Nanoprobes and Nanoswitches


Research in the laboratory focuses on developing nanoscale tools to study biological systems. These tools include instrumentation based on proximity probes, such as electrochemical tunnelling microscopy and spectroscopy and single molecule force spectroscopy, that we apply to investigate electron transfer in individual redox proteins, and other biophysical and biochemical interactions.

These studies are relevant to understand lipid membrane dynamics, to the development of biosensors and molecular electronics devices, and have led to the discovery of long-distance electrochemically gated electron transport between partner proteins of the respiratory and photosynthetic chains.

Another set of nanotools that we are developing is based on engineered molecular actuators that can be switched with light, such as azobenzene, which can be chemically attached to biomolecules in order to remotely control their activity (photopharmacology). They include peptide inhibitors of protein-protein interactions, small molecule enzymatic inhibitors, and photoswitchable ligands of a diversity of other proteins.

Among several applications, these compounds have enabled photoactivated chemotherapy, photocontrol of cellular signaling mediated by ion channels and G protein-coupled receptors, photocontrol of cardiac activity and locomotion, sensory restoration, and photocontrol of brain waves.

Based on these tools, we have also developed two-photon pharmacology to manipulate and study the activity of neurons and glia in intact brain tissue with pharmacological selectivity and sub-cellular three-dimensional resolution.



DEEPER · Deep Brain Photonic Tools for Cell-type specific targeting of Neural diseases (2021-2025)European Commission, ICTPau Gorostiza
Human Brain Project Specific Grant Agreement 3 (2020-2023)European Commission, FET FLAGSHIPSPau Gorostiza
DEEP RED · Neuromodulación de las vías inhibitorias mediante fotofarmacología activada por luz roja e infrarroja (2020-2023)MINECO, Retos investigación: Proyectos I+DPau Gorostiza
Drug4Sight · Light-regulated drugs to restore sight (2019-2022)Obra Social La CaixaPau Gorostiza
DECA CECH · Cluster Emergente del Cerebro Humano (2019-2021)RIS3CAT – Tecnologies EmergentsPau Gorostiza
SGR Grups de recerca consolidats (2017-2020)AGAUR / SGRPau Gorostiza
Q-SPET · Quantum-controlled Single Protein Electron Transport (2019-2020)BIST Ignite ProgramPau Gorostiza
Human Brain Project Specific Grant Agreement 2 (2018-2020)European Commission, FET FLAGSHIPSPau Gorostiza
FOCUS Single Molecule Activation and ComputingICTPau Gorostiza
THERALIGHT Therapeutic Applications of Light-Regulated DrugsERC-PoCPau Gorostiza
Single-BioET Single-molecule junction capabilities to map the electron pathways in redox bio-molecular architectures (2012-2016)MARIE CURIE – RGIsmael Díez
Optogenetic pacemaking to rewire neural circuitsLa Marató TV3Pau Gorostiza
OPTOPHARMACOLOGY Aplicaciones terapéuticas de la optofarmacologíaMINECO (CTQ2013-43892-R)Pau Gorostiza
Milk fat globule membrane and periphera proteins: lipid-protein interactions (2016-2017)Fausto SanzINRA
WaveScalES Human Brain Project Specific Grant Agreement 1 (2016-2018)European Commission, FET FLAGSHIPSPau Gorostiza
OPTOFRAX Optopharmacological brain mapping of autism mouse (2015-2017)MARIE CURIE – IFMiquel Bosch
NANOPROSTHETICS Prótesis moleculares para restablecer la visión basadas en fotoconmutadores covalentes dirigidos (2016-2019)MINECO, Retos investigación: Proyectos I+DPau Gorostiza
MODULIGHTOR Moduladores fotoconmutables sintéticos para manipular remotamente proteínas endógenas: fotocontrol in vivo de canales iónicos pentaméricos (2015-2018)MINECO Nacional /Acciones de Programación Conjunta InternacionalPau Gorostiza
nanoET-leukemia Nanoconductance of electron transfer proteins of the respiratory chain. Direct measurement at the single molecular level and therapeutic regulation in cancer stem cells (2015-2018)MINECO, Proyectos RETOS 2015 / CIBERMarina  Giannotti / Anna Lagunas
Inhibición fotoselectiva de interacciones proteína-proteína para el estudio de redes interactómicas y el desarrollo de nuevas terapias (2015-2018)Pau GorostizaFundación Ramon Areces
Fotoconmutadores covalentes para el control remoto de receptores endógenos (2017-2019)Pau GorostizaConvocatoria de Ayudas a la Investigación FUNDALUCE



