Benjamí Oller wins one of the "Premis Pioner 2015"

This award recognizes his thesis, which addressed the use of shuttle peptides to overcome the blood-brain barrier.

The young scientist Benjamí Oller, who recently defended his PhD thesis, done in Prof. Ernest Giralt’s lab at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), has been awarded one of the five “Premis Pioner 2015” (Pioneer Prizes 2015), which are presented by CERCA, an organisation belonging to the Catalan Government. Entitled "From bee venom to blood-brain barrier shuttles. Development of minimized apamin derivatives for brain delivery of antibodies and other cargoes", his thesis addressed the use of derivatives of apamin—bee venom— as shuttle peptides to overcome the blood-brain barrier.

These prizes seek to recognize researchers at CERCA centres who, in the last 18 months, have presented a doctoral thesis with a clear vocation to launch or strengthen a technology or product of industrial or commercial interest or that can make a significant contribution to the development of public policies. Nineteen scientists from 13 research centres in Catalonia have participated in this second edition of the prizes. Each prize comes with 1000 Euros, which has been provided by the organisations and companies that collaborate with this initiative.

The jury comprised the following: Eduard Balbuena, professor with the Department of Business Studies at the UAB; Javier Marcipar, director of CIMNE Tecnologia; Lluís Blanc, director of the Institut Universitari Parc Taulí; Josep Maria Pujals, lawyer with the Oficina Ponti; and Anna López Lozano, director of Intellectual Property at EQ Esteve.

Benjamí Oller joined IRB Barcelona’s Design, synthesis and structure of peptides and proteins lab, headed by Prof. Ernest Giralt, in 2010 to start his PhD, with a grant from the International "laCaixa" PhD Programme. During his stay at the centre, he was also a tutor in the "Crazy about Biomedicine" course and a member of the PhD Student Council, as well as the Organising Committee of the 3rd IRB PhD Symposium. After five years at IRB Barcelona, in January Benjamí Oller will start his postdoctoral training in Cambridge, UK.

The other awardees of the “Premis Pioner” were Michal Drozdzal, from the Computer Vision Center (CVC), Alessandro Franci, from the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE), and Maria Soler Aznar and Núria Alejandra Vázquez Mera, from the Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (ICN2).