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Dr. Nuria López-Bigas (Photo: IRB Barcelona).

Núria López-Bigas wins the Lilly Foundation Award for Preclinical Biomedical Research 2023

Dr. Nuria López-Bigas, ICREA researcher at IRB Barcelona, based in PCB, has been received the Lilly Foundation Award for Preclinical Biomedical Research 2023 for her novel studies using new advanced bioinformatics and artificial intelligence approaches to identify the process that gives rise to mutations in cancer. The prize in the Clinical Biomedical Research category went to Dr. María Buti from Vall de Hebrón. The awards, which have become a benchmark for outstanding careers within the scientific community, will be released on June 26.

Dr. Nuria López-Bigas has been distinguished with the award for her pioneering work using new advanced bioinformatics and artificial intelligence (AI) approaches to identify processes that bring about mutations and for developing methodologies to identify the mutations involved in the development of cancer.

Her contributions are key, both in the context of research into mutation accumulation processes in tumour cells and the development of bioinformatics tools such as BoostDM, an AI tool inspired by evolutionary biology, and the Cancer Genome Interpreter, which allows the identification of cancer-driving mutations and biomarkers of drug response in individual tumours. This latter project will have a direct application in personalised precision medicine for cancer in the hospital setting.

Likewise, the Biomedical Genomics laboratory that she leads studies the effects of chemotherapy on the DNA of the cells of cancer patients and has identified the mutational signatures produced by common chemotherapy treatments. Dr. López-Bigas also directs large international consortiums, such as Prominent, a project aimed at understanding the early stages of tumour development and which will lead to new cancer prevention strategies, and CGI-Clinics, which seeks to implement and systemise the interpretation of tumour genomes for personalised cancer medicine.

Dr. María Buti Ferret, senior consultant of the Hepatology Service of the Vall dʼHebron University Hospital, principal investigator of the Viral Hepatitis group of the Vall dʼHebron Research Institute (VHIR) and professor of Medicine at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, has been presented with the 2023 Lilly Foundation Award for Clinical Biomedical Research, in recognition of her contributions to research into these diseases and especially to viral hepatitis.

On the occasion of the announcement of the awardees, Dr. José Antonio Sacristán, director of the Lilly Foundation, highlighted that “both researchers, who have excellent scientific careers, are true reflections of the purpose of these awards, namely to acknowledge those people who are role models for their capacity for innovation, dedication and success in basic and clinical research”. Likewise, he pointed out the high scientific caliber of all the candidates (almost 60) who were considered for the award in this year, a number that, in his opinion, “is a reflection of the quality of biomedical scientists, and therefore of the science done in Spain”. He went on to say, “We must continue doing everything necessary to promote science of excellence and ensure that it can have an economic and social impact”.

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