  • iMic molecular imaging system
  • Electrochemical scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) for molecular imaging
  • Asylum Research Molecular Force Probe
  • Multimode SPM Nanoscope III (SCT-UB)
  • Autolab potentiostat
  • Patch clamp setup with Heka EPC10 amplifier
  • Molecular Imaging Electrochemical STM


  • Prof. Amadeu Llebaria
    Institut de Química Avançada de Catalunya (IQAC-CSIC)
  • Prof. Ernest Giralt
    Dept. de Química Orgànica, Universitat de Barcelona
  • Prof. Miquel Àngel Pericàs
    Institut Català d’Investigació Química (ICIQ), Tarragona
  • Dr. Piotr Bregestovski
    Institut de Neurobiologie de la Mediterraneé (INMED), Marseille
  • Dr. Mireia Oliva
    Dept. de Farmàcia i Tecnologia Farmacèutica, Universitat de Barcelona
  • Dr. Artur Llobet
    Dept. Patología y Terapéutica Experimental, Universitat de Barcelona
  • Dr. Joan Torrent
    Escola Universitària d’Òptica i Optometria de Terrassa, Spain
  • Prof. Dirk Trauner
    Chemistry Dept., UC Berkeley, USA
  • Prof. Carles Solsona
    Pathology and Experimental Therapeutics Dept, UB
  • Prof. Francisco Ciruela
    ICREA / Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
  • Prof. Jesús Giraldo & Dr. Jordi Hernando
    Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
  • Niek van Hulst, Michael Krieg, Pablo Loza
    Institut de Ciències Fotòniques (ICFO)
  • Carme Rovira
    ICREA, Universitat de Barcelona
  • Pedro de la Villa
    Universidad de Alcalá de Henares
  • Eduardo Fernández
    Universitat Miguel Hernández
  • Burkhard König
    Regensburg University
  • Michael Decker
    Regensburg University
  • Elisabet Romero
    Institut Català d’Investigació Química (ICIQ), Tarragona
  • Ismael Díez-Pérez
    King’s College London
  • Andrea Barberis
    Italian Institute of Technology
  • Roberta Croce
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Gertrudis Perea
    Instituto Cajal
  • Irene Díaz-Moreno, Miguel Ángel de la Rosa, Antonio Díaz-Quintana
    Instituto de Investigaciones Químicas, Universidad de Sevilla
  • Joan Torrent
    Escola Universitària d’Òptica i Optometria de Terrassa, Spain
  • Jordi Hernando, Ramon Alibés, Félix Busque, Josep Maria Lluch
    Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain


The Group of Pau Gorostiza at IBEC participates in the “Emerging Cluster of the Human Brain! (CECH) RIS3CAT Initiative, in which research institutes and industry work together to achieve an integrative and multi-level understanding of the human brain.

IBEC contributes to multi-disciplinary efforts to understand the brain and improve neurological healthcare

The Group of Pau Gorostiza at IBEC participates in the “Emerging Cluster of the Human Brain! (CECH) RIS3CAT Initiative, in which research institutes and industry work together to achieve an integrative and multi-level understanding of the human brain.


We are happy to receive CVs and enquiries from talented individuals. Prospective students and staff are encouraged to contact us to discuss possibilities. Please feel free to suggest new projects, areas of research or new ideas. You can visit the jobs page to find currents job openings in all IBEC groups or administration positions.