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Sílvia Osuna, who has an undergraduate degree and PhD in Chemistry from the University of Girona, has won the 2016 Princess of Girona Foundation Scientific Research Award from the Princess of Girona Foundation (FPdGI) for her project MetMoDEzyme to develop a computer protocol for designing enzymes to make it cheaper to synthesize and produce drugs.

The jury recognized the potential Osuna’s research has for lowering costs with a new “a la carte” way of developing enzymes, which are the chemical catalysts of life. President of the FPdGI Francisco Belil highlighted “her scientific excellence, bold approach to research and innovative capacity in the development of a new technology.”

Sílvia Osuna, who has done research stays at the University of California Los Angeles and the Université Libre de Bruxelles, described this as a great recognition and believes that with computational chemistrywe can modify these enzymes naturally and, therefore, provoke reactions in the body that we want, because the enzymes behave how we want them to.” Osuna says her research will allow for “purer, cleaner and faster reactions which, when developing drugs, allow us to reduce production costs and, therefore, be much more sustainable in the process.”

Sílvia Osuna was chosen from 209 candidates nominated, 74 in the Scientific Research category, and won an award valued at €10,000 and a reproduction of a sculpture by artist Juan Muñoz. The official awards ceremony will be held on 1 July in Girona. This isn't the first time the researcher has been recognized for her work, as a previous project had garnered her a €1.4-millions Starting Grant from the European Research Council.

The jury, which announced their verdict in an event at the headquarters of the Valencia Council of Culture on 19 April, included María Blasco, director of the CNIO; Emilio Lamo, Sociology chair at the Complutense University of Madrid; Avelino Corma, chemist, founder and former director of the Chemical Technology Institute; Oriol Mitjà, 2013 FPdGI Scientific Research award winner; and Jorge Wagensberg, editor, writer and professor of Physics at the University of Barcelona.

The Princess of Girona Foundation Awards are granted to young people between 16 and 35 years old who have done exemplary innovative work. The Scientific Research category recognizes young scientists, including those in the social sciences and humanities. The FPdGi Awards are also granted in the Arts and Literature, Business, Social, and Organization categories (the last one recognizing the outstanding work of an institution that supports young people).

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