New IBEC group creates ‘fitness heatmaps’ of gene mutations

The start of the autumn semester finds a new face in IBEC’s research community, with Dr. Benedetta Bolognesi joining the institute as junior group leader.

Benedetta has come from Barcelona’s Centre for Genomic Regulation, where she was a postdoc in Ben Lehner’s and Gian Gaetano Tartaglia’s groups. At IBEC she will launch and lead the Protein Phase Transitions in Health and Disease group.

During her postdoc, Benedetta focused on why certain genes are toxic when over-expressed. She found that, in some cases, they cause toxicity because the proteins they code for end up forming a different liquid phase in the cytoplasm.

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A visitor from the Ministry

Today IBEC welcomed the new Director General of Research, Development, and Innovation of the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (MINECO) to meet some of the group leaders and hear about their research.

Dr. Teresa Riesgo Alcaide met IBEC’s directors and was taken on a tour of the laboratories of Samuel Sánchez, Josep Samitier, Xavier Trepat and Elena Martínez, as well as viewing IBEC’s 3D bioprinting facilities.

Dr. Riesgo was in town for the EIT Health Partner Assembly at Caixa Forum, an important event on the calendar for the network.

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Biofilm project is sixth Caixaimpulse success for IBEC

IBEC is celebrating its sixth Caixaimpulse success, with Eduard Torrents’ project ‘BiofilmChip: personalized treatment for biofilm infections’ winning support in the programme’s fourth round.

Working in collaboration with Josep Samitier’s Nanobioengineering group, BiofilmChip will develop an easy-to-use device that allows biofilm-forming bacteria to be grown in vitro, enabling clinicians to evaluate the efficency of various antibiotics and determine the best individualized treatment for biofilm-infected patients. 20 projects from all over Spain and Portugal were awarded in this fourth round, selected from a total of 85 submissions.

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11th Barcelona Cognition Brain and Technology summer school taking place at IBEC’s newest location

More than thirty students from all over the world have arrived at the UPC Campus Diagonal-Besòs for the 11th Barcelona Cognition Brain and Technology summer school (BCBT2018), an annual event co-organised by IBEC’s SPECS group.

As in previous years, the summer school has invited top speakers in the fields of brain research, cognitive science, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence, including Tony Prescott from the University of Sheffield, who’s co-organiser of the event alongside SPECS group leader Paul Verschure and senior researcher Anna Mura. This year, the event is also supported by the Human Brain Project.

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Horizon Europe revealed – but budget could be bigger

The European Commission has published its proposal for the next framework programme in research and innovation, Horizon Europe.

Succeeding Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe will run from 2021 to 2027 and aims to strengthen science and technology in the EU to help tackle the major global challenges of our time. The framework programme is based on the conviction that Europe’s success increasingly depends on its ability to transform excellent scientific results into innovation that will have a beneficial impact on the economy and quality of life, and create new markets with more skilled jobs.

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IBEC an ‘outstanding’ example of H2020 success

IBEC is listed as an ‘outstanding’ Spanish research centre for Horizon 2020 funding in a recent report published by the Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial (CDTI).

The institute, which coordinates eight H2020 projects and is a partner in two more, appears in the table ‘20 asociaciones de investigación más destacadas por retorno en H2020’ (pictured) in the CDTI’s ‘Participación española en Horizonte 2020: Resultados provisionales (2014-2017)’. This report presents the facts and figures behind the participation of Spanish universities, research centres, companies and other organisations in the EU’s current framework programme, which took over from FP7 in 2014.

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ESOF provides a showcase for COMIET project

This week IBEC group leader Elena Martinez is in Toulouse for the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF), the largest interdisciplinary science meeting in Europe, where she is taking part as a speaker.

Elena, who heads IBEC’s Biomimetic systems for cell engineering group, was invited to take part in the ‘Growing mini-organs on a petri dish: myth or reality’ session by the ERC, which funds her COMIET project with a Consolidator grant. COMIET aims to engineer epithelial tissue models that mimic the physiological characteristics found in the human intestine. Around 40 of the ERC’s grantees have been invited to take part in the funding body’s sessions at ESOF this year.

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BBVA funds IBEC research into more efficient cancer drug delivery systems

An IBEC project has won funding from the BBVA Foundation under its ‘Ayudas a Equipos de Investigación en Biomedicina’ funding programme.

ICREA research professor Samuel Sánchez’s Smart Nano-Bio-Devices group will receive the support for three years to develop their project ‘MEDIROBOTS: Precision nanobotomy against tumors’.

The project will develop biocompatible robots driven by enzymes with applications as drug release systems whose progress in vitro and in vivo can be traced using advanced molecular imaging techniques such as super-resolution microscopy.

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Tackling challenges to research excellence

Last month IBEC Director Josep Samitier was one of the panelists in a round table organised by the Cercle de Salut, an association devoted to improving the health system so that it may respond adequately to the challenges posed by society.

In the discussion at the Parc de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona (PRBB) entitled ‘L’excel·lència en la recerca, reptes immediats’, Josep and the other participants – ISGlobal director Antoni Plasencia and IrsiCaixa director Bonaventura Clotet – discussed the current situation of biomedical research in Catalonia. In particular, the hot topic under discussion was the impact that recent regulatory and administrative changes may have on its competitiveness.

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Prize for IBEC in Technology Transfer competition

An IBEC project pitch won third prize in a Technology Transfer Competition at last week’s Onco Emergence Forum.

The project, which is the brainchild of IBEC group leader Pere Roca-Cusachs and proposes the targeting of tumor mechanics to develop new drugs for oncology, specifically with pancreatic cancer in mind, was pitched by IBEC Technology Transfer manager Diana Gonzalez at the meeting on Friday.

Diana, involved in the project from its onset, was one of twelve finalists chosen to present in six-minute pitches to a panel of judges. The project was shortlisted because of its solid focus on an unmet medical, market or patient need, and because it proposed using innovative technology to create a product or service.

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