A call to action: “Learn science and technology in a fun and participative way!” An objective: to foster the interest of girls aged 7 to 12 in science and technology through fun workshops. Activities allow girls to discover the world of research and innovation by learning about great female scientists who have made significant contributions to scientific knowledge. And three scientists: Lada Murcia and Celia Santos, PhD students with the Development and Growth Control Lab, and Teresa Juan, PhD student with the Structural Bioinformatics and Network Biology Lab. These are the three key ingredients of the outreach initiative “Noies al Lab” (“Girls take to the Lab”).
Part of the European Research Council’s reasoning for providing their coveted Starting Grants is to “provide top talent with good conditions at the right time to thrive.” For the team led by Fran Supek (b. Zagreb, Croatia, 1981), the right time has just arrived with the award of a Starting Grant worth 1.5 million euros of funding. His project, called HYPER-INSIGHT, was among the 13% of successful proposals of the 3,085 applications made to the 2017 ‘Starting Grants’ Call.
Thanks to the generous donations of many individuals, organisations and companies to IRB Barcelona over the last three years, the Institute has launched the first call of the IRB Barcelona Philanthropy Fund. Two biomedical research projects will be funded with 40,000 euros. One of the projects selected will be in the field of oncology, to accommodate all donations made specifically for cancer and metastasis research.
After spending three years as a Visiting Student in the Complex Metabolic Diseases and Mitochondria Lab led by Antonio Zorzano, Jordi Coste (b. Barcelona, 1993) is about to embark on new projects in the United States. This young scientist is leaving behind what he considers “a big family” at IRB Barcelona to pursue a career more focused on clinical counselling. But before crossing the pond, he has found time to look back on his years with us: “The Institute has helped me to improve my critical and logical thinking skills, and this will definitely help me in the future.”
The first ENABLE Scientific Symposium “Breaking Down Complexity: Innovative Models and Techniques in Biomedicine”, is gearing up to welcome more than 250 young researchers to Barcelona from 15 to 17 November. The Symposium is mainly organised by and for PhD students and Postdocs from four international institutes, including IRB Barcelona. Covering a wide range of topics, from synthetic biology to translational medicine, the event will involve eight high-profile invited speakers, 16 short talks and 100 posters presented by attendees, and will offer opportunities for career development and outreach initiatives.
The academic year began with the arrival of 11 new students to IRB Barcelona’s International PhD Programme—among them Elena Meléndez Esteban (b. Barcelona, 1993), the recipient of the first "IRB Barcelona Futur” PhD fellowship. This fellowship has come about from the campaign with the same name launched by the institute in December 2016 to increase public awareness of the importance of biomedical research and PhD training. “So many people have shown such generosity in supporting the PhD training of a young researcher whom they have never met,” says Elena.
How does the circadian clock change when we get older? This is the question that has driven research associate Guiomar Solanas and “la Caixa” PhD student Francisca Oliveira Peixoto, both at IRB Barcelona, to study the daily pattern of gene activity. The answer, as laid out in two studies headed by Salvador Aznar Benitah and published in the journal Cell, rejects the widely held belief that stem cells lose their circadian rhythm with age. The studies demonstrate that the daily pattern of gene activity is not lost with age but is rather reprogrammed for new functions and that a low calorie diet delays alterations in the rhythm of stem cells.
The 2017 IRB Barcelona Alumni of Excellence Award has gone to Marc Liesa, who obtained his PhD in 2008 in Antonio Zorzano’s Complex Metabolic Diseases and Mitochondria Laboratory. The award, established in 2016, acknowledges the excellence of former IRB Barcelona scientists and is given with the support of Eppendorf. Liesa visited the Institute on 5 May to receive the distinction. He talks about his science and shares some secrets of his success.
The IRB Barcelona community is mourning the loss of one of its youngest and brightest members. Fèlix Junquera Tejeda, a student at Fedac Horta school and member of the 2016-2017 Crazy About Biomedicine programme, passed away on June 1 at the age of 17.
To increase public awareness of science, researchers are increasingly encouraged to explain what they do and why they do it and in the process they are challenged to break the stereotype of a scientist. But to be able to engage non-scientific audiences, the first step is to know how stir up curiosity about science. In April, Rachel Cruickshank, founder of Barcelona Fun Science, held a workshop using demonstrations and science-play sessions to reach adult audiences at IRB Barcelona.