Members of the Organising Committee for the VI International Symposium SRUK/CERU
Nerea Alonso Lopez (Chair)
I graduated in Biochemistry from the University of Salamanca, Spain in 2003 and then received my PhD in Cancer Biology and Clinical Studies at the same university. My PhD research focused on the molecular analysis of patients with Gorlin syndrome, a rare disease involving developmental alterations and basal cell carcinomas. In 2008, I moved to Edinburgh, UK, to join the Rheumatology and Bone Disease Unit as a postdoctoral research fellow, working on the characterisation of a model for Paget’s disease of bone. Besides, I have been active part of an international consortium to study osteoporosis (GEFOS), and lead a collaborative effort to identify genetic variants predisposing to clinical vertebral fractures in postmenopausal females.
I am also interested in pharmacogenomics applied to the treatment of osteoporosis, and I have recently been awarded with a grant from the Scottish Chief Scientific Office to perform genetic profiling to predict the response to treatment in patients with severe osteoporosis. Since 2016, my role as postdoctoral research fellow is combined with laboratory manager of the Rheumatology and Bone Disease Unit at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Edinburgh. I am a member of the European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS), the European Human Genetics Society and the British Bone Research Society. In 2013, I was awarded the ECTS New Investigator Award, as well as other prizes at international conferences. In 2016, I was invited as a keynote speaker for the 12th European Gaucher’s Disease Conference held in Zaragoza, Spain. More recently, I was elected as a member of the ECTS Academy, which represents the most talented postdoc researches in the musculoskeletal field in Europe.
Marta Moris Sanz
I hold a degree in Biology from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. After a Master´s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the same University, I joined in 2009 Fernando J. Díaz-Benjumea’s lab at the Molecular Biology Center Severo Ochoa in Madrid. There I studied the development of the central nervous system of Drosophila melanogaster. In 2014, I completed my PhD in Developmental Biology, awarded with the extraordinary prize. In October 2015 I joined the Dr. James Briscoe´s lab at the Francis Crick Institute in London where I aimed to determine the dynamics of Shh signalling and the gene regulatory mechanism that control mesoderm patterning. Since March 2008 I am a technical consultant of the Spanish Agency of Medicine and Sanitary Products.
During my 10 years of experience in basic research, I have worked in different countries (Spain, France, Germany and UK). I have become an expert in a wide range of cutting edge molecular biology techniques as well as in different model systems such as Stem Cells, Drosophila melanogaster and Mice. In parallel, I have become strongly committed to science outreach.
Ana Isabel Rodríguez Rodríguez
I studied Biotechnology at the University Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla. As an undergraduate student, I joined the Genetics department at the Andalusian Centre for Developmental Biology, and I did an internship at the King’s College London. Both projects were focused on the characterization of proteins involved in the control of nuclear shape and dynamics two parameters that are related to aging and cancer, among many other diseases. I also worked in a bioinformatics start-up, HEBRA, focused on developing tools for researchers. Now I am in the second year of my Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh, where I am studying the mechanisms of stress response that regulate cell polarity changes in fission yeast.
Desirée Villahermosa Caballero
I graduated as Biologist (speciality Biomedicine) and as Biochemist from the Universitat de Barcelona in 2005. In my early stages I worked in laboratories at universities in three different countries as well as in industry. During my PhD in Bacterial Biotechnology, I optimized the process of sulphide removal in waste water treatment plants performed by endogenous bacteria and I was awarded a PhD Summa Cum Laude in 2015. As a postdoc, I studied drug sensitivity in mismatch repair proteins. Errors in DNA replication lead to accumulation of mutations and potentially cancer, Mismatch Repair is the main DNA Repair pathway during DNA replication and for the maintenance of microsatellite stability.
My results also allowed me to extend my studies to the field of translation efficiency and DNA damage response. I am currently a Research Fellow at the Genome Damage and Stability Centre in University of Sussex, and I am interested in understanding the Smc5/6 complex, which has roles in DNA replication, homologous recombination and other yet unknown functions and is essential for the maintenance of genomic integrity.
Miguel Cacho Soblechero
I graduated in Electronic Engineering at University Carlos III of Madrid (Spain). After undertaking a MSc in Analogue and Digital IC Design at Imperial College London, I worked in Industry for 3 years in several roles on Consultancy and Telecommunication. In 2017 I started my PhD at Imperial College London, as part of the Centre of Bio-Inspired Technology, where I focus on the development of nano-scale chemical sensors capable of measuring different properties of a solution using standard MOSFET devices. This technology has the potential to improve early diagnosis of a wide range of diseases – from Breast Cancer to Zika. I became member of SURK in summer 2017, becoming a member of Engineering Target Group shortly after, where we improve the visibility of Engineering inside SRUK.
