In Vivo - January 2018

INVIVO - Newsletter of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine - IRB Barcelona
Can't see this properly? Click here JANUARY 2018

Touched by generosity
IRB Barcelona has received a bequest amounting to 1.5M € made by a couple from Barcelona. This donation is a milestone for the centre as it reflects the trust that members of society have in the work we do in our labs and appreciation of the value of our research. Jaume Solé, the lawyer of the family and executor of the will said of the couple, who wished to remain anonymous, “Donating their estate to research made them very happy and IRB Barcelona made a big impression on them.” “We are proud of this achievement and grateful for the trust placed in us. We look forward to putting the donation to the best use possible," says director Joan J. Guinovart.

Nature Cell Biology
MSK1, keeping metastasis at bay
A study published by Roger Gomis’ group has shown that MSK1 prevents dormant metastatic cells from actually developing metastasis in breast cancers that progress to the bone. This study, which has received widespread coverage by the press, may help identify patients who are most susceptible to metastasis (and who would benefit from more frequent controls) and, in the long term, facilitate the development of drugs that mimic MSK1 and thus prevent cancer from spreading.
nature genetics
Better DNA repair in protein coding regions
Bioinformaticians in the Biomedical Genomics lab, headed by Núria López-Bigas, have discovered that protein coding regions in the genome (or exons) undergo fewer mutations than introns (non-coding regions). This phenomenon may be explained by the fact that a specific histone mark (H3K36me3) enriched in exons helps recruit the DNA repair machinery, thus contributing to ensuring that exons are more faithfully replicated. These findings, obtained in colorectal and pediatric brain tumors, –although the same was observed across other cancer types– have important implications for the study of genes associated with the emergence of cancer and for our understanding of the mechanisms of biological evolution.


nature cell biology
EXD2 is mitochondrial, not nuclear, and is involved in protein production
Researchers led by Travis Stracker have challenged the established belief that EXD2 is a nuclear protein and shown that it is in fact located in the mitochondria. In order to keep the mitoribosome “clean” until it is mature, EXD2 targets messenger RNA thus facilitating the production of proteins. These findings contribute to our understanding of various diseases related to energy production and metabolism, such as cancer and diabetes.
Tiny target, big promises
For prostate cancer to grow and develop, the androgen receptor must be highly active. A study conducted by Xavier Salvatella, has found a 20-amino acid motif in the androgen receptor that is essential for the protein TFIIF to bind and hyper-activate it. The removal of this small region causes the androgen receptor to lose activity, thus making it a promising target for prostate cancer treatment. Prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths

