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José Mariano Gago (1948 - 2015)

FCT notes with deep regret the death of José Mariano Gago. Scientist, president of JNICT and minister, major figure of Science in Portugal, Mariano Gago became a reference for an entire generation of scientists, who enjoyed his invaluable legacy for science, technology and scientific culture in Portugal. 

FCT joins the initiative of the scientific community to pay a heartfelt and deserved tribute to José Mariano Gago, next Monday, April 20th. At noon, researchers and other employees of research centers and faculties are asked to gather in front of the main doors of their respective institutions for 5 minutes.

As the Minister responsible for Science, José Mariano Gago put the scientific and technological development of the country on the political agenda. He implemented or paved the way for fundamental changes in the traditional national scientific research system, promoting its modernization and internationalization.

It has promoted a generational break with the scientific research system of the past, making room for new researchers and new research institutes, based on international peer review and high standards. It invested in the internationalization of science, through, for example, Portugal's membership in major international scientific organizations (CERN, ESA, ESO, ESRF) and the creation of partnerships with leading US universities.

It defended the appropriation of scientific culture by citizens as one of the central supports for the scientific and technological development of Portugal. Through the creation of the National Agency for Scientific Culture - Ciência Viva, and other measures, it promoted the direct involvement of researchers, public and private organizations, students and their families and citizens in general in the growth of science in Portugal. 

He was the first minister with the Science portfolio in Portugal, having held the post in four governments: from 1995 to 1999, from 1999 to 2002 and, finally, from 2005 to 2011, already as Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education. He was president of the National Board of Scientific and Technological Research (JNICT), predecessor of FCT, between 1986 and 1989. As President of JNICT he organized the first Journeys of Science and Technology (1987), launched the S&T Mobilizer Program (1987-1989) and started negotiations for the first structural funding program for Science and Technology - the CIÊNCIA Program (1990-1993). Internally, he reorganized the advisory system of JNICT, introducing a specialized level by scientific area and a general advisory board.

In 1997, as Minister, he divided JNICT into three autonomous organizations: the FCT (funding), the Observatory of Science and Technology (OCT, with the statistics and studies component) and the ICCTI (for international relations).

We leave you an extract from the speech made by the Minister of Planning and Territorial Administration, Luís Valente de Oliveira, at the inauguration of José Mariano Gago as President of JNICT, in 1986, which still resonates todayIn his speech, he said: "Science and Technology must today have a common goal and that is the harmonious development of the country (...)

That is why we sought to make the new President of JNICT not just a great specialist, but a scientist-humanist, capable of reconciling pure and applied research, the Humanities with the Sciences, Science with Technology, Technology with Economy, and Economy with Society and Man, the final destination of all our efforts and center of all our concerns.

The new president should also be a person of easy dialogue and ability to persuade, because it is becoming urgent to make many people aware of science and technology. He should also be sensitive to regional interests and, in a very Portuguese tradition, be open to the world and value international relations, without being a foreigner."

FCT's tribute to Professor Mariano Gago on April 20, 2015.