Spain’s Top Cancer Researcher Has A Simple Wish For The Next Decade

Oscar Fernandez-Capetillo is a different kind of researcher. He doesn’t care about publishing; he cares about discovering. He’s not afraid of failing, he says, because he knows that without failure there can be no success. Last year, Óscar Férnandez-Capetillo was the only Spaniard listed in Cell magazine’s “40 Under 40″ list, which includes the top 40 researchers in the world who are younger than 40.

Férnandez-Capetillo earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of the Basque Country and worked in the United States for the National Cancer Institute for several years. A decade ago, he returned to Madrid in order to lead the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO)’s genomic instability group. Since then, he has won the Eppendorf award, the EMBO Young Investigator award and the ERC Starting Grant, among other honors. Today, he is Spain’s star researcher, a man who has been called to answer some of the key questions concerning cancer in the next decade. As head of CNIO’s Genomic Instability Group, Férnandez-Capetillo researches the role of DNA damage in the development of cancer.

In his work at CNIO, Férnandez-Capetillo says he does not look for projects that might afford him short-term success. He prefers to forget his ego. That way, he can jump into the unknown and search for more thorough explanations that encompass a larger perspective. He is happy when he can research freely while watching his four children grow up, he notes.

Capetillo received a 2 million euro ($2.2 million) grant from the European Union to continue his research, which ties him to CNIO for now and allows him to reject some otherwise tempting offers. After the grant, however, he will open to all options.

HuffPost Spain sat down with Férnandez-Capetillo to discuss his research, his life, and his thoughts —> Read More