Eduard Batlle winner of the Pezcoller award of The European Association for Cancer Research

The European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) announced the last Friday that Eduard Batlle is the winner of the Pezcoller Foundation – EACR Cancer Researcher Award.

The award, presented biennially to a researcher of excellence with no more than 15 years post-doctoral experience, celebrates academic excellence and achievements in the field of cancer research.

Eduard Batlle, is an ICREA (Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats) Research Professor at IRB Barcelona (Institut de Recerca Biomèdica) who coordinates the Oncology Programme and directs the Colorectal Cancer Laboratory Group at IRB Barcelona.

Eduard Batlle (Barcelona, 1970), received a doctorate in biology from the University of Barcelona. He spent four years at the Netherlands Institute for Developmental Biology, in Utrecht, The Netherlands, under the mentorship of the renowned scientist Hans Clevers.

His work has been published in the best biomedical journals, including several articles in Nature journals and deserving two covers in Cell and Cancer Cell. Dr. Batlle holds several prizes, including the Debiopharm Life Sciences Award for Outstanding Research in Oncology from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland (2006), the Banc Sabadell Biomedical Research Award (2010), Dr. Josef Steiner Cancer Research Award (2013) and “Doctores Diz Pintado” National Cancer Research Prize (2014).

Research activity in the last 10 years has focused on the mechanisms that drive colorectal cancer progression. Among other findings, his work revealed the first connection between intestinal stem cells and colorectal cancer.

The inner layer of the intestinal tube, the intestinal epithelium, is in a constant process of renewal. Hundreds of millions of terminally differentiated intestinal cells are replaced by new cells every day during the life of an adult organism. This tremendous regenerative power is ultimately sustained by a small population of intestinal stem cells. It is believed that alterations in the functioning of intestinal stem cells account for the pathophysiology of various bowel disorders. Our laboratory studies the connection between the biology of Intestinal Stem Cells and Colon Cancer. We have recently archived for the first time the isolation of stem cells of the human colonic epithelium as well as of tumour stem cells from colon cancers. We are currently analysing the features of these two cell types with the aim of designing new therapeutic and diagnostic tools for the management of colon cancer.

Our most honestly congratulations


A catalan, Director of the Theoretical Division of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics

Joan Ignasi Cirac és un físic català que ha arribat molt alt en el camp de la recerca en teòrica quàntica. Nascut a Manresa, es llicencià en física teòrica. L’any 1991, després de llegir la seva tesi doctoral es traslladà als Estats Units per treballar com a investigador post-doctoral amb Peter Zoller al Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics de la Universitat de Colorado i el 1996  va aconseguí la càtedra d’astrofísica al Institut für Theoretische Physik d’Innsbruck.

Des de 2001 és director de la Divisió de Teoria de l’Institut Max Planck d’Òptica Quàntica de Garching a Alemanya. L’Institut Max Planck aglutina més de vuitanta instituts i centres de recerca, agrupats en tretze seus repartides per Europa, Estats Units i Àsia.

Cirac ha estat treballant fent recerca a dotze universitats d’arreu del nom i també en l’Institut Tecnològic de Massachusetts (MIT). El 2013 va rebre el premi Wolf de física, junt  amb Zoller, per les seves innovadores aportacions teòriques als camps del processament d’informació quàntica, de l’òptica quàntica i de la física dels gasos quàntics. El premis Wolf és el premi de més prestigi en el camp de la física i l’antesala del premi Nobel, per la qual cosa el seu nom sona amb força com a mereixedor d’aquest guardó.

Es considera el pioner en la teoria quàntica de la informació (computació quàntica).  Segons les seves teories, la computació quàntica revolucionarà la societat de la informació i farà possible una comunicació molt més eficient i segura. El seu treball “Quantum Computations with Cold Trapped Ions”, al costat de Zoller, és considerat com el primer article que mostra com construir un ordinador quàntic  i la seva recerca sobre les xarxes òptiques va impulsar el camp de la simulació quàntica. Recentment ha realitzat importants aportacions al desenvolupament de la teoria quàntica de molts cossos, com la introducció dels “projected entangled -pair states” per descriure sistemes en equilibri.

Al mateix dia que anava a RAC1 a explicar la base dels ordinadors quàntics i feia una conferència a la Universitat de Vic, el Dr. Cirac ha assistit a la renovació de la càtedra  Ignacio Cirac, Fundació Catalunya – La Pedrera de l’Institut de Ciències Fotòniques (ICFO), amb l’objectiu de promoure la captació de talent internacional en l’àmbit de la recerca en teoria quàntica de la informació.

