On June 29, a conference in honour of the life and legacy of the late José Mariano Gago (1948-2015) took place in the European Parliament in Brussels. The event was organised by Ciência Viva (http://www.cienciaviva.pt/). At this occasion government leaders, policy makers, international experts and friends came together to highlight José Mariano’s achievements and their impact on shaping science policy and moving Europe towards a knowledge-based society. JM Gago was a remarkable experimental high-energy physicist, science educator, and one of the most influential European science policy makers in the last couple of decades. Professor of Physics at the Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, he acted for many years as Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal. JM Gago was also a fervent supporter of the European Physical Society (EPS). He involved Martin CE Huber, the then President of the EPS in the high level working group that looked at the human resource aspects of the European Research Area in 2004. As first President of the Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE), he invited the EPS to become a founding member. Together, with the other members of ISE, the EPS provided valuable input into the shaping of the European Research Council (ERC). JM Gago was a prominent figure in European Science Policy, supporting the outreach activities of the EPS, notably the IYP2005 in Portugal, and was a guest speaker at the 40th anniversary celebration of the EPS in Mulhouse.
At the opening session of the conference, addresses were given by Carlos Zorrinho, Member of the European Parliament, Former State Secretary for Energy and Innovation, Portugal, by Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation and by Manuel Heitor, Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, MCTES, Portugal.
Two sessions were organised with several invited speakers all of whom were close collaborators, colleagues and friends of JM Gago. The first session was titled: ‘Towards a Common Policy for Science in Europe’. It was moderated by Julio E. Celis, Associated Scientific Director, Danish Cancer Society Research Centre; former Secretary General of the Federation of the Societies of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (FEBS). The second session focused on ’Moving Europe Towards a Knowledge-based Society’ and was moderated by Teresa Riera Madurell, Professor of the University of Balearic Islands. Former member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur of H2020.
All the speakers acknowledged the great impact of JM Gago at the European level as seen from their own perspectives and shared their personal memories with the large audience. The presence of Jose Mariano’s mother, wife and daughter gave to this event a very emotional note. It was a great honor to represent EPS at this memorial ceremony.
The list of speakers can be found under http://www.cienciaviva.pt/marianogagoconference/ and a website has been created from a spontaneous movement of the scientific community in Portugal to collect documents by JM Gago’s friends and colleagues under http://www.marianogago.org/.