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The Spanish National Cancer Research Center, which has been mired in controversy for the past two years, is hoping to leave its troubles behind under the leadership of its new director, Spanish molecular biologist Maria Blasco, reports ScienceInsider's Elisabeth Pain. Blasco, who did a postdoc at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York with Nobel laureate Carol Greider, is best known for her research on telomeres and their roles in cancer and aging, Pain says. She replaces founding director Mariano Barbacid, who announced his intention to step down in 2009. Barbacid has been a controversial figure since he announced he was leaving the institute — had intended to establish a commercial partnership to fund the development of anticancer drugs, but the Spanish government declared it illegal. Members of the institute's board, who were hoping to leave controversy behind with Baracid, say they're satisfied with the choice they've made to appoint Blasco to the post. Others, however, were hoping for an outsider to lead the institute, Pain says. Manel Esteller, director of the Cancer Epigenetics and Biology Program at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute in Barcelona, says it's good that a woman was appointed to the job, but that Blasco herself was not the right choice, Pain adds.

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