Alumni Relations

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Guillem Casanovas

Guillem Casanovas, former EMBL predoctoral fellow, died on 25 October 2020 at the age of 37.

Martina Muckenthaler, Professor of Molecular Medicine, University of Heidelberg (EMBL Heidelberg Visiting Group Leader, 1994-2003) and Matthias Hentze, EMBL Director

“It was with great sadness that we learned of Guillem’s untimely death. Guillem was a PhD student in the EMBL International PhD Programme (EIPP) who worked with us in the iron homeostasis group of the Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit. Coming from Spain, Guillem joined our team in 2006 and did outstanding work on the molecular pathways involved in the regulation of the iron hormone hepcidin. After four years, Guillem defended his PhD at the University of Heidelberg excellently, and moved to the United States for post-doctoral research in New York City shortly thereafter. Only recently he returned to Frankfurt, Germany. 

“We remember Guillem as an ambitious scientist and a dear colleague with a strong sense of fairness and justice. Even 10 years later, his work dissecting the regulatory elements within the hepcidin promoter region remains highly cited.

“Our thoughts are with Guillem’s family in Spain.”

Bjarki Johannesson, Senior Research Investigator, New York Stem Cell Foundation (EMBL Heidelberg Predoc, 2006-2013)

“I was initially drawn to Guillem because of how clever and funny he was, always making observations about things and concepts that impressed me and made me think about them a little bit differently – and laugh, we always laughed so much. But we stayed fast friends because of his genuine and universal kindness, which he didn’t only reserve for friends and family, but innately and actively extended to people that were in any way disadvantaged, or less fortunate. He never shied away from standing up for people, even when a person or their actions were unpopular. It was as if he was immune to the social pressures that make lesser people go with the flow and passively accept the popular point of view – Guillem never compromised on his moral compass. This always genuinely impressed me.

“Guillem was a fierce friend, and a confidant over the last 15 years and he consistently made me want to improve myself as a human being. I wish I knew how to better handle his absence, right now I can’t really see beyond the grief, but I do know I will keep measuring my thoughts and actions up against the true north of his compass. My deepest condolences go to Guillem’s family and friends, who made and shaped my most impressive friend.”

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