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A Lifetime Dedicated to Dementia 

 
Dr. Mercè Boada, Gold Medal for Scientific Merit 

"Everything I have done, everything I continue to do, is to improve the quality of life of people with dementia and to make a more inclusive and better city for this group." 

Dr. Mercè Boada, medical director of Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona, has received the medal for scientific merit in the field of life and health sciences from Jaume Collboni, mayor of Barcelona, for contributing to positioning Barcelona as a benchmark in dementia research and for her innovative approach in the search for Alzheimer's treatments. 

This recognition adds to other important awards such as the Josep Trueta Medal for health merit (2021), the Cross of Sant Jordi (2016), and the Alzheimer's Prize from the Spanish Society of Neurology. 

A Childhood Marked by the Women of Her Family 

The family of the current medical director of Ace Alzheimer Center was in the fish trade, and her childhood was spent in a house full of life, shared with her great-grandmother, two paternal grandparents, and her maternal grandmother. "Living with my grandparents allowed me to understand what it means to be hierarchical, each one had different responsibilities." Her summer stays in Roses, where she enjoyed the beach and reading, marked a stage full of happiness and learning. "I didn't have an allowance, but I always had what I needed." 

The matriarchy that always ruled her house had one clear thing: they did not want a granddaughter or daughter who was unaware of the value of work and who was not conscious that things do not fall from the sky. "Out of practicality, I enrolled in the Faculty of Economics, because it was the only one that opened in the evenings. I was not a brilliant student, as I worked seven hours in the fish business before going to class." 

Thanks to the influence of a group of friends, her destiny took an unexpected turn, and she ended up enrolling in medical school. "We aspired to change the paradigm of private medicine restricted to a few privileged people for quality public medicine that would reach everyone." 

A Path to Studying the Brain 

After graduating, Boada specialized in malignant brain tumors and chemotherapy, training in Texas and New York. However, upon returning to Vall d'Hebron, she found it difficult to continue this line because oncology was not yet established in our country. It was then that Dr. Miquel Vilardell introduced her to the "Vida als anys" program of the Generalitat de Catalunya, a turning point that "made me understand the importance of better addressing cognitive problems for the medicine of the future." 

Mercè Boada and Lluís Tárraga: A Legacy for the Future 

From there, she met Lluís Tárraga, whom she would marry years later. Together, they founded the ACE Foundation, today Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona, a non-profit entity dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, and research of Alzheimer's, and to the support of patients and their families. 

Boada is an advocate for teamwork. "Big names don't disappear by working in teams. Teams will go much further. At home, they say that the more legs are running, the more people we will reach the goal. The spirit of my house is all for one. In hospitals, and also at Ace, patients go because they have teams with good training and projection, they are experts, they are updated in knowledge and maintain a service attitude." 

Although she acknowledges that she would have liked to practice outside her country, "surely my colleagues who went to the United States have had better opportunities. But I don't look back, I have had my trajectory and my story. Could the world be better? Yes, but this is my world." Together with Lluís, she has built a legacy with Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona, which will be remembered in Catalonia for its invaluable contribution to Alzheimer's care. 

The story of Dr. Mercè Boada is that of a woman who, despite challenges and changes in direction, remained true to her convictions and passions, leaving an indelible mark in the field of dementia and in the lives of those she has helped. Thanks to this dedication, the doctor receives the gold medal for scientific merit from Barcelona. 

Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona, a Benchmark Entity in Spain 

Ace Alzheimer Center is a benchmark entity in the field of aging, cognitive impairment, and dementia. Its care model is based on a holistic conception of the person, their determinants, and their own environment. 

The center has units for diagnosis, treatment, research, training, and awareness and is the only center in the country that accompanies the patient and caregiver throughout the course of the disease. 

Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona has a multidisciplinary team of 103 professionals (81% women in leadership positions), committed to equal opportunities and the development of female talent. Its team has served more than 32,000 people since 1996 and annually attends to more than 8,000 patients and makes close to 2,000 new diagnoses

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