Postdoc Enrique Marcos (Barcelona 1982) is a chemist, a theoretical chemist to be exact. He has just published his first paper in Science, in which he explains how to computationally design the pocket-like cavities of proteins—essential areas that allow many proteins to perform their functions. And he has just been awarded a second Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Fellowship.
Ground-breaking research sometimes arises as a result of coincidence, multidisciplinarity and, of course, perseverance. Biochemist Oriol Gallego (Barcelona, 1978) is a Ramón y Cajal Research Associate in Raúl Méndez’s Translational Control of Cell Cycle and Differentiation Lab. Oriol led a promising study that has just been published in Cell. Combining genetic engineering, super-resolution microscopy, and biocomputation, he was able to see a 3D “protein nanomachine” in a living yeast cell. This breakthrough paves the way for inspiring future discoveries, such as the live observation of how viruses use protein complexes to infect cells.
It was the first time that Group Leader and ICREA researcher Maria Macias organised a Barcelona BioMed Conference, in collaboration with the BBVA Foundation, held on 28-30 November 2016. When asked about the experience, she highlights that having been able to draw together experts from very diverse research fields and backgrounds was “extremely fulfilling” for her. The conference programme covered areas spanning genomics to systems biology, cellular structural biology, big data, and patients-focussed approaches.
For more than 40 years, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Europe's flagship research center for basic research into the life sciences, has been seeding Europe's countries with highly trained scientists. Researchers who join EMBL take advantage of a truly distinct combination of a critical mass of scientists working in frontier areas of the molecular life science, access to some of the worlds most advanced technologies and research infrastructures, and exceptional training opportunities, all within a remarkably supportive, stimulating and collegial environment. After a maximum of nine years, they move on to take up...
Judith Palà (Barcelona, 1989), a PhD student in the Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Programme, spent four months last summer at the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research of the University of Toronto, in Canada. “My goal,” she explains, “was to chemically synthesise the sonic hedgehog, or shh, protein.” First discovered in the fruit fly, shh belongs to a family of proteins that play a key role in organogenesis. “But it is also a very important protein in cancer, so my idea was to look for the peptides capable of interacting with it and block its effects.”
After eight years, Francisco Barriga is ready for a new stage in his scientific career. He says that IRB Barcelona “shaped” him as a scientist and that he “learnt to ask the right scientific questions.” But he also got involved in many outreach activities. “Over the years, I have never met anyone who did not find what we do interesting. We just need to find the right way to talk about it,” he says.
The youngest and most restless scientists often keep themselves busy with projects outside their labs. One such project is the "Scientists Dating Forum," which has attracted the interest of several PhD students at IRB Barcelona.
In vivo met Yoran Beldengrün, a Swiss PhD student at the Institute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia – CSIC, who is behind the initiative in which more than 50 people—including scientists, journalists, artists, and entrepreneurs—have been actively involved since the beginning of the year.
“I noticed that many people were...
Ana Janic (Serbia, 1978) finished a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and Physiology at the University of Belgrade in 2005, after which she moved to Barcelona for a summer internship in Cayetano González’s Cell Division Laboratory. This experience led her to undertake a PhD at IRB Barcelona, during which she developed a research project in the field of Drosophila tumour biology. Her thesis was graded cum laude by the University of Barcelona and was awarded the “Premis Extraordinaris de Doctorat 2011” as the best doctoral thesis that year. She then moved to Andreas Strasser’s Lab at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, to carry out postdoctoral research in molecular genetics of haematopoietic malignancies. Ana and her husband have been living in Australia since 2011, and they had a daughter, Emma, in 2014. She visited IRB Barcelona in October to give a talk on her current research.
On 10 October, IRB Barcelona, in collaboration the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia and the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), held the workshop “Career progression in science - options beyond the bench”, a yearly event aimed at offering insight to young researchers about potential careers outside academia. The idea is to inspire PhD students and offer them a range of career options to consider after they complete their doctoral studies.
Maribel Hernández, Francisco Barriga, Clara Suñer and Saska Ivanova have been working with teachers in the Mare de Déu de Montserrat primary school in Cornellà to help them build tools based on science that they can use in their classrooms.