Margarita Segovia Roldán
I graduated in Biology at the University of Seville (Spain). After getting my PhD at the Department of Medical Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Seville for studying the mechanisms of Neurosecretion through Electrophysiological and Electrochemical techniques, I joined the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University College London (UCL). There, as a Research Associate, I studied the mechanism underlying synaptic plasticity in Alzheimer´s disease. Few years later, I still develop my research on neurodegenerative diseases, studying, in this case, the mechanisms underlying Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). I use Electrophysiology and Stem cells as the main tools to understand the crosstalk between astrocytes and motor neurons affected by mutations related with devastated disease. This work is being developed at the Sheffield Institute Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) at the University of Sheffield, a city where I also collaborate as a Press Officer and Vice-director at the SRUK Yorkshire constituency.
Iria Poncela Blanco
After I studied MChem Chemistry at University of La Laguna (Spain), I taught Science for some years to high school and university students. However, I understood this was stopping me from growing professionally and personally.Therefore, after attending an introductory speech about oil and gas industry I realised this was my cup of tea. I had found my passion, so I came to Scotland and graduated in MSc Petroleum Engineer at Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh). Nowadays, I am involved in the crusade of getting a job. As a driven and proactive person, I take every chance I have of achieving new skills by means of doing courses, attending meetings & conferences as well as belonging to several associations where I network and collaborate such as Energy Institute, Canary Islands Official Association of Chemists and Chemical Engineers, Society of Petroleum Engineers, Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (Oil and Gas Division) and Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK).
Jesús García Ovejero
I obtained my degree in Physics from the University Complutense of Madrid and a master in Nanotechnology from University Autonomous of Madrid. In 2014 I was award with a FPI fellowship of MINECO to develop a PhD in the Institute of Applied Magnetism. My thesis versed on the synthesis of hybrid magneto-plasmonic nanoparticles for detection (photoacoustic imaging) and treatment (hyperthermia) of tumour cells. Recently, I have been contracted as Research Associate by the King’s College London. My current research is focused on the regulation of actine-miosine molecular motors in cardiac muscle fibers using Synchrotron radiation.
Along my scientific career I have been investigating in international institutions such as Washington University, Manchester Institute of Biotechnology or King Abdulah University (Saudí Arabia), among others.
Ignacio Jiménez Sánchez
In 2014 I graduated in Biology from the Universidad de Alcalá (Spain). In my last year as an undergraduate, I participated in a research project in the University of Tuebingen (Germany) where I contributed to dissect the role of specific genes in the development of photosynthetic bacteria.
One year later I enrolled in a masters in Biotechnology from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (Spain). As a masters student I did an joint internship between the Centre for Molecular Biology (CBM-CSIC) in Madrid and DIOMUNE S.L., a biotechnological company, where I tested the effects of an immunological therapy developed by DIOMUNE with the aim of reversing the characteristic embryological defects observed in patients with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a very rare disease. In 2016, I started my PhD in Dr. Jeyaprakash Arulanandam’s lab at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology in the University of Edinburgh. In the lab, we aim to dissect the mechanisms that regulate mitosis from a biochemical and structural point of view.
My interest in the exchange of knowledge between academia and non-scientific audiences motivated me to join the SRUK in early 2017.
Alba Abad (Science Zone coordinator)
I hold a degree in Biology from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and in 2008 I got my PhD in Neuroscience at the Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques de Barcelona. During my PhD I studied the role of Neuronal Pentraxin 1, a protein known to be involved in apoptotic cell death, in Alzheimer’s disease. In 2011 I moved to Edinburgh to do my Post Doc and I am currently working at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology in a Structural Biology lab interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of accurate cell division by structurally and biochemically characterizing key regulators of mitosis. I became a member of SRUK and the SRUK-Scotland working group in April 2015 and joined the Press Department at the end of 2015.
I have always been interested in Science Communication so I am also a member of the Press Gang of the School of Biological Sciences (University of Edinburgh), which aims to bridge the gap between the researchers in the School, the media and the general public. Since 2017, together with Natalia Torrea I am responsible of the development of outreach activities in the Scotland Constituency of SRUK.
I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Navarre in Pamplona (Spain) in 2010. After doing an Erasmus studentship at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Belgium, I went back to the Public University of Navarre in Pamplona to do a Master’s degree in Health Science Research. I carried out the project of my master’s degree at the Biomedical Research Centre Navarrabiomed where I ended up working and collaborating in different cancer related projects. Once I finished my studies, I was awarded an International Mobility Grant from the Government of Navarre to learn some molecular biology techniques at the Ontario Cancer Institute, University of Toronto. In 2014 I started my Darwin Trust-funded PhD at the Wellcome Trust Centre in Edinburgh.
I am currently finishing my PhD project which is focused on the regulation of DNA methylation establishment and epigenetic gene silencing in mammalian cells by the chromatin remodeler LSH. During this time I have been involved in the development and delivery of a broad range of public engagement activities at science festivals, school visits, and special events at the Royal Botanic Garden and Edinburgh Zoo. I joined SRUK in 2015 and became a member of the work group in October 2016 helping in the organization of general events and specifically carrying out outreach activities.
