Spanish voices in the US: past & future of scientific cooperation

  • Science
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Thu, March 03, 2022
  • 6:30 pm
Spanish voices in the US: past & future of scientific cooperation

A screening of the documentary “Friends of Mankind: The Philanthropic Expedition and the Treatise on Vaccine” will be followed by a round table with Spanish scientists involved in the US scientific scene.

In the context of the current global socio-economic challenges, sustainable and innovative solutions require well-organized, transparent, and vibrant scientific efforts from the whole society. COVID-19 has crossed geographical borders reminding us that we all share the same planet and it has highlighted the importance of scientific collaboration in order to protect common goods and advance in further global sustainable development.

Over the last decades, contagious diseases have taken on a special role becoming a threat to the global population, and demanding great scientific efforts to overcome them. From a History of Science perspective, pandemics are intrinsically related to humanity since human beings began to organize themselves in society and creating groups of people, living together in the same space. The great pandemics documented in Human History have been the so-called bubonic plague in 1348; the smallpox pandemic in the eighteenth century; in the nineteenth century successive outbreaks of cholera from 1830s onwards, and then in the twentieth century the epidemic of the mis-named Spanish flu in 1918 and 1919.

The Spanish Royal Philanthropic Vaccine Expedition against the Smallpox was one of the greatest international healthcare expeditions in the history of science that lasted from 1803 to 1806 and was led by Francisco Javier de Balmis. The Smallpox disease devastated the populations of the Americas after having been brought from Europe by the Spanish conquerors in the 1500s. After the English physician Edward Jenner had pioneered the vaccination in 1798, the Spanish expedition supported by the King Charles IV of Spain took the newly invented vaccine to the Spanish Americas and Asia as one of greatest examples of science philanthropy.

This chapter of the history of international scientific cooperation has been displayed in the Spanish documentary Friends of Mankind: The Philanthropic Expedition and the Treatise on Vaccine from the series Treasures and Ghosts of Spanish science by Juan Pimentel and Paco Pimentel. The Spanish series bring together science and art through a reflective narrative and leisurely aesthetic similar to the values of science and knowledge, being its main goal to highlight the role of science within the Spanish cultural heritage, thereby seeking to claim a greater visibility of science in society.


  • 6:30 pm–6:45 pm: Opening and brief presentation by Miguel Albero, Spanish Cultural Counselor.
  • 6:45 pm–7:15 pm: Screening of Friends of Mankind: The Philanthropic Expedition and the Treatise on Vaccine episode from Treasures and Ghosts of Spanish Science. Envisioned by Juan Pimentel y Paco Pimentel, Spain, 2021.
  • 7:15 pm–8:15 pm: Scientific Conversations: The role of Spanish science in the United States and the future of the international scientific cooperation.

Moderated by María Leavitt, Ph.D. Primary Patent Examiner in Biotechnology at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Scientific panel

Iker Liceaga Indart, MS.

Mechanical Engineer at NASA, Iker Liceaga Indart studied at the University of Navarra in San Sebastian (Spain), where he earned a B.S. degree in Industrial Technologies Engineering (2015) and a M.S. degree in Industrial Engineering (2017). Between September 2016 and June 2017, he worked on his Master’s Thesis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he conceptualized and developed an interactive robotic environment for the Changing Places Research Group. He joined NASA in October 2017 as a member of the GSFC Heliospheric Physics Lab.

Sara Ferrando Martínez, Ph.D.

Lead Scientist in the Translational Research Division at NeolmmuneTech, Ferrando Martínez has a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Valencia and a PhD in Cellular Immunology from the University of Seville. During the course of her graduate training, she held two visiting researcher positions in the United States, at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, NY and the NIH’s Vaccine Research Center in Bethesda, MD. After graduate school held a postdoctoral research position at the Institute of Biomedicine of Seville with another short stay at the Vaccine Research Center, which was later extended into a second postdoctoral period. Her broad training in immunology and chronic viral infections led her to a scientist position in the Research and Development Department at MedImmune (AstraZeneca), where she worked on immunotherapy for both infectious diseases and cancer. Currently, she is the Lead Scientist in the Translational Research Division at NeoImmuneTech in Rockville, MD.

Juan Enriquez Traba, Ph.D

Candidate at Instituto Cajal de Madrid and National Institutes of Health (NIH), Enriquez Traba graduated in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Autonomous University of Madrid in 2017, where he works investigating the cellular origins of Parkinson’s disease and possible therapies. After completing his undergraduate stage, he obtained a Masters in Biotechnology from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where he trained in computational neuroscience. For his project, Enriquez Traba developed a computational model to simulate the neurobiological processes of learning. The object of the research is to elucidate the role of dopamine receptors in the regulation of motivation. Eventually his work could help understand the underlying causes of neuropsychiatric disorders, the most common cause of disability in the U.S. population.


Venue map

Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain, 2801 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20009



Presented by the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C., and ECUSA (Spanish Scientists in the USA.) Still from the Episode 5 of Friends of Mankind: The Philanthropic Expedition and The Treatise on Vaccine of the series Treasures and Ghosts of Spanish science by Juan Pimentel and Paco Pimentel.



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