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Antoni Prevosti, great master in evolutionary genetics in Spain

Antoni Prevosti, the first professor of Genetics in Spain.

Antoni Prevosti, the first professor of Genetics in Spain.

The commemorative ceremony took place on Thursday, April 11.

The commemorative ceremony took place on Thursday, April 11.

Prevosti graduated in Sciences at the University of Barcelona –with an extraordinary award- in 1942.

Prevosti graduated in Sciences at the University of Barcelona –with an extraordinary award- in 1942.

Antoni Prevosti and Professor Santiago Alcobé, who supervised his doctoral thesis.

Antoni Prevosti and Professor Santiago Alcobé, who supervised his doctoral thesis.

Professor Prevosti and his wife Maria Monclús, a noted expert in the systematic of the genus <i>Drosophila</i>.

Professor Prevosti and his wife Maria Monclús, a noted expert in the systematic of the genus Drosophila.

The commemorative plaque of Prof. Prevosti, a distinguished figure for many generations of geneticists in Spain.

The commemorative plaque of Prof. Prevosti, a distinguished figure for many generations of geneticists in Spain.

10/04/2019

Recerca

The Aula Magna of the Faculty of Biology hold on Thursday April 11 at 11 a.m. the commemorative ceremony for the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Antoni Prevosti, the first professor of Genetics in Spain and distinguished figure in the field of teaching and research on evolutionary genetics.

 

The ceremony was presided by the Dean of the Faculty of Biology, Rosina Gironès, and the director of the Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics, Jordi Garcia Fernàndez. Other participants were the lecturers Francesc Mestres, who talked on the biography of Professor Prevosti; Lluís Serra, who talked about the chromosomic investments in the Drosophila subobscura fly, and Cristian Cañestro –also IRBio member-, who read a speech on the genealogic tree of the former Department of Genetics of the UB. 

An evolutionary look at genetics

Antoni Prevosti (Barcelona, 1910-2011), graduated in Sciences at the University of Barcelona –with an extraordinary award- in 1942. He got his doctoral studies in 1948 at the University of Madrid, with a thesis on anthropology about the infant growth in schooling years in Barcelona –under the supervision of Professor Santiago Alcobé- that showed significant differences in the physical conditions of children depending on their social status.

After completing his doctoral studies, he drove his career to research on evolutionary genetics, a field in which he analysed, among other aspects, the chromosomic polymorphism of D. subobscura fly, a model organism in studies on evolutionary genetics. Prevosti carried out several stays in research centers in Italy –with the teams led by the geneticists Corrado Gini and Adriano Buzzati-Traverso- where he learned techniques on manipulation and preparation of polytechnic chromosomes of Drosophila. 

Afterwards, he collaborated with the Institute of Animal Genetics of Edinburgh –led by Conrad H. Waddington- which marked an inflection point in his career as geneticist. In 1955, he was invited to participate in the international symposium of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (New York), which had distinguished figures regarding evolutionary genetics, such as Theodosius Dobzhansky and Sewall Wright. 

The first professor of genetics in Spain

The teaching career of Prevosti at the UB started in 1943, when he was assistant lecturer of General Biology. After different academic positions, he started teaching genetics as a discipline during the academic year 1955/1956 –a teaching innovation in the national university scene- and in 1959 he became the first professor of Genetics in Spain.

During the post-war era, Professor Prevosti promoted Genetics from an evolutionary perspective. With an open approach, he supported the development of innovating research lines in Genetics with several model organisms –Drosophila, planarians, etc.- and created a school of geneticists that has been the core of research groups and departments of genetics in Spain. Since 1942, he had worked as researcher in the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), until he got the position of supernumerary research lecturer in 1968. 

A great scientific legacy for modern genetics

Antoni Prevosti was the president of the Spanish Society of Genetics and member of the Spanish Committee of the UNESCO International Union of Biological Sciences. Also, he was member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona and the Institute for Catalan Studies, among other entities. He also directed the journal Genética Ibérica, a CSIC-sponsored publication and regarded as emblematic within its field in Spain between the fifties and the seventies. His scientific career has been distinguished with awards such as the Narcís Monturiol Medal –given by the Generalitat de Catalunya- to the best scientific and technological merit (1989) and the Gold Medal to scientific merit by the Barcelona City Council (1994).

In the Barcelona Knowledge Campus, the Antoni Prevosti building of the Faculty of Biology -a 20,000 square meter building, built under the direction of the architect Víctor Rahola Aguadé- pays homage to the professor who developed a unique teaching in the field of evolutionary genetics in this country. Also, the Biology CRAI Library is holding the Fondo Antoni Prevosti Pelegrín, a large bibliographic and documentary exhibition on the first professor of Genetics of the UB and in Spain.
 

 

 

 

 

Images: Courtesy of Prof. Francesc Mestres and Lluís Serra / University of Barcelona

 

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