Zaida Álvarez receives the Muy Nanotecnología award and a special mention from the Duran Farell Research Technology Award

Zaida Álvarez and Diana Morant

On November 29th, Zaida Álvarez, a ‘Ramon y Cajal’ researcher at the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), received the Muy Nanotecnología award from the Minister of Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, at the Coliseum Theater in Madrid. This award, granted by the science popularization magazine Muy Interesante, recognizes the work of outstanding female scientists in fields such as health, technology, and biology, among others. 

Zaida was awarded for her pioneering work developed over seven years at Northwestern University, which resulted in a study published in the prestigious Science magazine in 2021 signed by her as the first author. In this study, researchers managed to recover the mobility of paralyzed mice with a single injection of nanofibers into the spinal cord. 

In addition to this award, on November 30th, the Polytechnic University of Catalonia also announced the winners of the 2022 Duran Farres Research Technology Awards, where Zaida Álvarez received a special mention from the jury for her project ‘Artificial Extracellular Matrix Scaffolds of Mobile Molecules Enhance Maturation of Human Stem Cell-Derived Neurons’. This research focuses on the development of a synthetic matrix based on functionalized peptide hydrogels (IKVAV), which could be used as a fundamental tool to search for new therapies that help understand the effect of certain drugs or regenerative therapies on culture plates. 

Zaida completed her doctoral thesis in biomaterials for the repair of brain damage at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia between 2010 and 2014. Afterwards, between 2015 and 2019, she carried auto a postdoctoral stay at the Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology at Northwestern University in Chicago. Subsequently, from 2019 to 2021, she worked as a Research Assistant Professor at the Feinberg Medical School of Medicine at Northwestern University. 

She returned to Barcelona in 2022 as a researcher with a “Beatriu de Pinós” scholarship at the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and has obtained a “Ramón y Cajal” to continue researching new therapies for the repair of damaged spinal cord. 

This year, Zaida has also been distinguished with important scholarships such as the ‘Mike Line’ and the ‘Ramón y Cajal’, as well as the Rafael Hervada award for biomedical research.