Winners of the Research Awards
Winners of the 4th edition
Winner of the Clinical category
Senior specialist in the Foetal Cardiology Unit of the Centre for Maternal-Foetal Medicine at Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, where she leads a pioneering consultation for the study of the foetal heart in extra-cardiac pathologies. Crispi combines her healthcare work with her work as a researcher at the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) and at BCNatal. She is also an associate professor at the University of Barcelona.
Her research has focused on studying babies born with a low weight, a condition that affects 7-10% of newborns and that has no treatment. This condition is associated with a high perinatal morbi-mortality, and also has consequences on the cardiovascular health of these future children and adults.
Crispi described how the heart of these foetuses is remodelled to adapt to the placental insufficiency that causes the low weight and, subsequently, she demonstrated that these cardiovascular changes persisted in childhood, adolescence and adulthood, which probably explains their greater susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases.
Following a study involving the diet of pregnant women, Crispi and her team were able to reduce by 30% the number of babies with a low birthweight, as well as the associated cardiovascular damage. Thanks to the support of the Fundación Jesús Serra, her objective is now to study whether benefits on cardiovascular development persist in children a few years after their birth.
Winner of the Basic category
Ikerbasque Research Professor at the Centre for Cooperative Research in Biosciences (CIC bioGUNE) and Associate Professor at the University of the Basque Country. Arkaitz Carracedo received a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Complutense University of Madrid. After postdoctoral positions at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School (USA), he established his research group at CIC bioGUNE at the end of 2010. His laboratory is a pioneer in the study of the metabolic bases of prostate cancer. His research in this field has been funded by three projects of the European Research Council (ERC) and has also been recognised with numerous awards, to which he now adds the Fundación Jesús Serra Research Award.
Prostate cancer is the most common among men, which is a major health and socio-economic problem. The winning project aims to understand the molecular bases that regulate the aggressiveness of this type of cancer. Specifically, Carracedo aims to clarify the molecular effects of polyamines on tumour and non-tumour cells, and thus define their therapeutic potential to regulate their synthesis in our organism or even refine their use as dietary supplements.
Polyamines are key molecules in cell growth, development and senescence. These molecules are found easily in the Mediterranean diet and are postulated as healthy dietary supplements due to their anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing effects. However, Carracedo and his team have discovered that the metabolism of polyamines is altered in cancer cells, generating higher concentrations of this molecule that could determine the progress of prostate cancer. A better understanding of this crossover effect of polyamines will allow therapeutic interventions to be developed that find a balance between their healthy effects and the access of cancer cells to these molecules.
Mª. Carmen Collado
Clinical Research (ex aequo)
Agricultural Engineer (2000) and Graduate in Food Science and Technology (2002) from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV). In January 2005, she completed a PhD from the UPV and won the Extraordinary PhD Prize.
Currently, she is Scientific Research Fellow of the CSIC in the Group of Tactical and Probiotic Bacteria at the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC). Since 2007 she has been an assistant professor at the University of Turku (Finland). Dr. Collado also participates in various specialisation courses, including on Master’s degrees at the UPV, University of Valencia (UV) and University of Turku (Finland).
Her research is framed by the establishment of associations between human microbiota, food and health in the maternal and child binomial. More specifically, her team investigates the impacts of early exposure (perinatal, environmental and genetic factors) on the microbiota as well as components specific to breast milk (including immune markers, metabolites, oligosaccharides, microbiota), and the impacts of these on the health of the child and the future adult.
Clinical Research (ex aequo)
A cardiologist at the Hospital Fundación Jiménez Díaz in Madrid, and group leader at CIBER on cardiovascular diseases (CIBERCV), he is a world opinion leader in the field of heart disease. He has been chosen by the European Cardiology Society as the chairman of the clinical practice guides for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction. His speciality is “Anthracycline cardiotoxicity: development of therapies aimed at mitochondrial protection. From mechanism to the patient.”
He has published more than 240 scientific articles, half of them as lead author, in top journals such as Science, The Lancet, JACC, European Heart Journal, Nature Communications, among others.
