Mariano Barbacid earned his Ph.D. from Madrid’s Universidad Complutense (1974) and trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the US National Cancer Institute (1974-78). In 1978, he started his own research group to study the molecular events responsible for the development of human tumors. His work led in 1982, to the isolation of the first human oncogene and the identification of the first mutation associated with the development of human cancer. These findings have been seminal to establish the molecular bases of human cancer.
He is also credited with the isolation of the TRK oncogene from a colon carcinoma. This work led 30 years later to a new paradigm of tumor-agnostic therapies thanks to the development of selective inhibitors, but also to the identification of the TRK family of tyrosine protein kinase receptors as the functional receptors for the NGF family of neurotrophins.
In 1988, he joined Bristol Myers-Squibb where he became Vice President of Oncology Drug Discovery. In this position, he pioneered the development of what we know now as targeted therapies. In 1998, he returned to Madrid to create and direct the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO) which in less than 10 years became one of the top cancer research centers in the World. In 2011, Barbacid stepped down as CNIO Director to be able to concentrate on his research interests.
In 2012, he was inducted into the US National Academy of Sciences as a foreign member, and in 2014, elected Fellow of the Academy of the American Association for Cancer Research. Dr. Barbacid holds Honorary Degrees from the International University Menendez y Pelayo (1995), University of Cantabria (2011) and University of Barcelona (2014).
Barbacid´s work has been recognized by several domestic and international awards including the Steiner Prize (Bern, 1988), Ipsen Prize (Paris, 1994), Brupbaher Cancer Research Prize (Zurich, 2005), the Medal of Honor of the International Agency for Cancer Research (Lyon, 2007) and the Burkitt Medal (Dublin, 2017) between others. In 2011, he received an Endowed Chair from the AXA Research Fund (Paris) and he is one of the few European scientists to receive two Advanced Grants from the European Research Council (2009 and 2015) since their inception in 2008.
To date, he has authored 311 publications, including 232 original research articles in journals. Currently, Dr. Barbacid's Hirsch "h" factor is 115 (Google Scholar) and 107 (Web of Science).
In November 2020, Dr. Mariano Barbacid has been awarded with the Echegaray Medal, the most important scientific achievement given by the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences.