The ICREAs

ICREA research professors form a vibrant community of scientists and researchers in all areas of knowledge that contribute to the advancement of humankind by exploring, interpreting and questioning. Have a look and learn about their amazing discoveries and findings here:

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    Barril Alonso, Xavier
    Research Professor at
    Universitat de Barcelona (UB)
    Experimental Sciences & Mathematics
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    Research interests

    My main research interest is the discovery of bioactive molecules with novel mechanisms of action. These molecules can then be used as chemical probes to interrogate biological systems and validate new pharmacological targets, or as starting points to develop drug candidates. I aim to expand the so-called druggable genome by targeting untapped biological components, preferably through non-standard mechanisms of action, such as allosteric binding, conformational trapping or stabilisation of protein-protein complexes. To achieve this objective my group employs a multi-disciplinary and question-driven approach that combines computational, biophysical and biological techniques. We are particularly strong in computer-aided drug design and we develop new computational approaches that enable us to tackle such novel and difficult targets with confidence.

    Key words

    Computer-aided drug design; Structure-based drug discovery; Validation of new therapeutic targets

    ORCID

    : 0000-0002-0281-1347

    RESEARCHER ID

    : K-9607-2014
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    Bartumeus, Frederic
    Research Professor at
    Centre for Advanced Studies of Blanes (CSIC - CEAB)
    Life & Medical Sciences
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    Research interests

    My research is focused in the emerging field of movement ecology, which aims to reveal the complex forces that drive movement and dispersal patterns of animals (including humans). Improved tracking technology (GPS, bio-loggers, smart-phones) demands an integrative view, with new computational tools and modeling frameworks to understand unprecedented levels of detail from a constantly growing number of species. I am contributing to this scientific revolution based on a broad, highly collaborative and interdisciplinary research program, founded solidly on statistical physics and quantitative ecology. A central question in my research is how animals use information and their motor properties to optimize search strategies. The mechanistic linkage between behavioral processes and movement patterns is also key to understanding globalised problems such as the perpetuation of social inequality among humans or the spread of vector-borne infectious diseases.

    Key words

    Movement Ecology, Modelling, Search behaviour, Foraging, Migration, Conservation Biology, Invasion Ecology, Human mobility

    ORCID

    : 0000-0001-6908-3797

    RESEARCHER ID

    : D-1911-2010
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    Bassat Orellana, Quique
    Research Professor at
    Institut de Salut Global Barcelona (ISGlobal)
    Life & Medical Sciences
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    Research interests

    As a paediatrician, my research is based on the premise that there is no greater public health intervention than that which can reduce child mortality, particularly in poor contexts. To do these, I have worked in low and middle-income countries to understand and prevent malaria, pneumonia and other infectious diseases that most impact child survival. I have investigated in Mozambique, Morocco, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and now Bhutan, the epidemiology, aetiology and clinical characteristics of malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, neonatal sepsis, Yaws and other infectious diseases significantly affecting child's health. I’m interested in biomarkers of host response as diagnostic and prognostic tools to help triage children and better target antibiotics. For malaria and yaws, my research is contributing to develop and test the new paradigm of disease eradication, by assessing the impact of drugs to specifically interrupt their transmission. More recently, my research has focused on improving the poor existing data on the causes of child mortality. An important contribution has been the validation of a radically innovative minimally invasive autopsy (MIA) sampling protocol, currently being implemented in several countries as part of mortality surveillance and research protocols.

    Key words

    Child mortality, Cause of death, Paediatric infections, Pneumonia, Malaria, Eradication, Yaws

    ORCID

    : http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0875-7596

    RESEARCHER ID

    : https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Quique_Bassat
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    Batlle Gómez, Eduard
    Research Professor at
    Institut de Recerca Biomèdica (IRB Barcelona)
    Life & Medical Sciences
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    Research interests

    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 are also interested in the process of metastasis, the cause of death of most colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. Neither conventional chemotherapy nor current targeted therapies offer significant benefits once the disease has spread to distant organs.  Furthermore, current CRC staging based on histopathology and imaging has a limited ability to predict the evolution of the disease. We have recently discovered that vast majority of genes that distinguish poor prognosis CRC subtypes are expressed by stromal cells rather than by epithelial tumor cells. It appears that metastasis relies on a tumor cell non-autonomous program driven by TGF-beta in the tumor microenvironment. 

    Key words

    Colorectal cancer, intestinal stem cells, TGF-beta signaling, tumor microenvironment, metastasis
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    Battaglia, Giuseppe
    Research Professor at
    Institut de Bioenginyeria de Catalunya (IBEC)
    Engineering Sciences
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    Research interests

    I have put together a truly interdisciplinary collection of research activities where we address biological challenges (often associated with a specific clinical need) using a constructionist approach. I have christened this approach Molecular Bionics and I mimic biological complexity in the form of design principles to produce functional units from simple building blocks and their interactions. We employ Chemistry and Physics together to engineer synthesis and characterisation of novel hierarchal materials whose properties are the result of the holistic combination of its components (Molecular Engineering). We apply these for tackling clinical challenges associated with drug delivery and diagnostics where we engange with clinicians to design new therapies (Nanomedicine). We study in detail transport phenomena in our body to shed light on how material is tranported and processed as well as biological barrer can be overcame (Physical Biology).

    Key words

    Nanomedicine, drug delivery, polymersomes, block copolymer, biomaterials, physical biology, endocytosis, targeting, active matter, polymer synthesis

    ORCID

    : orcid.org/0000-0003-3349-6770

    RESEARCHER ID

    : I-2142-2013
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    Belarte Franco, Maria Carme
    Research Professor at
    Institut Català d'Arqueologia Clàssica (ICAC)
    Humanities
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    Research interests

    The general goal of my research is to study the processes that transformed the Late Bronze Age local-scale groups into the complex societies based on large territorial organizations of the Central and Western Mediterranean Iron Age. My topics of research include urbanization and state formation, settlement patterns, architecture, funerary practices and rituals. My current research mainly focuses on the study of protohistoric societies through an interdisciplinary analysis of domestic architecture and activities. I have recently begun the research project "Transdisciplinary and experimental study of combustion structures in the western Mediterranean during protohistory" (TRANSCOMB), that applies an interdisciplinary methodology to the study of domestic hearths and ovens of protohistoric societies. It integrates different specialities, including experimental archaeology.

    Key words

    Protohistoric societies, Iron Age, Western Mediterranean, domestic architecture, experimental archaeology, building techniques, town planning, settlement patterns, archaeology of death and rituals, paleodemography

    ORCID

    : 0000-0002-2293-0482