Dr. Ibáñez leads research in the field of myocardial diseases, in particular acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and cardiotoxicity associated with cancer treatments.
In this regard, one of his lines of research is to develop a new therapeutic intervention aimed at reducing the prevalence of chronic heart failure in cancer survivors. A clinical trial is currently underway to this end, in which a new bioimaging marker will be validated that can identify very early stages of heart damage in patients undergoing anticancer therapy.
He is also the principal investigator of a major international clinical trial (REBOOT, with 8,500 post-infarction patients) that will change treatment guidelines for this condition around the world. His most recent research includes leadership of a clinical trial in 7 European countries testing this therapy in lymphoma patients (RESILIENCE).
Recent awards Dr Ibáñez has received include the ‘Young Talent’ Award at the 6th edition of the Constantes y Vitales Biomedical Research Awards, the Prince of Girona Award, the FPdGi Scientific Research Award, and the Banco Sabadell Foundation Award for Biomedical Research.
Professor and researcher on the Oportunius Programme at the Singular Centre for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases (CIMUS) of the University of Santiago de Compostela, where he coordinates the Molecular Metabolism group.
His career has always focused on the study of molecular mechanisms involved in obesity, a pandemic disease with a particularly high economic, social and health cost. The main lines of research of his group include:
- Investigating the mechanisms involved in the interaction between the central nervous system and peripheral organs to regulate energy balance. This has led to the identification of various factors involved in this interaction, including several gastrointestinal hormones, melanin-concentrating hormone, dopamine and the p53 gene.
- His team has recently been working to identify new mechanisms involved in the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a disease closely linked to obesity whose prevalence is steadily increasing and for which there is no treatment.
Private foundation of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute and of the Catalan Institute of Oncology
Raúl Zamora Ros is part of the team of researchers from the private foundation Bellvitge Biomedical Research institute (IDIBELL). He received this award for his research work in the field of clinical research, and in particular for his research work “Dietary polyphenols and their effects on obesity markers”, which assesses the association between exposure to polyphenols and obesity markers, as well as their effect on health parameters and weight loss during a slimming treatment.
Catalan Institute of Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) and Biomedical Research Institute of Barcelona (IRB Barcelona)
Salvador Aznar Benitah, from the Catalan Institute of Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) and the Biomedical Research Institute of Barcelona (IRB Barcelona), was chosen for his extensive work in the field of basic research, and in particular for his research on the “Impact of dietary fatty acids on metastasis-initiating cells”. This project aims to delve into recent discoveries on metastasis-initiating cells with high levels of the fatty acid receptor CD36. The research team hopes to obtain essential information on the mechanisms of metastasis and how they are influenced by diet. This point is important since Western diets have a large intake of fatty acids, and metastasis is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths.
Dra. Guadalupe Sabio
Scientist and professor, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Extremadura with an Extraordinary Prize (2000) and a PhD from the Medical Research Council.
She worked as a research associate at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Massachusetts (Worcester, United States), until 2009 when she returned to Spain under a Ramón y Cajal contract to study diseases associated with obesity, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. In 2011 she joined the CNIC, where she leads the research group on this subject. In 2018 she received the Fundación Jesús Serra Research Award for her professional career, presenting a project on the role of mitogen-activated protein kinases in regulating the signalling pathways involved in metabolism, cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis.
Dr. Pablo Pérez
Degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Córdoba (1997), specialist in Internal Medicine at the Reina Sofía University Hospital.
Professor of Medicine at the University of Cordoba, he is currently working as a principal investigator at the Maimonides Institute for Biomedical Research. His scientific activity has focused on the study of clinical nutrigenomics, focusing on gene-environment interaction, including intestinal microbioma and somatic genomes, biomodulation of cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. He won the Fundación Jesús Serra Research Award for his professional career with a project on the role of the Mediterranean diet in improving mild cognitive impairment through the modulation of neuropeptides, fatty acids, markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in the microbiota, intestine and brain.