Felicitem a tots els integrants de l’ICFO per aquesta bona notícia i és un plaer per tots constatar la bona salut de que gaudeix aquesta recerca al nostre país.


Angel Raya, the new director of the Barcelona Center of Regenerative Medicine

As we explained in a previous research new, Dr.  Juan Carlos Izpisúa left the management of the Barcelona Center of Regenerative Medicine  (CMRB), and the new director will be Dr. Angel Raya, a former post-doc of Dr. Izpisúa. Given the importance of CMRB in the current context of research in Catalonia, the bet for a person at charge of this center is not an easy task.

Dr. Angel Raya Chamorro was born in Argamasilla de Calatrava (Puertollano, Ciudad Real). He graduated (1990) and did his PhD (1995) at the University of Valencia. Then enjoyed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Cytological Research of Valencia (Príncipe Felipe Research Centre), and in 2000 began a postdoc in the lab of gene expression of Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. There he worked under Dr. Izpisúa’s supervision, with whom he has shared much of his research ever since. In 2006 he joined ICREA at the CMRB, leading the CIBER group Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine. Already in 2009, he joined Bioengineyeria Institute of Catalonia (IBEC), which until now has assumed leadership of the “Control of Stem Cell Potency” group.

He is currently the Main Investigator of the following research areas: heart regeneration in the zebrafish, Mechanisms of induced reprogramming to pluripotency and bioengineering approach to heart muscle differentiation the differentiation of myocardic cells.

Raya’s work aims to understand the tissue, the cellular and molecular mechanisms that determine the regenerative response in certain species of vertebrates, as well as genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that control cellular reprogramming. This provides a link between the traditional study of epimorphic regeneration and induced pluripotent strategies of regenerative medicine. His research was therefore focused to biomedical applications of induced pluripotent stem cells. In this way, he has currently obtained funds from four sources: the John Hopkins Institute, the Basque Foundation for Health Research and Innovation, the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the Institute of Health Carlos III. With these grants, Dr. Raya wants to continue his research on specific applications, like neurofibromatosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiomyopathy and hemophilia.

Additionally, he has contributed to a great number of publications in several scientific journals. Some to be mentioned: Stem Cells, EMBO, Nature, Nature Genetics, Nature Protocols and Nature Biotechnology.

We are proud to have such a distinguished figure leading one of our best research institutions, and so we appreciate their commitment to the responsibility that entails. We honestly wish him all the success in his new workplace at the CMRB.

“The continuation of Ángel’s research line at IBEC, linked to the biomaterials and cell engineering activities, while he takes up his directorate duties at CMRB offers stability to the Catalan and Spanish research system, and will allow the consolidation of the research programme in regenerative medicine that it has been developing in recent years in different research centres,” says Josep Samitier, Director of IBEC.


World AIDS Day and research on HIV in Catalonia

Today, December 1st, we celebrate the World AIDS Day. Related to this event, it is interesting to know the research that is being carried out on vaccines against HIV in Catalonia through the HIVACAT program.

As we discussed in a recent entry (14-10-13) on occasion of the World Congress on AIDS vaccine, AIDS Vaccine 2013, Catalonia has a large critical mass of researchers who do quality research in this area. Among the leaders , the public-private consortium HIVACAT integrates two prestigious research centers , the IrsiCaixa Institute for Research on AIDS and the Infectious Diseases and AIDS IDIBAPS / Hospital Clinic of Barcelona team, in collaboration with Esteve and supported by Obra Social “La Caixa”, the Government of Catalonia and the Clínic Foundation. The program is co-directed by Dr. Bonaventura Clotet (IrsiCaixa) and by Dr. Josep Maria Gatell  (Hospital Clínic).

The HIVACAT research programme is structured around 8 areas of research, including the description of markers related to the control of the infection, the study of HIV diversity and its effects on immune response, the analysis of HIV entry mechanisms in target cells, and the development of new substances capable of acting as vaccines. Some of them are therapeutic vaccines, they induce an immune response in infected individuals to control virus replication. In recent years, researchers have found some therapeutic vaccine candidates that have been already tested in humans, with promising results. But researchers at HIVACAT are also working on prophylactic vaccines, which could be used to prevent infection.

