Politician and Spanish biochemist born in Barcelona, on January 27, 1934. Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, was director-general of UNESCO from 1987 to 1999.
Degree in pharmacy with a special award at the University of Madrid, he/she gained his doctorate in 1958 with the qualification of outstanding cum laude. He/She began teaching as an Assistant Professor and Deputy of the College in the capital of Spain and in 1963 agreed to the Chair of Biochemistry at the Faculty of pharmacy of the University of Granada. In 1968, he/she was appointed rector of the institution, and in 1972, Chairman of the delegation of the Superior Council of scientific research, CSIC. During the period in which it was linked to the Spanish scientific body, in 1969 took the direction of the section of biochemistry of the Zaidín Experimental Station and since 1970 a counseling number in the institution. Also at the CSIC was named Vice President in 1971 and from the 25 July 1972 until June 12, 1973, he/she held the Presidency in functions of this body, position which he/she combined with the Presidency of the Spanish society of biochemistry.
In his capacity as rector, he/she was appointed Prosecutor in courts in 1968 and, from 1969 to 1972, served as National Director of education. In 1972 he/she became rector's office fee at the University of Granada, and two years later, on January 11, 1974, he/she was appointed Deputy Minister of education and science in the Government chaired by Arias Navarro. From this position, he/she assumed the chairmanship of the Committee for the study of a special regime of education for the four Catalan provinces, and in 1975 ceased as an Undersecretary of education by decree signed in December.
Previously, also in January 1974 agreed to the post of Chairman of the Management Committee of scientific investment and technique of the Presidency of the Government. In April he/she assumed the direction of the Institute of Molecular Biology, and later, the Vice President of the National Commission for cooperation with the United Nations for education, science and culture, UNESCO.
In the general election of June 15, 1977, Mayor Zaragoza arose independent candidate in the list of Union of Democratic Center (UCD) for the province of Granada, and obtained a seat of Deputy. In the lower House, he/she held the chairmanship of the Committee on education and science and the scientific and technical research Advisory Committee.
Despite his intense political activity, Mayor Zaragoza did not abandon his teaching career. In 1978 he/she obtained the Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Faculty of Sciences of the Autonomous University of Madrid and he/she was appointed director of the Department of biochemistry. Also on June 7 of that year he/she agreed to the post of Deputy director-general of UNESCO, based in Paris. For the first time a Spanish occupied a relevant position in the United Nations and, as a result of this appointment, resigned his parliamentary seat and its status as Chief of the then President of the Government, Adolfo Suárez.
In 1981 he/she returned to Spain and was appointed Minister of education and science in the second Government of Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo. In 1983 he/she was elected President scientific center of Molecular Biology of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, since it combined with the director of the Institute of Sciences of man. It was candidate on June 10, 1987 at the Parliament in Strasbourg, at the first elections, and was elected MEP for the Democratic Centre and Social (CDS).
In mid-July of that year, it was presented to the Executive Board of UNESCO as a candidate to the general direction of this organization. Voting Federico Mayor Zaragoza had the support of most of the countries of Western Europe and Latin America, and on November 7, 1987 was elected director general of the world body of science and culture, for a period of six years. On November 6, 1993 he/she won re-election to the post and remained in the post until November 1999 when it was replaced by the Japanese Koïchiro Matsuura.
After his release from UNESCO, it lasted for five years his teaching at the University. In September 2004, the UAM celebrated his farewell from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a tribute ceremony where he/she received the Medal of the institution. The international community again require its diplomatic experience in 2005 when he/she was elected Co-President of the Group of high level (GAN) responsible for developing the Alliance of civilisations, promoted in the United Nations by the President of the Spanish Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyio Erdogan.
He was candidate for the Prince of Asturias Concord Prize, 1994, is doctor honoris causa by the University of Barcelona, Polytechnic University of Madrid, Oviedo, Estremadura, and Alcalá de Henares, among others; and it is in possession of numerous awards. Author and co-author of several books on biochemistry, has published more than one hundred articles on this subject.
In 2007 he/she received the mother Terra of the ONES Mediterrània awards award for his career in the fight for equality and social and environmental justice. February 19, 2008 he/she was named "Favorite son" of the Andalusian community in the Council of Minister of the Junta de Andalucía held that same day. On February 28, day of Andalusia, received his award at the Theatre de la Maestranza of Seville, in one of the events organized on the occasion of the regional festivity.