Understanding the adaptability of Smads
The transforming growth factor (TGF-beta) regulates critical biological processes during embryo development, tissue homeostasis, regeneration, and immune regulation. The main TGF-beta signal transduction mechanism involves Smad transcription factors, and mutations in the components of this pathway are responsible for various inherited and somatic diseases. Maria Macias' lab have identified a new 5bp-GC rich consensus binding sequence for TGF-beta and bone morphogenetic protein-activated Smad proteins such as Smad4. The new knowledge provides a basis for understanding the functional adaptability of Smads in many organisms and cellular contexts.
Never too early for tech transfer
Tech transfer is an attitude, a main feature that should be present at all stages of a research project, from the initial idea to the result, passing through the writing of the proposal, the design of the experiments and the development of the project. With this in mind, and supported by “la Caixa” Foundation, IRB Barcelona launched the Young BiomedTec initiative, an internal call directed at "la Caixa" PhD fellows that seeks to identify and support projects with innovation potential over a wide range of technological disciplines. The five projects awarded have received 13,000€ to perform proof of concept and validation studies over a period of six months.
Post-event video
Get a taste of the good vibes at the ENABLE symposium in this post-event video! The 1st European PhD and Postdoc symposium “Breaking Down Complexity: Innovative Models and Techniques in Biomedicine” took place in Barcelona in November. Hosted by IRB Barcelona, the symposium was accompanied by a series of outreach activities to bring science closer to society and a Career Day, aimed at providing young researchers with the opportunity to discuss career perspectives beyond the bench with professionals from a range of sectors.
A MuG of genomics
Multiscale Complex Genomics (MuG), a European project headed by Modesto Orozco, held back-to-back workshops on the “Multi-scale study of 3D chromatin structure” in November and December. The first workshop took place in the context of the Barcelona Biomed Conference “Multidimensional Genomics: The 3D/4D organization of chromatin”, hosted in November by IRB Barcelona and supported by the BBVA Foundation. This conference gathered more than 150 experts in the field. The second workshop was held a month later at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.
See the video to learn more about what MuG has to offer!
Morphogenetic engineering on the go
From 27 to 29 November, EMBL and IRB Barcelona brought together international experts in the fields of developmental biology and tissue engineering to share knowledge and discuss morphogenetic engineering. James Sharpe (Head of EMBL Barcelona) and Marco Milan (Group Leader of IRB Barcelona’s Development and Growth Control Laboratory) talk about the importance of this Barcelona Biomed Conference and the latest breakthroughs in the field.
video series - meet our scientists
Meet the talent, feel the science
Gestures, tone of voice, aspirations and a personal belonging reflect the individuals that take the stage in each of the videos of IRB Barcelona’s “Meet Our Scientists” series. Launched two years ago, this collection of videos puts our cutting-edge research in biomedicine in the spotlight through short interviews with the very scientists working in our labs and core facilities. In 2018, we will add 10 videos to the 10 already available in this series, which have been seen almost 20,000 times on our YouTube channel. The Meet Our Scientists series is supported by the Spanish Government’s Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT). Watch this introductory clip!
IRB Barcelona scientists hit the dance floor again
Last July, a group of IRB Barcelona researchers were invited to take part in a special TV programme focused on dance and produced by the local Catalan channel TV3. The goal of the exercise was to explore dance as a form of ‘escape’, to break from the daily structured, protocolised and analytical work of science. Check out what happened in the episode "Ballar i evadir-se".
science day
Escola Vinya del Sastret, IRB Barcelona's partner in fun
Fostering scientific vocation at an early age is important to ensure the next generation of promising researchers. For 'Science Day', IRB Barcelona got the chance to experience science through the eyes of young students from the Vinya del Sastret school. Their creative minds and the efforts they've made to raise funds for research are most inspiring! Watch the local TV channel’s report on the day.
Communicating with greater affect – Creating a deeper emotional connection with people
On 11 December, the IRB Barcelona community had the chance to attend a special Barcelona BioMed seminar given by Richard Gillingwater, an Independent Brand Consultant, Fundraiser and Creativity Coach. The seminar was aimed at offering tools to address the challenges in communicating science, engaging with audiences and making research relevant, interesting and exciting for them. To learn more about the ideas shared at the seminar, don't miss this In depth article, written by Richard specially for IRB Barcelona.
Book presentation
The bright side on…. “The dark side of innovation”
There are many ways to support research. Antonio Fumero and César Ullastres consider IRB Barcelona’s science to be vital and have decided to donate the rights to their book “El lado oscuro de la innovación” to fund our research.
Severo Ochoa Prize
for Biomedical Research
Manuel Serrano
Manuel Serrano has received the Ferrer Research Foundation’s prestigious Severo Ochoa Prize for Biomedical Research for his work on tissue damage and senescence and the role of these processes in cell reprogramming in vivo. The Foundation recognises Manuel’s standing as one of the leading voices in the understanding of aging from various perspectives, including cancer, metabolism and regeneration. During the award ceremony, which will be held in May in Madrid, Manuel will receive 40,000€ and a commemorative medal.
Imagen Positiva
Celia Santos Tapia
Celia Santos Tapia, a PhD student in the Development and Growth Control lab, has won the “Imagen Positiva” Award, given by the Instituto de la Juventud Castilla y León, for her work on cancer at IRB Barcelona and her project “Noies al Lab” (Girls to the Lab), which aims to promote scientific vocation among girls. Celia is actively involved in outreach activities for young audiences and often runs scientific workshops aimed at girls and boys between the ages of eight and twelve. Congratulations Celia!
A monthly newsletter for the BIST community
The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) stepped into 2018 with the inaugural issue of BIST News Flash, a monthly newsletter that will provide updates about important happenings in the BIST Community. IRB Barcelona members will find the BIST News Flash in this permanent section of the in vivo newsletter. In this first issue you can read about:
  • BIST awards given to three multidisciplinary projects in the inaugural Ignite Program’s second phase
  • BIST celebrating its Working Groups at a December meet-up
  • Upcoming events
  • Hot off the Press - New retinal prosthesis to address visual degeneration
Leonardo Darre
Leonardo is from Uruguay, where he studied Biochemistry at the Universidad de la República and did his PhD at the Institut Pasteur de Montevideo (IPMon). After his first postdoc position at King’s College London in the UK, in 2015 he joined Modesto Orozco's lab. After several years in Europe, he is now excited about returning home, where he is going to focus on the structural modelling of small non-coding RNAs at the IPMon under a postdoctoral fellowship jointly funded by the latter and the Uruguayan National Agency for Research and Innovation.
new at irb barcelona
Marta Consuegra
After receiving a PhD from the University of Barcelona, Marta started a postdoc at IDIBAPS, where she developed novel immunomodulatory strategies in experimental models of autoimmunity, infection and cancer. In January, she joined the Genome Data Science group, led by Fran Supek, as a postdoctoral fellow. She will be working on the mechanisms underlying mutational processes, their effects on carcinogenesis and the therapeutic opportunities they present.
12 - 14 MARCH
Mechanisms of Metastasis - BARCELONA BIOMED CONFERENCE
Institut d'Estudis Catalans, carrer del Carme 47, Barcelona
Chairs: Joan Massagué (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), Salvador Aznar Benitah (IRB Barcelona/ICREA) and Roger Gomis (IRB Barcelona/ICREA)
11 - 13 JUNE
Centrosomes, cilia and cell cycle in development and disease
Speaker: Renata Basto (Institut Marie Curie), Jens Lüders (IRB Barcelona) and Travis Stracker (IRB Barcelona)
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