Despite these success, research on HIV is in danger if funding is lacking, as Dr. Clotet warned yesterday in statements made to El Punt/Avui . According to Dr. Clotet “3.5 million euro will be required to advance in the most promising projects”. Where will these funds come from? Probably, public investment will not be sufficient. This is why HIVACAT encourages civil society to make donations. From one euro, one can to contribute to finance the development of a low cost HIV vaccine, easily accessible to all sectors of the population.


TV3 Telethon 2013: Solidarity does not degenerate

On Thursday 31 October started the social dissemination campaign of the 2013 Telethon (La Marató de TV3, organized by the public Catalan TV) devoted to neurodegenerative diseases. Under the slogan “Solidarity does not degenerate” this celebration of solidarity will work to raise awareness and funds to combat a type of disease which affects half of the population over 80 years.

Read more…


The AIDS vaccine is cooked in Catalonia

Last week took place in Barcelona a Global Congress on AIDS vaccine, AIDS Vaccine 2013. This is possible because Catalonia has a large critical mass of researchers who do quality research in this area. In recent days the media have been debating about it, because this vaccine is one of the greatest challenges of modern biomedicine.

AIDS Vaccine 2013 is organized by the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise and the HIVACAT Program for HIV vaccine research, of this year’s local organizer. HIVACAT is an unprecedented public-private consortium , located in Barcelona, formed by the two largest HIV / AIDS research centers in Catalonia, the IrsiCaixa Institute for Research on AIDS and the Infectious Diseases and AIDS IDIBAPS / Hospital Clinic of Barcelona team, in collaboration with Esteve and supported by Obra Social “La Caixa”, the Government of Catalonia and the Clínic Foundation.

The message these days was that, even though the HIVACAT program funding remains intact thanks to its scientific quality and the commitment of its donors , more investment is needed to remain competitive internationally and finally defeat the disease. A minimum of 4 million Euros would allow the first steps towards a clinical trial featuring some of the recent discoveries made by scientists Catalans. An extra effort is necessary to take the leap between excellence and success.

Probably this is a reality that an independent Catalonia would have to face. We have a solid base but we must redouble our efforts to change the current trends in research funding. The wealth of a country is also measured in terms of scientific production, in biomedicine and in any other field, and its ability to transfer this knowledge to the market. We must work hard as a country to grant success in the quest of a AIDS vaccine and to reinforce research and innovation in the broadest sense.

Listen to the Congress Opening Press Conference at: www.aidsvaxwebcasts.org

Listen to Dr. Gatell, from IDIBAPS-Hospital Clínic of Barcelona and co- director of HIVACAT, at TV3 program Els Matins (In Catalan):

Listen to Dr . Bonaventura Clotet from IrsiCaixa and co-director of HIVACAT in TVE program Los Deseayunos (from minute 40) (in Spanish):

View interviews with the Congress organizers by Barcelona Press Room:


Upcoming events

Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation promotes the “Science Week”. From 15 to 24 November will be held in Catalonia the 18th Science Week, during which there will be a lot of scientific activities across our country. This year the main topics are “Statistics”, “Water” and “Einstein” because 2013 is the International Year of Statistics, the International Year of Water Cooperation and the 90th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s visit to Catalonia. You can find more information on: http://www.fundaciorecerca.cat/setmanaciencia/.

On September 26, in the Aula Magna of the Facultat d’Economia i Empresa, University of Barcelona, at 18:30 pm, is presented ​​the first edition of “Akademia program” from Bankinter Innovation Foundation. Akademia aims to awaken the entrepreneurial spirit and foster innovative thinking in the University. It is aimed at students of the University of Barcelona who are attending the last year or do a master degree or a postgraduate degree. The aim is to provide them the necessary training to lead innovative projects or start their own business in the future.


The R+D budget deceit

Carlos Andradas, president of the Confederation of Spanish Scientific Societies and member of the “Carta por la Ciencia” initiative, shows in an article published in El País how the Spanish government not only reduces, but also plays with the numbers of the R+D budget


“Fighting for Life”, a documentary about the Catalan research by the Catalan TV (TV3)

A few months ago TV3 presented “Fighting for Life“, a documentary with an exceptional cast of Catalan scientists who talked about cancer genetics, heart, origin of life, ecology, diabetes, immunology and neurology summarizing a hundred years of science and its social significance. Celebrating the centenary of the Catalan Society of Biology, this documentary reviews the history and potential of our research.

Lluitant per la vida (TV3)

The documentary is filmed in Catalan, and we could not find a subtitled version. To see an earlier documentary, with a different scope but still interesting, oriented to an English speaking audience, you can view “Spains’s secret conflict”:

Stay tuned for further information about the Catalan process.