After I graduated with honors in Chemistry at the University of Valencia, I started my PhD in the Department of Genetics with the aim to create a Drosophila melanogaster model to study a rare neurodegenerative disease called Friedreich´s ataxia (FRDA). During this period, I got a solid knowledge about Drosophila genetics, molecular biology methods and basic neuroscience and I developed an in vivo model that mimics the frataxin levels found in FRDA patients.
All this allowed me to move, immediately after getting my PhD degree, to the Institute of Zoology at the chair of Prof. Dr. Stephan Schneuwly in the University of Regensburg, where I am working at the moment. During this period at the University of Regensburg, Prof. Dr. Schneuwly has supported and encouraged me to conduct my own independent research with the fruit fly and FRDA as well as with the opportunity to lead a small work group. Our work has been pioneer in the analysis of lipid homeostasis in FRDA and the influence of glial cells and mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum contacts in the etiology of the disease. Besides FRDA research, I am also heading in the lab the study in Drosophila of a new gene related to Parkinson´s disease, a lysosomal ATPase named ATP13A2.
Moreover, during my postdoctoral stage, I have not only expanded my scientific knowledge and laboratory skills, I have also participated in research planning and mentoring/supervising of several Diploma, Master and Bachelor students, as well as a couple of PhD students. This responsibility together with my roles as coordinator and lecturer in the International Master Programme “Experimental and Clinical Neurosciences” has provided me with substantial experience in teaching and training.
I am a scientist focused on the mitochondrial biology and neurodegeneration with experience the study and analysis of autophagy and mitophagy, metabolism, oxidative stress, metal homeostasis and mitochondrial dynamics. I strongly believe that Drosophila melanogaster has an extraordinary potential to contribute and to strengthen the neuroscience research. Such a powerful model would offer a broad spectrum of tools and approaches to perform translational neurosciences. Drosophila has led neurosciences studies in the last century. The fruit fly has been, for example, pioneer in the study of the cellular function of Pink and Parkin and their role in Parkinson’s disease. During the last years, I have been able to consolidate a small network of collaborators. For example, Prof. Dr. Stephan Schneuwly, my current supervisor, and Prof Maria D. Molto, my PhD supervisor, both working with Drosophila models of diseases; Prof. Alberto Ferrús working with synapses in Drosophila; Prof. Frank Schnorrer leading a team focused on muscle development and dysfunction; Stephanie Mohr the director of the Drosophila RNAi Screen Center in Boston; Fanis Missirlis an expert in metal homeostasis and Prof. Pascal Therond at the Institute of Biology Valrose in Nice as well as Veronique Monnier PhD, Pilar Gónzalez-Cabo PhD, Prof. Ignacio Torres, Prof. Javier Diaz and Prof. Francesc Palau all working with cellular and animal models of FRDA and other neurological disorders.
I am a hard worker, reliable and organized. I am good at working on my own but I also feel comfortable working in teams. I never give up and I take care of people under my supervision. I am beginning to be well known in the field of Drosophila disease models and among researchers working in Friedreich Ataxia, since my work has been regularly selected for oral presentations in most of the congresses I have attended.