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Dr. Nuria López-Bigas receives the 2023 Biomedical Research Award from the Lilly Foundation




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Dr. Nuria López-Bigas, ICREA researcher at IRB Barcelona, has been acknowledged in the Preclinical Research category for her novel studies using new advanced bioinformatics and artificial intelligence approaches to identify the process that gives rise to mutations in cancer.

In the 21st edition of the Lilly Foundation Awards for Biomedical Research, the jury this year has acknowledged Dr. Nuria López-Bigas and Dr. María Buti Ferret in the categories of preclinical and clinical biomedical research, respectively. These awards, which have become a benchmark for outstanding careers within the scientific community, recognise researchers who make a significant contribution to the development of biomedicine and health sciences in Spain and maintain a recognised level of scientific activity. These prizes will be awarded in an institutional ceremony on 26 June.

On the occasion of the announcement of the awardees, Dr. José Antonio Sacristán, director of the Lilly Foundation, highlighted that "both researchers, who have excellent scientific careers, are true reflections of the purpose of these awards, namely to acknowledge those people who are role models for their capacity for innovation, dedication and success in basic and clinical research”. Likewise, he pointed out the high scientific caliber of all the candidates (almost 60) who were considered for the award in this year, a number that, in his opinion, "is a reflection of the quality of biomedical scientists, and therefore of the science done in Spain". He went on to say, "We must continue doing everything necessary to promote science of excellence and ensure that it can have an economic and social impact”.

Dr. Nuria López-Bigas, ICREA research professor at IRB Barcelona, has been distinguished with the 2023 Lilly Foundation Award for Preclinical Biomedical Research for her pioneering work using new advanced bioinformatics and artificial intelligence (AI) approaches to identify processes that bring about mutations and for developing methodologies to identify the mutations involved in the development of cancer.

Her contributions are key, both in the context of research into mutation accumulation processes in tumour cells and the development of bioinformatics tools such as BoostDM, an AI tool inspired by evolutionary biology, and the Cancer Genome Interpreter, which allows the identification of cancer-driving mutations and biomarkers of drug response in individual tumours. This latter project will have a direct application in personalised precision medicine for cancer in the hospital setting.



Likewise, the Biomedical Genomics laboratory that she leads studies the effects of chemotherapy on the DNA of the cells of cancer patients and has identified the mutational signatures produced by common chemotherapy treatments. Dr. López-Bigas also directs large international consortiums, such as PROMINENT, a project aimed at understanding the early stages of tumour development and which will lead to new cancer prevention strategies, and CGI-Clinics, which seeks to implement and systemise the interpretation of tumour genomes for personalised cancer medicine.


Dr. María Buti Ferret, senior consultant of the Hepatology Service of the Vall dʼHebron University Hospital, principal investigator of the Viral Hepatitis group of the Vall dʼHebron Research Institute (VHIR) and professor of Medicine at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, has been presented with the 2023 Lilly Foundation Award for Clinical Biomedical Research, in recognition of her contributions to research into these diseases and especially to viral hepatitis.


More information: Lilly Foundation


About IRB Barcelona

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) pursues a society free of disease. To this end, it conducts multidisciplinary research of excellence to cure cancer and other diseases linked to ageing. It establishes technology transfer agreements with the pharmaceutical industry and major hospitals to bring research results closer to society, and organises a range of science outreach activities to engage the public in an open dialogue. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 researchers and more than 30 nationalities. Recognised as a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence since 2011, IRB Barcelona is a CERCA centre and member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).