12 May 2019 marked the 655th anniversary of the Jagiellionian University’s foundation by king Casimir the Great. The main celebrations were held on Friday, May 10, and included the presentation of Merentibus Medal to Professor Mario Suwalsky – a distinguished researcher from the University of Concepción, Chile and a former Polish Honorary Consul to Concepción.
The medal was presented during the special session of the Jagiellonian University Senate, celebrating the Jagiellonian University Day. The Merentibus medal is awarded by the JU Senate for great services rendered to the Jagiellonian University. It can be given either to a person, or to an institution, from both Poland and abroad. It was first presented in 2001 to Professors Jean Castel and Stanisław Waltoś. In the following years, the medal recipients included Prof. Alfred Schauer, Prof. Franciszek Ziejka, the City of Kraków, as well as Universities of Heidelberg, Vienna and Orleans. Prof. Suwalsky was recognised in particular for his studies into natural and model membranes, his role in the development of intense and fruitful research collaboration between the Jagiellonian University and the University of Concepción, as well as effective promotion of Polish science and culture in Latin America.
Prof. Mario Suwalsky is of Polish origin. His parents emigrated to South America in the 1930s. As a chemist, he obtained a PhD degree from the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) and then completed a number of postdoctoral internships at US, Spanish, and German universities. Prof. Suwalsky’s research is especially focused on X-ray crystallography of membranes. He has conducted very important studies into the impact of therapeutics and other physiologically active molecules on different types of model and natural membranes, which play a vital role in the understanding of molecular mechanisms governing the activity of medications and other biologically active compounds. For over 20 years he has been cooperating with scientists from the Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, and, more recently, from the Małopolska Centre of Biotechnology.
Prof. Suwalsky served as the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland in Concepción for 15 years. In 2015 he was decorated with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta by President Bronisław Komorowski.