A Brief History of the Institute

The Station of Experimental Biology of Cogullada, the precursor to the Aula Dei Experimental Station, was founded on January 20th, 1944. The Council for Scientific Research (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC) accepted an offer for the cession of land located in the Cogullada area, from the Savings Bank "Caja General de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad de Zaragoza, Aragón y Rioja" (CAMPZAR, nowadays known as IBERCAJA, Up to 1948, the provisional facilities of the new Research Station were based at the Technical Architecture School, in downtown Zaragoza.

However, the preliminary project to allocate the Experimental Station in the area of Cogullada was soon discarded, due to land acquisition problems. In December 1946, the new project for the Experimental Station was presented as devised for the 4.7-hectare property "La Cartuja", located 13 Km away from Zaragoza and donated by CAMPZAR. The pre-existing buildings were restored and consequently used while the main building was being constructed. In 1948, and due to the proximity to the Cartuja de Aula Dei, (a XVI Century monastery), the initial name "Station of Experimental Biology of Cogullada" was permanently changed to "Estación Experimental de Aula Dei" (EEAD). In 1952 the final transfer to the new building took place. Over the following years, several buildings were constructed or restored for services and agricultural purposes. The gradual acquisition of adjacent properties for field research purposes was supported by the CSIC, sometimes in cooperation with the "CAMPZAR" (e.g. several properties being acquired in 1949, 1951, 1960 and 1966). Nowadays, the Station has 67 hectares available for field research.

From the beginning, the activities of the Centre were organised by combining basic and applied investigation lines according to prevailing research necessities. Due to a policy of recruiting talented people, it became a national reference centre for Agriculture in Spain with an important social and economic impact. The Agreements with the EU and the Spanish development plans financed outstanding scientific achievements in the fields of Cytogenetics, Pomology, Soil Fertility, and Plant Breeding. Notable milestones were the discovery of the number of human chromosomes by an EEAD researcher (Dr. J.H. Tjio), the enormous contribution of the EEAD to the development of triticale, and the breeding, among many other varieties, of the barley cultivar Albacete, which is the most cultivated variety in the history of Spain.

In 1965, the organisational structure of the Station was already quite similar to the current one, counting on the following departments: Genetics and Breeding (with Sections of Cytology, Sugar Beet, Fodder Crops, Cereals and Corn), Pomology, Plant Physiology (with Sections of Biochemistry and Soil Science) and Phytopathology (with a Section of Virology). More recent changes led to the disappearance of the Phytopathology Section, and the creation of the Soil Science and the Soil Fertility Departments (Soil and Water Department and Plant Nutrition Department in the current structure, approved in 2006).

From 1948 to 1998, the research activity of the EEAD was largely disseminated through its own serial publications. These were the following: