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Isidre Fainé, President of ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation, Javier Solana, member of ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation’s Board of Trustees and Expert Advisory Council for Research, Pedro Duque, the Spanish Government’s Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities, and Jaume Giró, CEO of ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation, with the researchers awarded (Photo: ”la Caixa”).

Researchers from IBEC and IRB Barcelona awarded by “la Caixa” for their pioneering research projects

On 16 September, ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation presented the 79 grants for national and international research and innovation projects of excellence. Among the beneficiaries of funding from ”la Caixa” are researchers Eduard Batlle, Raúl Méndez, Meritxell Teixidó and Enrique Marcos, from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), and José Antonio del Río, Pau Gorostiza and Samuel Sánchez, from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC).


“Questions for the Future” is the central theme that all 79 projects awarded by ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation revolve around, as each seeks answers that will help to build a better future for society. The research projects respond to the three lines of action promoted by the Foundation in the field of research: Postdoctoral Junior Leader fellowships to foster research talent; support for Biomedical and Health Research Projects; and CaixaImpulse, a programme aimed at transferring the results of biomedical research to society. 

IBEC research projects

José Antonio del Río, Pau Gorostiza, and Samuel Sánchez have been awarded in two of the “la Caixa” calls.

José Antonio Del Río, principal investigator of the Molecular and Cellular Neurobiotechnology Group at IBEC, is one of the winners of the second edition of the call for applications in biomedicine and health. Del Río’s project focuses on analysing the molecular mechanisms involved in the genesis and propagation of tau protein in brain cells. 

Pau Gorostiza, principal investigator of the Nanoprobes and Nanoswitches Group, also received an award at the second edition of the call for applications for research projects in biomedicine and health. In this case, for his project on degenerative eye conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa, which causes blindness due to the progressive degeneration of the cones and rods, which are the light sensitive cells. The end goal is to recover the light sensitivity of a human retina under laboratory conditions.

Samuel Sánchez, principal investigator of the Smart nano-bio devices group at IBEC, received the CaixaImpulse award for his “TERANOBOTS” project. This patented technology is based on nanomotrs powered by urease which offers a new strategy for reducing the recurrence of bladder cancer. As a result of their improved mobility, nanomotrs can better penetrate the cancerous tissue and improve treatment efficacy. More information: IBEC website [+]

IRB Barcelona research projects

IRB Barcelona researchers Eduard Batlle and Raúl Méndez obtained two grants from the call for Research projects in biomedicine and health, Meritxel Teixidó received a grant from the CaixaImpulse Programme, and Enrique Marcos was awarded a Postdoctoral fellowship.

Eduard Batlle, ICREA researcher and head of the Colorectal Cancer Lab, aims to develop new therapies aimed at curing patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. The objective of this project is to discover how tumour cells modify their environment to elude the immune system and how they allow the regeneration of the tumour. his research is expected to contribute to the development of new oncological therapies.

 ICREA researcher Raúl Méndez, head of the Translational Control of Cell Cycle and Differentiation Lab, studies how liver cells undergo dramatic changes in their gene expression in response to hypercaloric diets and how these changes can contribute to the development of tumours. In part, these modifications are carried by RNA-binding proteins. The award-winning project aims to unravel the deregulation of these RNA-binding proteins and determine how they affect the inflammation of the liver and the response of the immune system. 

Meritxell Teixidó, associate researcher in the Design, Synthesis and Structure of Proteins and Peptides Lab, works on the development of shuttle-peptides that allow drugs to reach the brain. With this CaixaImpulse project, Teixidó intends to advance the preclinical development of one of the compounds with the greatest therapeutic potential for a specific type of pediatric glioma. 

Biological processes are regulated by proteins that can swap between active and inactive states in function of cell requirements and the environment. The project led by Enrique Marcos, postdoctoral researcher in the Molecular Modelling and Bioinformatics Lab, intends to design small molecule-responsive switches for these proteins. Ligand-binding domains will be tailor-made to link biomarkers in order to develop new biosensors for cancer studies by providing general methods for biotechnological and medical applications. More information: IRB Barcelona website [+]