I obtained my degree in Biology at the University of Salamanca and my MSc in Human Assisted Reproduction at the Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad. Thanks to a number of European grants, I trained my skills in IVF clinics in Spain and Portugal. At the same time I became an expert in science communication by the Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura, which earned me positions at several companies involved in science communication, including CSIC. My knowledge in embryonic stem cells, genetic preimplantational diagnostic and outreach allowed me to obtain a PhD studentship at the University of Southampton in 2013. Here I studied whether female mammals contain germline stem cells in their ovaries, and the possibility that they give rise to competent eggs that can be used in IVF.
At the moment I work as a departmental technician at the Royal Veterinary College in London. In addition to supporting embryo-related research across many groups, I´m also a lab manager and health and safety officer.
Natalia Mallo Seijas
After graduate in Biology at the University of A Coruña (Spain) I started a MSc in Biotechnology Engineering at the university of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). In 2015 I obtained my PhD in that same field where I was funded by a FPI Fellowship of the Spanish government. In 2016 I moved to UK to start a Postodoc in the Wellcome Center for Molecular Parasitology at the University of Glasgow (Scotland). My current research focuses on understanding the functioning of the mitochondria in the human and animal pathogen Toxoplasma gondii with the aim of identifying parasite-specific targets to develop therapeutics against Apicomplexa diseases, like malaria or toxoplasmosis. During all those years I had the chance of work in different private and public laboratories and I was recently awarded with a prize for transfer technology project from the Galician Royal Academy of Science. I have always been interested in science dissemination and I participated in public engagement and activities related with science since I was at school like “The Science in the Street Day”, organised by the scientific museums of A Coruña.
Later on I had the chance to work there as Museum guide with a fellowship. During my Biology studies I actively took part as well in a radio program related with science at the university radio and my involvement in public engagement activities has been maintained until the present. I joined SRUK in 2016 and now I belong to SRUK-Scotland working group. I am also a member of the European Biochemistry Society and the non-governmental organization Society of Galician Natural History.
I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh in Jamie Davie’s lab and part of the UK centre for mammalian synthetic biology since July 2015. My research activities have been focused on controlling transgene expression in mammalian cell trough different mechanisms and on recreating patterns by engineering multicellular organization. Before my current position, I did a PhD in cell biology and biomedicine at the University of the Basque Country developing in vitro models of physiological barriers.
Miguel García Sancho
After his PhD at Imperial College London, Miguel worked at Manchester University, Centre for the History of Science, and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Department of Science, Technology and Society. His research interests are in the history of contemporary biomedicine, with special emphasis on the transition between molecular biology and new forms of knowledge production at the fall of the 20th century: biotechnology, bioinformatics and genomics. He is now a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies of the University of Edinburgh and is leading a project entitled Medical Translation in the History of Modern Genomics, with funding from the European Research Council.
His research focuses on the history of concerted DNA mapping and sequencing initiatives, with special attention to the human and other large-scale genome projects which proliferated in the 1980s and 90s. He has also investigated the emergence of agricultural biotechnology and the cloning of Dolly the sheep. His book Biology, Computing and the History of Molecular Sequencing: From Proteins to DNA was published by Palgrave-Macmillan (2012, paperback edition in 2015). He previously worked as a journalist and is interested in science communication and public engagement.
Beatriz Larraz Prieto
Sandra Álvarez Carretero
In 2015, I obtained my BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Universidad Rovira I Virgili, Spain. During this 4-year BSc, most of the practicals were wet lab-related and usually did not finish as everyone expected, which led me to frustration. It was not until I took the bioinformatics course that I realised how much I enjoyed coding. In contrast to my wet lab practicals, if I told my PC to do “something” with my biological data, I ended have having “this something” done. From then onwards, I was sure that my next steps in science had to integrate two fields: biology and informatics. Thanks to the Erasmus+ programme, I could work on a bioinformatics project at the University of Manchester, which was focused on troubleshooting and implementing a pipeline to carry out virtual screenings.
After finishing my BSc, I started my MSc in Bioinformatics at Högskolan I Skövde, Sweden, and carried out my dissertation at Karolinska Institutet. There, I developed BACTpipe, a pipeline to characterise bacterial isolates based on whole-genome sequencing data, as well as other software pipelines to analyse transcriptomic and proteomic data. Once I finished my MSc, I decided to explore other fields in computer science such as Bayesian statistics and modelling where I could learn more about the maths used in this field. Currently, I am carrying out my PhD at dos Reis Lab research group (Queen Mary University of London), where I am working on the application of Bayesian MCMC statistical methods to study species divergences through time. Since 2017, I am part of the working group in the London constituency of SRUK and I joined the Press group in May 2018.