In Vivo - March 2016


INVIVO - Newsletter of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine - IRB Barcelona
View online (Click here if your message is clipped) MARCH 2016
RESEARCH NEWS
PEPTIDE SYNTHESIS
A promising compound against a cancer target
The molecules synthesized by Ernest Giralt’s lab bind the Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) to its receptor, an interaction that accelerates the metabolism of tumour cells. This target received little attention as a therapeutic target so far.
Meet also Salva, the peptide hunter: “I’m still enthusiastic. Just a bit less naïve,” he says. Salva Guardiola, PhD student in Ernest Giralt’s Lab, is the first author of the ChemBioChem paper. Read the interview here.
DROSOPHILA RESEARCH
Molecular signals of facultative stem cells identified
Scientists from Jordi Casanova's lab reveal that the combination of two molecular signals determines which differentiated cells can regain their stem cell properties. This new type of stem cells, called facultative, show that many mature cells can maintain great plasticity.
DROSOPHILA RESEARCH
How tracheal cells talk to their matrix
The cells of an organism interact not only with each other but with the extracellular matrix that surrounds them. A new study published in eLife and headed by Jordi Casanova describes a cell communication mechanism that allows for the organisation of the extracellular matrix and clarifies how this structure affects cells through a feedback system.
 
DROSOPHILA RESEARCH
Dangerous liaisons among genomic instability, aneuploidity, and cancer
A study led by ICREA researchers Marco Milán and Ángel Nebreda explains how the molecular and cellular mechanisms triggered by aneuploid cells - those with an abnormal number of chromosomes - can give rise to tumours. The research widens the Darwinian perspective of genomic stability in the development of cancer. “Somehow the aneuploidy derived from this genomic instability also causes metabolic stress, which in turn leads to the expression of a series of signals that can enhance tumour growth and development,” says Milán.
 
RARE DISEASES RESEARCH
Discovery of a gene associated with a set of poorly understood rare diseases
Scientists in Travis Stracker's lab identify GEMC1 as a master gene for the generation of multiciliated cells—cells with fine filaments that move fluids and substances—which are found exclusively in the brain, respiratory tract, and reproductive system. Defects in multiciliated cells lead to ciliopathies—rare and complex diseases that are poorly understood and for which not all causative genes have been identified.
FOCUS
 
NEW INSTRUMENTATION
IRB Barcelona scientists welcome vanguard visceral imaging technology
Top-notch science needs sharp minds but also cutting-edge instruments. IRB Barcelona has recently acquired key pieces of equipment that will ensure optimal results in areas such as metastasis and metabolic disease research. The two new machines are called EchoMRI and IVIS Spectrum CT. David Sebastián and Marc Guiu explain to In vivo how IRB Barcelona research will profit from them.
INNOVATION NEWS
INBIOMOTION
”la Caixa” invests in IRB Barcelona's spin off
The company, founded by group leader Roger Gomis, concludes a 2.2 million € round led by ”la Caixa” through Caixa Capital Risc. Also participating in the operation were Ysios Capital and Fundación Vila Casas. Inbiomotion develops diagnostic products for predicting risks that cancer patients may suffer bone metastasis.
INNOVATION WORKSHOP SERIES
Building bridges:
be ready to network
8 March saw the launch of a new line of activity within the Innovation Workshop series. “Building bridges in your network” aims to give members of the IRB Barcelona community tools to help them expand their network of professional contacts in the biomedical sector. Alba Olivares is responsible for this series.
IN VIVO INTERVIEW
Meet the newly appointed EiR Marc Ramis
The Innovation Department has launched a new initiative targeting IRB Barcelona scientists interested in strengthening their entrepreneurial skills. In vivo met Marc Ramis, the “Entrepreneur in Residence” (EiR), who explains what this initiative is all about.
SPOTLIGHT
 
