Ph.D. in Microbiology/Biochemistry from the University of Salamanca in 1978. He carried out postdoctoral training at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology (Nutley, NJ) (79-81) and the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology of the National Cancer Institute (NCI, National institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Md) (81-84). From 1985-2000 he held Principal Investigator positions at the Bethesda NIH campus, first at the Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, NIAID (85-90) and then at the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, NCI (91-00). At the end of 1999 he rejoined the University of Salamanca as Professor of the Department of Microbiology & Genetics and Director of the Cancer Research Center-Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology of Cancer (CIC-IBMCC, CSIC-USAL).
Dr. Santos scientific career has evolved in close temporal sync with the development of Molecular Oncology. Working as a postdoc at the NCI in the early eighties, he contributed the cloning and characterization of the first human oncogene (H-ras, from T24 bladder carcinoma cells). After those seminal contributions opening the field and human oncogenes, his research has always focused on the structure, function and regulation of genes and proteins of the Ras family. During the 80´s decade, the early work isolating the H-ras oncogene and demonstrating its activation by point mutation was quickly followed by his demonstration, for the first time in humans, of the presence of an activated K-ras oncogene in tumor, but not normal tissue, of the same patient. During the following 90´s decade, Dr Santos´ lab used Ras-dependent models of proliferation or differentiation, including Xenopus oocytes or 3T3L1 preadipocytes, to produce additional contributions advancing the understanding of the structure/function of Ras proteins and their participation in signal transduction pathways controlling cellular proliferation and differentiation in eukaryotes. Finally, since 2000 Dr Santos research has focused on documenting the functional specificity of the members of the Ras family (H-Ras, N-Ras and K-Ras) and their specific GEF (guanine nucleotide exchange factors) activators belonging to the GRF and SOS families, in various physiological and pathological processes such as cancer.
Dr Santos directs the CIC-IBMCC Cancer Research Institute jointly sponsored by University of Salamanca (USAL) and the Spanish Research Council (CSIC), and was National Coordinator of the Spanish Cooperative Cancer Research Network (RTICC) sponsored by the National Institute of Health Carlos III, Spain since its inception in 2003. He serves on various Editorial and Advisory Boards and has mentored over 50 postdocs and graduate students during his scientific career. He has received a number of scientific awards including the the Severo Ochoa Award for Biomedical Research, the Castile & Leon Scientific Research Award, the Spanish Health Ministry Encomienda or the Echevarne Oncology Award, and is also an elected member of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Salamanca and the European Academy of Cancer Sciences (EACS, Brussels).