My multidisciplinary background began with my initial BSc in Biology (University of Oviedo, Spain, 2002). I successfully converted from a MSc in Molecular genetics (conservation and population genetics, University of Oviedo, Spain, 2004) to a PhD with honours (University of Valladolid, Spain, 2008) in molecular immunology followed by a postdoctoral stay at Imperial College London (United Kingdom, 2009-2015) where I have specialized on human mucosal immunology. The quality of my organisation and project management skills are proven by my establishing and maintaining an active network which allowed me to publish original research articles in multiple topics in 5 different laboratories, in 3 different countries, where I have worked (Spain, 2001/9; the Netherlands, 2006; UK 2009/2015; and Spain since 2015) showing my ability to be flexible and well organised in my approaches to research.
After obtaining my PhD under supervision of Dr Eduardo Arranz I continued at his lab for a year where, based on original findings developed though my PhD, I organized and co-supervised projects of 3 PhD students. In 2009 I moved to Imperial College London (UK) where I was under direct supervision of Prof Stella C. Knight, a world-renowned authority in human mucosal immunology and where I was directing the work of 3 MD students, an allocated research technician and supervising several visiting researchers. In 2015 I decide to move back to Spain with Dr Javier P Gisbert, a world- renowned authority in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).
My current field of expertise relies on study of human dendritic cells as modulators of immune responses in health, and how changes in their properties are related to development of gastrointestinal diseases like IBD, coeliac disease and colorectal cancer. I have recently helped to demonstrate that the crosstalk between intestinal microbiota and the immune system is mediated though the action of bacteria-derived soluble factors; also changes in these mechanisms are related to development of IBD. After obtaining a patent on the issue I am collaborating with the Institute of Food Research (Norwich, UK) using animal models to study the use of these bacteria proteins that I have identified to treat IBD. I also hold a patent on identification of a gliadin peptide specifically generated in the duodenum of coeliac patients. Based on that, and in collaboration with the industry (Biomedal SL), we are commercialising in the short-term a novel coeliac disease biomarker.
In the last 10 years I have obtained personal fellowships from Spain (“Starting research fellowships” and “FPU fellowships”) and the European Union (FP7-People-2008-IEF); have been named as a research collaborator in projects funded by the industry (“Abbot Spain”, “Dendrico SL”, “Sweedig Diagnostics”); in grants from competitive calls both in Spain (“Carlos III Health Research Funds”, “Government from Castilla y León”, “Madrid Association of coeliac patients” and “Spanish Agency for International cooperation”) and in the UK (Biological Sciences Research Council –BBSRC- and St Mark’s Hospital Foundation); and PI in projects funded by the Spanish Government (Proyectos Retos Jovenes Investigadores).
To date, I have 51 published/in-press peer-reviewed SCI publications (431 total citations; h-index: 13), 2 PCT patents, 6 book chapters and 3 non-indexed publications. I have been awarded twice as best communication in a conference and performed 20 invited talks (USA, Spain, UK and Norway). I was selected to attend the 60th Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau (Germany) in 2010. I have been recognized as a Bright Spark in Immunology at the British Society for Immunology Conference (2013) and as a Rising Start by the Spanish Society of Gastrointestinal Diseases (2014). I am reviewer of 12 and editor of 6 indexed peer-reviewed journals and member of 3 scientific societies. I have been external reviewer/examiner of 9 PhDs. I have reviewed projects for the Medical Research Council (UK), Spanish Society of Coeliac Disease (Sociedad Española de Enfermedad Celiaca, Spain), Health Research Board (Ireland), Spanish Society of gastrointestinal diseases (Sociedad Española de Patologías Digestivas) and Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw). I am also involved in public engagement activities being scientific advisor of 2 patient associations, having written 4 lay articles in non-scientific journals and being a scientific coordinator of a science divulgation blog.
Having developed an independent international research network, my current interest is focussed on the study of dendritic cell compartmentalization though the length of the gut in health and IBD aiming to develop tissue-specific immunotherapy approaches in IBD avoiding the collateral effects of systemic immunomodulation.