely distributed in America and Asia. Thanks to his contribution, the Barcelona Centre for International Health (which afterwards became ISGlobal), was able to hire two expert scientists in P. vivax -Hernando del Portillo and Mª Carmen Fernández Becerra-, thereby launching the first programme of vivax malaria in the country that covered from basic science to translational research.
“Pere Mir understood that without research in Plasmodium vivax, malaria elimination would not be possible” says Hernando del Portillo, ICREA professor at ISGlobal and IGTP. “But his vision went beyond that. He not only supported a programme at the national level, but also a multicentre effort that included research centres from Brazil, Colombia, India and Papua New Guinea. We owe him so much.”
Despite his wish to remain behind the scene, Pere Mir received important recognitions throughout his life. In 1993, he received the Sant Jordi’s Cross; in 2011 he was awarded the National Research Prize, in the scientific sponsorship category; and in 2013 he was awarded the Barcelona’s City Council gold medal for his patronage of physics, chemistry and biomedical research.