5 minutes with Professor J. Alejandro Madrigal

prof-alejandro-madrigal-copyAlejandro Madrigal is a Mexican-British world-recognised academic and award-winning researcher in the field of stem cell transplantation who combines his technical expertise and own experiences with a vivacious imagination to brilliantly present his opera prima.

He trained at prestigious University’s such as Harvard, Stanford, University College London and at the Universidad National Autonoma of Mexico. He is Scientific Director of the Anthony Nolan Research Institute, Professor of Haematology and Pro-Vice-Provost for Latin America for UCL in the UK.

He has published over 570 scientific papers and has been cited more than 5,400 times (in journals such as Nature, Lancet etc). He has received two Honoris Causa and many distinguished awards and memberships. He was awarded the highest distinction from the Mexican Government given to Mexicans abroad, the Ohtli Award, for  “opening the road to other Mexican fellows”.

Those days of Rage is his first and long awaited novel.


1. What was the last book you read?
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. I found this fascinating, in particular, the chapter entitled “Zebras, Unhappy  Marriages, and the Anna Karenina Principle” that he modified into ‘domestic  animals are all alike, every undomestical animal is undomesticable in its own  way”.  What a sentence!

2. How did you buy it?
I bought this book as a paperback in New York airport and almost read all of it  during  my journey to London.

3. What’s next on your reading list?
 I have decided to read again The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner. Having read it many years ago, I still have the feeling that I have not completely appreciated or understood it.  I will have another go!

4. Which writer would you have loved to have met – and why?
I would have loved to have met Romain Gary, a man with multiple pseudonyms, born Romain Kacew, known as Emile Ajar, he wrote ‘La Vie Devant Soi’ with which he won the Prix Concourt twice.  His wild personality led him to be a novelist, a World War II Aviator, film director and a very eccentric individual.

5. Tell us what you/your company does in 20 words or fewer?
As Scientific Director of the Anthony Nolan Research Institute, we search for ways to improve the outcome of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation for patients with leukaemia and other fatal blood conditions.

6. What do you like about your job?
 Having the opportunity to save the lives of patients with cancer.

7. Go on, let us know your musical guilty pleasure.
“Chaconne” by Bach; a sublime piece of music written for one instrument – the violin. Brahms once wrote to Clara Schumann that, “If he would have written this piece, it would have driven him out of his mind”.

8.  Which great novel have you tried to read – but failed?
Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney.

9. What is the silliest thing you have on your desk?
A Mexican Day of the Dead papier-mache artesan figure of a doctor.

10. Tell us about a passionate interest you have outside the business.
Playing tennis with friends and having a ‘dodgy calf’.

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