María Blasco Marhuenda

María Antonia Blasco Marhuenda (born 1965), known as María Blasco, is a Spanish molecular biologist. She is the current director of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas, CNIO).

María Blasco
María Antonia Blasco Marhuenda recibiendo los Premios a la Investigación 2014-2015 de la Comunidad de Madrid (cropped).jpg
María Antonia Blasco Marhuenda

1965 (age 55–56)
Alma materUniversidad de Valencia, BSc Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, PhD
AwardsEMBO Gold Medal (2004)
Scientific career
FieldsMolecular biology
InstitutionsSpanish National Cancer Research Centre


Blasco was born in 1965. She obtained her PhD in 1993 for her research at the Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (UAM-CSIC), under the supervision of Margarita Salas. That same year, Blasco joined the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York (USA) as a Postdoctoral Fellow under the leadership of Carol W. Greider (who was to win a Nobel Prize in 2009). In 1997 she returned to Spain to start her own research at the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología in Madrid. She joined the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO) in 2003 as Director of the Molecular Oncology Programme and Leader of the Telomeres and Telomerase Group. In 2005 she was also assigned as Vice-Director of Basic Research and in 2011 she was appointed as CNIO Director.[1][2]


  • Isolation of the core components of mouse telomerase and generation of the first knockout mouse for telomerase;[3]
  • Generation of the first mouse with increased telomerase expression in adult tissues;[4]
  • The finding that mammalian telomeres and subtelomeres have epigenetic marks characteristic of constitutive heterochromatin;[5]
  • Discovery of telomeric RNAs, which are potent telomerase-inhibitors whose expression is altered in cancer;[6]
  • Demonstration that telomerase activity and telomere length determine the regenerative capacity of adult stem cells;[7]
  • Identification of the longest telomeres as a universal feature of adult stem cell niches;[8]
  • The finding that telomerase overexpression in the context of cancer resistant-mice improves organismal fitness, produces a systemic delay in ageing and an extension in median life-span;[9]
  • Discovery that telomeres rejuvenate after nuclear reprogramming;
  • Identification of the molecular mechanisms by which short telomeres/DNA damage limit nuclear reprogramming of defective cells;[10]
  • Discovery that telomeric protein TRF1 can act as both a tumour suppressor and as a factor in ageing prevention.[11]

Professional experienceEdit

  • 2011- Director Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas, CNIO)
  • 2005-2011 Vice-Director of Basic Research (CNIO)
  • 2003-2011 Director, Molecular Oncology Program (CNIO)
  • 2003–present Head, Telomeres and Telomerase Group (CNIO)
  • 1997-2003 Staff Investigator, National Center of Biotechnology, Madrid, Spain
  • 1993-1996 Postdoctoral Fellow, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, USA. supervisor Dr. Carol. W. Greider
  • 1992-1993 Postoctoral Fellow, Center of Molecular Biology, Madrid, Spain. supervisor Dr. Margarita Salas
  • 1989-1992 Graduate Fellow, Center of Molecular Biology, Madrid, Spain supervisor Dr. Margarita Salas

Honours and awardsEdit

  • 2013 - Fellow of the Royal Academy of Pharmacy of Spain
  • 2012 - Member of the Scientific Board of the AXA Research Fund
  • 2012 - Member of the Scientific Board of the Vall d’Hebron Institut de Recerca (VHIR)
  • 2012 - Member of the Board of Trustees and President of the External Advisory Board of the Spanish National Centre for Research on Ageing (CNIE)
  • 2012 - Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research Selection Committee
  • 2012 - Official Nominator for the "2014 Japan Prize" awarded by The Japan Prize Foundation, Japan
  • 2012 - Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation "Embajadora Honoraria de la Marca España-2013"
  • 2012 - Santiago Grisolía Chair 2012 in Biomedicine and Neurosciences, Spain
  • 2011 - 2011 Award in Innovation and Social Transformation, Fundación IDEAS, España.
  • 2011 - Fundación Pilates VIIth Edition "Health & Wellbeing" Award, Spain
  • 2011 - Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Alumni Association Award, Spain
  • 2011 - VIth Yo Donna International Award in Professional Achievements
  • 2010 - National Research Award Santiago Ramón y Cajal.
  • 2010 - Lilly Foundation Preclinical Research Award
  • 2009 - Prize "Alberto Sols" for Excellence in Research
  • 2008 - Körber European Science Award
  • 2007 - Rey Jaime I Prize for Basic Research
  • 2005 - Carmen and Severo Ochoa Award in Molecular Biology
  • 2004 - EMBO Gold Medal Heidelberg.[12]
  • 2004 - The Carcinogenesis Young Investigator Award
  • 2003 - Josef Steiner Cancer Research Award 2003.
  • 2003 - "Universalia" Research Award 2003
  • 2002 - "EMBO Lecture" Award at ELSO Meeting 2002
  • 2002 - Early Career Award 2002. European Life Sciences Organization (ELSO).
  • 2002 - "Young Cancer Researcher Award" European Association for Cancer Research (EACR).
  • 2001 - SEBBM Beckman/Coulter Award 2001
  • 2001 - Award of the Spanish Health Science Foundation for excellence in Biomedical Research
  • 2000 - Swiss Bridge Award 2000 for Research in Cancer
  • 2000 - FEBS Anniversary Prize
  • 1999 - II Spanish National Oncology Award (Echevarne)


