INPhINIT programme now open for applications

inphinit_newspicThis week a new PhD programme at IBEC funded by the Obra Social “La Caixa”, INPhINIT, opens for applications.

INPhINIT aims to attract international early-stage researchers to the top Spanish research centres in the areas of the life and health sciences, physics, technology, engineering and maths.

In each call, INPhINIT recruits 57 candidates of any nationality, who enjoy a three-year employment contract at the participating research centre of their choice, all of which have been designated by the Spanish ministries as Severo Ochoa, Maria de Maeztu or Carlos III Centres or Units of Excellence.

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New advanced therapies initiative in Catalonia

advancecatLast week saw the launch of the ADVANCECAT project, led by the University of Barcelona.

Part of the RIS3CAT community, ADVANCECAT aims to accelerate the development of advanced therapies – medicines based on cell therapy, gene therapy and tissue engineering – in Catalonia from basic research to clinical or industrial transfer.

Formed by 18 organizations in the field of health including two universities, twelve biomedical research institutes – including IBEC – and four companies and private foundations, ADVANCECAT, which is integrated in the NextHealth community and coordinated by Biocat, will bring together public and private sectors for better management of resources in order to get the most out of the Catalan health system.

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IBEC named as Centre of Excellence for health in new EC report

reportecIBEC has been designated one of just 28 European Centres of Excellence in a new report by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research & Innovation.

In the report, IBEC appears alongside 27 other CoEs in Europe in nine H2020 areas: Nanotechnology, Photonics, Advanced Manufacturing, ICT/Cyber Security, Health, Food/Agriculture/Forestry, Energy, Transport, and Climate/Resources. IBEC, which appears under Health, is the only institute in Spain to appear in the table.

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IBEC’s first EMBO Young Investigator

Pere RocaIBEC junior group leader and UB assistant professor Pere Roca-Cusachs has been accepted into the prestigious EMBO Young Investigator Programme.

EMBO, the European Molecular Biology Organization, chooses some of the best young group leaders in Europe through a highly competitive annual selection. Pere presented his research plan for the next five years to an international panel in Heidelberg at the beginning of October.

“I’m really delighted to have been accepted,” says Pere, who is the first ever IBEC researcher to be selected for the programme, and the only one from Spain this year.

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IBEC researcher wins international electrochemistry prize

isma_smSenior researcher Ismael Diez has won an award from the International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE).

The Nanoprobes and Nanoswitches group member is this year’s recipient of the Jaroslav Heyrovsky Prize for Molecular Electrochemistry, which is named after the Czech chemist, inventor and 1959 Nobel Prize winner.

“I’m really happy to have my work recognised by this award, because although I’ve won prizes from the ISE before, this one is for my independent contributions as a senior scientist,” says Ismael, who’s also an assistant professor at the University of Barcelona.

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International prize for Pere as an emerging leader in science

gibcoIBEC junior group leader and UB assistant professor Pere Roca-Cusachs is one of ten finalists selected for the American Society for Cell Biology’s Gibco Emerging Leader Prize.

Supported by Thermo Fisher, the international prize recognises emerging leaders in science who are non-tenured faculty holding independent positions in the early phase of their career. Pere has been chosen as a finalist for his research uncovering the biophysical molecular mechanism by which cells sense tissue rigidity and transduce it into downstream signaling.

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ERC funding for new diabetes approach at IBEC

javierramon2_tiIBEC’s Dr. Javier Ramón is one of just six researchers in Catalonia to have been awarded a 2016 Starting Grant by the European Research Council (ERC).

The senior researcher in the Biomimetic Systems for Cell Engineering group won funding for his project ‘Diabetes Approach by Multi-Organ-on-a-Chip’ (DAMOC) from Europe’s most prestigious funding body.

With the support, which will last for up to five years, Javier will start a new line to design a innovative new tool to test drugs for diabetes. As well as improving drug testing approaches, the multi-organ-on-a-chip device will provide new therapies to prevent the loss of beta cell mass and defects in the glucose uptake in skeletal muscle associated with type 2 diabetes.

“This project will give me the opportunity to have a multidisciplinary group of researchers working together from the beginning in a synchronized way, the most rewarding experience that a researcher can have,” he says.

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Strengthening links with Singapore

singaporesmThis week IBEC director Josep Samitier, group leaders Elisabeth Engel, Xavier Trepat and Pere Roca-Cusachs, and Ester Sánchez, representing the Strategic Initiatives Unit, are in Singapore to take part in the first IBEC-MBI Joint Symposium, which took place on 26th September.

The event, hosted by the Mechanobiology Institute (MBI), the National University of Singapore’s dedicated centre focused on exploring this emerging field at the interface of cell biology, physics, engineering and computational biology, aimed to foster collaboration between the two institutions.

The programme included sessions on specific fields of research shared by the two centers, namely cell-matrix interactions, regenerative medicine, matrix to nucleus transduction, collective cell migration, and featured speakers from both sides.

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New strategies to combat malaria: heparin and nanomedicine

dr-xavier-fernandez-busquets-2The Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the biotech firm Bioiberica have signed a partnership agreement to study the development of new compounds derived from heparin to combat malaria.

The partnership, which was officially announced this morning at the BioSpain meeting in Bilbao, is based on the research undertaken by Dr Xavier Fernández-Busquets, head of IBEC and ISGlobal’s joint Nanomalaria unit, engaged in developing specific antimalaria therapies, and the R&D project of Bioiberica, world leader in heparin production, to seek new applications of this molecule.

Every year malaria infects 200 million people worldwide and causes half a million deaths. For several decades it has been known that when the malaria parasite enters the bloodstream, it invades the liver cells to produce thousands of merozoites – a stage in the life cycle of the parasite – that enter into the circulation and infect red blood cells, managing to evade the immune system.

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IBEC’s participation at B·Debate

Xavier Rubies, head of IBEC’s Technology Transfer unit, took part in last week’s B · Debate conference on “Fighting Blindness. Future Opportunities and Challenges for Visual Restoration”, organized by the Barcelona Macula Foundation in collaboration with the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and LEITAT.

IBEC's participation at B·Debate

Xavier took part in the “From Bench to Bedside” round table, where he explained the process of bringing research results to market. The other speakers agreed with his position that in order to achieve effective results, it’s necessary to start by looking at demand, and then to lead the transfer of projects according to the needs of the market.

This B · Debate conference, an initiative of Biocat and Obra Social “la Caixa”, aimed to explore the potential of new therapeutic approaches for retinal dystrophies, combining nanotechnology, regenerative medicine, stem cells, gene therapy, genomics, bioengineering, photonics and optogenetics.

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