María S. Soengas is the Head of the Melanoma Group and the Dean for Academic Affairs at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) in Madrid. The long-term goal of her team is to translate basic research in melanoma into the clinic by identifying novel tumour markers and drug targets. Trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (NY), she performed the first functional characterization of apoptotic factors as chemoresistance mediators in melanoma. In 2002 she set up a program in Basic Research in Melanoma at University of Michigan, Department of Dermatology. As an Assistant Professor in this department, her group defined novel roles of stress response programs (involving autophagy, senescence and endosome mobilization). In 2008 she moved to the CNIO, where she became Dean for Academic Affairs in 2011. Results from her team have led to the identification of novel oncogenes, tumor suppressors and lineage-specific tumor drivers. Her leadership capabilities are illustrated by the coordination and participation in various national and international consortia, exemplified the Immutrain Marie Curie EU Training Action, as well as a Team Science Award by the Melanoma Research Alliance in the US. Soengas is particularly interested in translational research, and cofounded Bioncotech Therapeutics (now Highlight Therepeutics), a start up stemming from the CNIO, with proprietary dsRNA-based nanocomplexes currently in Phase II clinical trials. Soengas has received multiple awards (36 since 2010), that illustrate her international leadership.