More than 200 articles, see MA Blasco at Google Scholar


  1. ^ "Biosketch: María A. Blasco at CNIO". CNIO.
  2. ^ La investigadora María Blasco sustituye a Barbacid al frente del CNIO, 22/6/2011 - El País
  3. ^ Blasco, MA; Funk W; Villaponteau B; Greider CW (1995). "Functional characterization and developmental regulation of mouse telomerase RNA component". Science. 269 (5228): 1267–1270. doi:10.1126/science.7544492. PMID 7544492.
  4. ^ Blasco, MA; Lee H-W; Hande P; Samper E; Lansdorp P; DePinho R; Greider CW (1997). "Telomere shortening and tumor formation by mouse cells lacking telomerase RNA". Cell. 91 (1): 25–34. doi:10.1016/s0092-8674(01)80006-4. PMID 9335332.
  5. ^ Blasco, MA; Garcia-Cao, M.; O'Sullivan, R.; Peters, A.H.; Jenuwein, T. (2004). "Epigenetic regulation of telomere length in mammalian cells by the Suv39h1 and Suv39h2 histone methyltransferases". Nature Genetics. 36 (1): 94–99. doi:10.1038/ng1278.
  6. ^ Schoeftner, S.; Blasco, MA (2008). "Developmentally regulated transcription of mammalian telomeres by DNA dependent RNA polymerase II". Nature Cell Biology. 10 (2): 228–236. doi:10.1038/ncb1685. PMID 18157120.
  7. ^ Benetti, R.; García-Cao, M.; Blasco, MA (2007). "Telomere length regulates the epigenetic status of mammalian telomeres and subtelomeres". Nature Genetics. 39 (2): 243–250. doi:10.1038/ng1952. PMID 17237781.
  8. ^ Flores, I.; Canela, A.; Vera, E.; Tejera, A.; Cotsarelis, G.; Blasco, MA (2008). "The longest telomeres: a general signature of adult stem cell compartments". Genes & Development. 22 (5): 654–667. doi:10.1101/gad.451008. PMC 2259034. PMID 18283121.
  9. ^ Tomas, A.; Flores, I.; Fernandez-Marcos, P.; Cayuela, M.L; Maraver, A.; Tejera, A.; Borras, C.; Matheu, A.; Klatt, P.; Flores, J.M.; Viña, J.; Serrano, M.; Blasco, MA (November 2008). "Telomerase reverse transcriptase delays aging in cancer resistant mice". Cell. 135 (4): 609–622. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2008.09.034. PMID 19013273.
  10. ^ arion, R.M.; Strati, K.; Li, H.; Murga, M.; Blanco, R.; Ortega, S.; Fernandez-Capetillo, O.; Serrano, M.; Blasco, MA (August 2009). "A p53-mediated DNA damage response limits reprogramming to ensure iPS cell genomic integrity". Nature. 460 (7259): 1149–1153. doi:10.1038/nature08287. PMC 3624089. PMID 19668189.
  11. ^ Martinez, P.; Thanasoula, M.; Muñoz, P.; Liao, C.; Tejera, A.; McNees, C.; Flores, J.M.; Fernández-Capetillo, O.; Tarsounas, M.; Blasco, MA (2009). "Increased telomere fragility and fusions resulting from TRF1 deficiency lead to degenerative pathologies and increased cancer in mice". Genes Dev. 23 (17): 2060–2075. doi:10.1101/gad.543509. PMC 2751970. PMID 19679647.
  12. ^ Blasco, M. A. A. (2005). "Mice with bad ends: Mouse models for the study of telomeres and telomerase in cancer and aging". The EMBO Journal. 24 (6): 1095–1103. doi:10.1038/sj.emboj.7600598. PMC 556402. PMID 15775986.

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