San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

National arts and science awards honor national achievements

Microbiologist Carlos Santamaría and biochemist Pablo Sobrado on Monday night were awarded the Clodomiro Picado Twight National Science and Technology Awards for 2011.

Santamaría, 34, studies the genetics of different types of leukemia (blood cancer) and was previously acknowledged in Spain for a doctoral thesis, in which he discovered which genes were most aggressive in acute myeloid leukemia, the most common type of blood cancer in adults and the second-most common in children.

Santamaría is head of the Molecular Biology Laboratory at the National Children’s Hospital in San José. He received a National Science Award for developing the best types of individual treatments for patients.

Pablo Sobrado, 37, a biochemist and biologist, received the National Technology Award for his work on finding drug cures for tropical diseases such as tuberculosis, leishmaniasis, chagas’ disease and lung infections by a fungus called aspergillus.

Sobrado leads a Lab at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, U.S., where scientists seek cures for tropical diseases that attack up to 20 million people per year around the world.

“Your work claims the best of the national soul. This is a tribute from your motherland to you as creators,” President Laura Chinchilla said at the ceremony, which was held in the National Theater.

The Clodomiro Picado Twight National Science and Technology Awards are awarded annually by the ministries of science and technology, and culture and youth, since the program began in 1976.

At the same ceremony, Culture Ministry officials presented the 2011 National Awards in Literature, Fine Arts and Journalism. The highest culture honor, or Magón Award, for outstanding achievements in art and culture, was awarded to two people simultaneously for the first time.

Dancer and choreographer Rogelio López and scientist Rodrigo Gámez, director of the National Biodiversity Institute, won the award, named as a tribute to Costa Rican writer Manuel González Zeledón, who used that nickname.

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