Isabel Mínguez-Tudela (08/05/1956 - 16/04/2011)
On April 16th our dear friend Isabel passed away in the Bordet Institute of Brussels after a long struggle against cancer. Isabel died as she lived, working and fighting until the last moment for European research in animal health.
Isabel was a remarkable person of immense generosity, extraordinary manners and great passion. With her death, we lose a strong advocate for European research. For over 15 years, she acted as a major bridge within the scientific community linking different European research teams and establishing connections with scientists from America, Asia and Africa. She helped to improve the level of European veterinary science by creating a strong European network of veterinary scientists in a very competitive environment. She was an enthusiastic supporter of the “One Health” vision and of the role of the veterinary profession in fighting neglected diseases and poverty.
All who had the fortune to meet and work with her are deeply saddened by her passing .We have lost an excellent professional and a great friend of animal health research. Isabel has been a tremendous example to veterinary scientists worldwide and a precious acquaintance for all who have been fortunate to work with her.
We have received numerous expressions of condolences from many countries around the world. All praise Isabel's excellent work to improve animal health research in Europe; her broad vision for the future to advance science; her ability to support the resolution of major health problems; her unconditional support of young researchers; her ability to build bridges of communication and cooperation with other research groups within and outside the European Union. Isabel was always ready to offer advice and help selflessly and generously to all who asked. We all agree that Isabel was, above all, a warm hearted and caring person who always demonstrated outstanding professionalism and dedication to her work.
Isabel was born in 1956 in Pontevedra, Spain, and she moved with her family to Madrid when she was three years old. There she studied high school at the French Liceo and completed her degree in veterinary medicine at Complutense University of Madrid. She earned her Ph.D at the same university in 1987, with a thesis that was very innovative and that had enormous impact. To identify cells in tissue infected with African swine fever virus (ASFv), Isabel used a double immunohistological labeling technique on sections of ASF-infected spleen and lymph nodes. Cells were identified by an indirect immunoalkaline phosphatase technique using monoclonal antibodies reactive against different subsets of leukocytes and a direct immunoperoxidase method using swine immunoglobulin G anti-ASF virus antigens. The results showed that ASFv was not present in B cells, helper T cells, or cytotoxic/suppressor T lymphocytes, whereas it was detected in tissue macrophages.
Isabel started her professional activities as inspector of the “Servicio Oficial de Inspección, Vigilancia y Regulación del Comercio Exterior” of Spain (SOIVRE) (1980-1990). In the ensuing years (1990-1992), she moved to Brussels working as a national expert in the DG Fisheries of the European Commission. She stayed on in Brussels from 1992 to 1996 to act as a counselor at the Permanent Representation of Spain to the European Union (REPER) and finally as senior scientific officer in DG Research and Innovation of the European Commission, where she worked indefatigably to manage a great number of EU research projects on animal health from 1996 until her death on April 16, at the age of only 54 years.
Those of us who had the great fortune to interact with her closely and share with her many good times will remember her lovely personality, her approachability, her good judgment--coupled with a willingness to listen to the views of others--and her constant, passionate struggle against injustice. Isabel was a very special friend. She was always available to give us guidance and advice, listen to our frustrations and smile at the challenges of life.
Isabel was a person dedicated to work who always knew how to reconcile it with her other passion--her family. They were always fortunate to receive a great deal of commitment and dedication from her. Both worlds gave her great satisfaction and happiness. In the words of her husband, Ignacio, spoken at the ceremony held on Thursday, April 21 in Brussels, the day of her cremation: "To define the qualities and characteristics of Isabel I would highlight her devastating sweetness in dealing with people, her brilliant mind fed daily with exciting new knowledge and, above all, her exemplary simplicity and her taste for people with an honest look, people addicted to the truth and people who battle non-stop against injustice and villainy. In her beautiful humanity she never had room for despair. And she was humble, above all. She always assumed the problems of others as her own, she carried them on her back and did not stop until she had solved them with a determination that was admirable and often heroic, always with a smile--an essential characteristic of her unforgettable personality".
Unfortunately Isabel has left us forever, but she leaves us with the lasting memory of her dedication, generosity, love for her profession, passion for animal health and science in general, great inner strength and, especially, her smile.
At this sad time we send all our love to her husband Ignacio, their daughters Ines and Constanza, and her mother and sisters.
Rest in Peace, dear friend.