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The 27th Latin American Chemistry Congress is underway in Cuba, running concurrently with the 6th International Congress on Chemistry and Chemical Engineering -- from October 16th through the 20th at the Havana Convention Center. The event has brought together 1,300 delegates from more than 50 countries under the slogan "Chemistry for Life."

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Simon Campbell, president of the United Kingdom's Royal Society of Chemistry, pointed out that chemistry must be used to solve some of the major problems facing humanity in the 21st century, such as the lack of drinking water, climatic change and healthcare. He spoke about Cuba and its role in international healthcare solidarity, noting that "Cuban vaccines have a significant impact on a number of countries around the world."

During the event, the Cuban Society of Chemistry presented National Prizes for excellence for 2006. Among those acknowledged was Dr. María de los Angeles Chávez Planas, a professor at the University of Havana's Faculty of Biology.
Dr. Chávez Planas is one of the pioneers of biochemistry in Cuba and founder of the School of Enzymology, with nearly 40 years of outstanding work and dedication in research and investigation.

Dr. Vicente Verez Bencomo from the University of Havana's Faculty of Chemistry took the award for social impact. Dr. Verez Bencomo, along with a group of scientists from several other institutions, developed the first vaccine in the world against Haemophillus influenzae type 2, a disease that kills almost half-a-million children each year.

The prize for a young researcher went to Dr. Reynaldo Villalonga Santana, a teacher in Biological Sciences at the University of Matanzas.

Dr. Alberto Nuñez Selles, president of the Cuban Society of Chemistry, pointed out the importance of this field in the economic and social development of the country. He noted that more than half of the awards presented by the Cuban Academy of Sciences in the category of natural and exact sciences are related to Chemistry. "Chemistry [...] is intricately woven into most of the advances made by Cuba," said Dr. Nuñez Selles.

Among the participants this year are Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, scientific advisor to the Cuban Council of State; Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry Harry Kroto, a professor at the University of Sussex, England; Dr. Ann Nalley, president of the American Chemical Society; and Dr. Leiv Sydnes, past president for 2006-2007 of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)

Source: Radio Habana Cuba

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