IN VIVO INTERVIEW
“If you want a grant, impress your peers, understand the evaluation process, and be ready to drink coffee all around Europe”
Seán McCarthy has been a researcher, manager, group leader, and company director in the field of photovoltaic science in Ireland. But now his job is to inspire scientists to make sure thet they get a kick of writing a proposal for a European grant. His aim? “To bring back fun and satisfaction into proposal writing.”
PHD NEWS
DEADLINE: 30 MARCH
Second edition of PhD4MD launched
Following the success of the first edition of the PhD programme for physicians - PhD4MD, an initiative created by the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), the August Pi i Sunyer Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBAPS), the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR), the participating centres have now launched a second edition. In vivo met PhD student Juan Miguel Cejalvo in January.
ELECTIONS
New Student Council in office
Once a year, the student body elects the members of the Student Council. These PhD student representatives are in charge of organizing student-run activities as well as communication between the student community and the Institute's direction. This year, six out of 10 offices were renewed and the Council welcomed Ricardo Viais (Cell & Developmental Biology), Jürgen Walther (Structural and Computational Biology), Albert Antolin (Molecular Medicine), Cristina Fuster and Craig Donoghue (Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology), and Diana Domínguez (Oncology).
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT NEWS
INNOVATIVE EDUCATIONAL PROJECT FOR CHILDREN AND THEIR TEACHERS
IRB Barcelona in tandem with a primary school to boost academic results through biomedicine
Tandem Schools are innovative educational projects involving a partnership between a school and a centre of reference. In this regard, the two partners work together to design a school curriculum around a given theme and to boost academic results, the standing of the school, and social cohesion. This is the 9th Tandem Programme to be promoted by the Catalunya-La Pedrera Foundation since 2011, and the first to involve a research centre and a primary school. “Adapting biomedicine to a school curriculum is a fantastic project that allows interactions between three very different organisations but which share a common goal, namely to improve teaching practice in general and sciences in particular,” says Joan J. Guinovart.
BATX2LAB
Hard high school work rewarded at the PCB
High school studentes who performed their treballs de recerca at the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), were handed a certificate on 9 March. Students who took part in the Crazy About Biomedicine 2015 programme and those who spent weeks in the labs of the institutes in the PCB were recognised their hard work. One of the three best treballs de recerca was by Míriam Condeminas (first row to the right in the picture), who worked with Postdoctoral Fellow Mariana Muzzopappa on the analysis of the epithelial tumours in Drosophila's wing imaginal disks.
CRAZY ABOUT BIOMEDICINE
24 more 'crazies' ready to move on and become 'real' scientists
Another 24 Crazy About Biomedicine students have concluded their high school studies and with them, their one-year stay of working side-by-side with twelve young researchers at IRB Barcelona who have guided them through their cutting-edge research, inspiring them for years to come. As their predecessors, many Crazies plan to move on to a scientific career at University. Crazy about Science is a programme sponsored by the Catalunya-La Pedrera Foundation.
INTERNATIONAL YOUTH CHALLENGE
Are you passionate about science?
IRB Barcelona is a partner institute involved in Barcelona International Youth Science Challenge (BIYSC), a 2-week excellence programme that aims to stimulate scientific talent among young people from all over the world. Participants will work in small groups on different scientific challenges in research centres based in Catalonia, enjoying the company of peers that share their same passion, attending scientific lectures, and debating on the most successful scientific advances taking place worldwide.
PHILANTHROPY NEWS
 
IN VIVO INTERVIEW
Carlos Romero: “I have always wanted to contribute in helping people suffering from cancer”
For Carlos Romero, swimming across the Strait of Gibraltar took more mental than physical effort. "It is fight against oneself," says the Baix Llobregat resident, who crossed the 14 km between Spain and Morocco on September 22 in favour of cancer research carried out at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine. On 19 February, he came to IRB Barcelona for the symbolic handing over of the proceeds.
AWARDS
EDUARD BATLLE
Lilly Foundation's 2016 Biomedical Research Award
On 10 March, the IRB Barcelona group leader and ICREA Professor was recognised in the category of preclinical research for his contributions to the understanding of colon cancer. These awards recognise the scientific excellence of researchers in Spain who contribute to the development of biomedicine and health sciences.
INSTITUTIONAL
A new Severo Ochoa award of excellence
On 2 February, Joan J. Guinovart travelled to Madrid to receive for the second time the Severo Ochoa award of excellence. The renewal of the award, announced last October, brings with it 4 million euros of funding aver the next four years. Chaired by the Secretary of State for R+D+I, Carmen Vela, the award ceremony was attended by representatives from the 11 centres presented with the distinction this year.
ALEJANDRO GIL &
ERNEST SALOMÓ
Brilliant chemists
On 5 February, the Catalan Chemistry Society (SCQ) awarded PhD students Alejandro Gil and Ernest Salomó (in Ernest Giralt's lab) a prize for the best talk in the 9th Symposium of the Young Catalan Researchers. The prize consists of an invitation to attend the Eurochem 2016 in Sevilla in September. Alejandro works on the synthesis of compounds from a sponge, while Ernest works on chiral catalysts and their use in asymmetric reactions.
IN SHORT
 
