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Joan Font-Burgada, winner of the 2018 IRB Barcelona Alumni of Excellence Award



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The jury highlights the relevance of his findings for the cancer research field.

Font-Burgada has been Assistant Professor in the Cancer Biology Program at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia since 2017.

IRB Barcelona has named Joan Font-Burgada (Caldes de Montbui, Barcelona, 1977) winner of the 2018 IRB Barcelona Alumni of Excellence Award “for his important contributions to understand the development of cancer, in particular, why cancers evolve with mutations that are poorly immunogenic, and also for the identification of special hepatic reparative cells with low propensity to produce cancer,” states the report by the jury —a body formed by senior IRB Barcelona researchers with expertise across several fields of research. These findings are considered to be of great scientific and medical significance.

Joan Font-Burgada studied for his PhD in the Cell and Developmental Biology Program of IRB Barcelona between 2006 and 2010, under the supervision of Dr. Ferran Azorín. In 2010, he moved to the US to undertake a 6-year postdoctoral training period at the University of California, San Diego (Department of Pharmacology), in Dr. Michael Karin's group. As a postdoctoral fellow, he identified a new subpopulation of hepatocytes —hybrid hepatocytes— that play a pivotal role in the repair of liver damage. Using mouse models that replicate the complexity of human hepatocellular carcinoma genetics, he is working on unravelling the mechanisms of regeneration and cancer development in the liver. In 2017, he took up the position of Assistant Professor at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, heading his own laboratory, which focuses on how tissue and organ degeneration, regeneration defects, and decline in regenerative capacity affect the initiation of cancer.

Font-Burgada previously received a prestigious National Cancer Institute Pathway to Independence Award ─a grant that helps highly accomplished postdoctoral researchers complete their training and transition to a faculty position. He has also been awarded a Hertzberg-Schechter Prize for Stem Cell Research.

This is the third year of the Alumni Award—a prize given in recognition of outstanding contributions to science and the scientific community by young researchers who completed a significant part of their training and careers at IRB Barcelona. Supported by Eppendor​f, the prize consists of a commemorative certificate, an award of 2,000 €, and an expenses-paid trip to IRB Barcelona in 2018 to give a talk in the Barcelona Biomed Seminar Series.

David Vilchez, Group Leader at the CECAD-Cluster of Excellence in Cologne (Germany), received the award in 2016, and Marc Liesa, Assistant Professor in-residence in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) David Geffen School of Medicine, was the winner in 2017.


With the support of Eppendorf.


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).