The award was established in June 1926 by King Alfonso XIII to recognize major contributions to the Spanish nation and to honor those who strive to improve the quality of life for all Spanish citizens. The Order is reserved for those who have “rendered outstanding service to the state of Spain through exemplary initiatives and distinguished service."
Edelman’s contributions to Spanish society focus on enhancing Spanish translational research and bringing Spanish and United States academia together. What began as a small exchange program between the Harvard-MIT Biomedical Engineering Center directed by Edelman and the Institut Químic de Sarrià (IQS) has now grown into a major international initiative. In 1993, IQS Director General Enric Julià approached Edelman and Dr. Mercedes Balcells (MIT research scientist and IQS Professor in Bioengineering) to begin collaborative student research projects. The programs initiated by Edelman, Julià and Balcells, and subsequently supported in major part by the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, grew rapidly and served as the nucleus for the MIT-Spain Program and for an increasing number of collaborations between scientists in Spain and the United States. Balcells has been MIT-Spain’s co-director since its inception.
MIT-Spain is one of the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), which connect MIT students and faculty with research and innovation around the world. MIT's largest international program, MISTI is a pioneer in applied international studies. Since 2007, 150 MIT students have chosen MIT-Spain as their channel to explore job opportunities in science technology, business, and engineering in Spain. An equal number of Spanish students have similarly come to United States universities. More than 80 Spanish companies and institutions have actively participated in MIT-Spain as a channel to strengthen links with MIT. Edelman continues to bridge the full array of Spanish and U.S. universities and their partners.
Edelman is also professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School and a senior physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He received his PhD and MD from HST. Along with his scientific collaborations with Spain, Edelman is a member of the MIT-Spain Advisory Board.