RARE DISEASES DAY 2016
Coming together to make research on rare diseases possible
On 29 February, Rare Diseases Day, IRB Barcelona Director Joan J. Guinovart presented his group’s research on Lafora Disease in a dedicated round table at a workshop in the Hospital Clinic Barcelona. IRB Barcelona supports research on rare diseases and is currently conducting about 20 studies on such diseases.
SUMMER INTERNSHIPS
Call open for the new Maths4Life
Are you an outstanding and highly motivated undergraduate or MSc student with a strong interest in mathematics and statistics? Then this programme is for you. We are looking for students who wish to get involved in multidisciplinary research at the interface between mathematics, statistics, informatics, and biomedicine. Successful candidates will collaborate in developing cutting-edge statistical/computational methods to apply to biological and biomedical research topics. Deadline: 29 April.
MEET OUR SCIENTISTS SERIES
Xavier Salvatella: "Magical Choreography"
Take a look at the second installment in this series, launched in 2016, that brings together talent and character, passion and vision, science and ambition, with the aim to give people a glimpse into the research performed at IRB Barcelona. In this video, Xavier Salvatella, in Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Programme, talks about choreographed atoms, responsabilities and Tintin.
PEOPLE AT IRB
ON THE MOVE
Helena González
After more than 6 years, Helena González left IRB Barcelona to pursue her dream. Thanks to Big Van: Científicos Sobre Ruedas, the company she created together with colleagues from the first Spanish edition of FameLab, she will be working on two European projects. “We have to show society what we do in the labs, but we must learn how to do it,” she urges.
NEW AT IRB BARCELONA
Alessandro Ruffoni
Italian COFUND Postdoctoral Fellow Alessandro Ruffoni joins the abundant group of athlete-scientists at IRB Barcelona. In January, this pharmaceutical chemist from the University of Milan took up his joint research position in Antoni Riera’s Asymmetric Synthesis’ Lab and Xavier Salvatella’s Molecular Biophysics Lab. “The lab? An amusement park for me,” he says.
ALUMNI PROFILE
Fayna García
Fayna García did her doctoral thesis on the synthesis of peptides of biomedical interest with Fernando Albericio. She completed her PhD in 2007, and she is now Assistant Professor at the Hokkaido University (HU) School of Life Sciences. She encourages young researchers to follow her path: “Come east. Asian countries are enthusiastic to recruit foreigners.”
COMING UP
31 MAY - 2 JUN
 
From Science to Business
ESADE BUSINESS SCHOOL, AV.DA ESPLUGUES 92-96, BARCELONA
The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) and its participating centers are pleased to announce the organization of this 3-day workshop on entrepreneurship in research, in collaboration with ESADE Business School.
Registration deadline: Monday, 4 April 2016
3-5 OCT
 
Epithelial transitions and cell migration; Learning from development to tackle disease
INSTITUT D'ESTUDIS CATALANS, C. DEL CARME, 47, BARCELONA
Barcelona BioMed Conference. Chairs: Jordi Casanova, IRB Barcelona/IBMB-CSIC & Jean Paul Thiery, National University of Singapore (Singapore, Singapore).
Registration deadline: Sunday, 5 June 2016.
 
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Authors: 
LUCA TANCREDI BARONE