Welcome to 2019:
A year full of achievements and challenges

This year, 2019, has been intense and highly productive, a year in which all the fields in which we conduct impactful science of excellence have been consolidated. 

IRB Barcelona’s research has been reflected in more than 160 articles, 87.5% falling in the first quartile and 71.8% in the first decile, with publications in journals with the highest impact, such as Nature, Cell and Nature Genetics. We have made key findings in cancer about the genetic alterations caused by chemotherapy and we have developed an algorithm that can predict those cancer patients who are most likely to benefit from immunotherapy. In the field of aging and metabolism, we have found that the body can respond to changes between day and night independently of the brain and we have also reported on a possible therapy for non-alcoholic fatty liver. We have also described a protein that is essential for Epstein-Barr virus infection, which causes mononucleosis and cancer, and we have identified possible regulators of the differences in tumours between the sexes.

This year, the scientific capacity of IRB Barcelona has been boosted with the incorporation of ICREA researcher Toni Gabaldón as Group Leader of the Comparative Genomics Laboratory, which is shared with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC). Also, together with ICREA, we have created the spin-off "Ona Therapeutics", a company led by researchers Salvador Aznar-Benitah and Valerie Vanhooren that aims to develop a new therapy for metastasis.

With regard to recognition, this year, Eduard Batlle has been awarded the “Ciutat de Barcelona” prize for his research into metastasis; Joan J. Guinovart has received the “XXII Prize of the Royal Academy of Pharmacy of Catalonia” for his career; Francesc Posas and Modesto Orozco have won the “ICREA Academy” Award; Glòria Pascual has been presented with the “Scientific Innovation” Award from the Pfizer Foundation; and Salvador Aznar Benitah has been doubly acknowledged, receiving the “Constantes y Vitales a la Investigación Biomédica y la Prevención en Salud” and “Fundación Carmen y Severo Ochoa” Awards. The spin-off Nostrum Biodiscovery has received the Senén Vilaró Prize.

At the international level, we have continued to channel efforts into increasing our presence in emblematic European projects and maintaining leadership in science, innovation and talent training. In this context, we would like to highlight the ENABLE and Caliper projects. Once again, the organisation of two Biomed conferences, supported by the BBVA Foundation, has been a great success in terms of participation and media coverage.

The beginning of the year marked the launch of the Starlife project, a joint initiative with the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre (BSC) and the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG). Financed by La Caixa and the Generalitat de Catalunya, Starlife is a computer infrastructure designed to give impetus to biomedical research of excellence and precision medicine.

Finally, we wish to highlight our commitment to society, reflected in the organisation of numerous scientific dissemination activities aimed at bringing science closer to the public and thus strengthening our relationship with them. Some notable examples are our open day ExperienceIRB, the Crazy for Science Programme for sixth form students—an initiative supported by La Pedrera Foundation—and the Metastasis Challenge fundraising campaign, in which more than 4,000 people have collaborated.

In short, IRB Barcelona finds itself in an ideal position to tackle the challenges that will come in future years, and it will continue to work towards a healthier world.


Francesc Posas
Director of IRB Barcelona

Thank you!

We want to thank all the people and organisations that have contributed to furthering our mission, namely to bring biomedical advances to society and thus improve quality of life.



Background photo: Skin cancer stem cells to study biological processes related to different types of cancer and metastasis. Lorenzo Rinaldi, Alumni.