Organising commitee

Javier Pardo (symposium chair)

I studied Biotechnology at the Technical University of Madrid (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid – UPM), specialising in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. At the moment, I am finishing a doctorate in Statistics at the University of Oxford. The main aim of my research is designing bioinformatics tools to study the changes in gene expression. Specifically, I am interested in the generation and study of gene co-expression networks and apply them to a soil bacterium, Rhizobium leguminosarum, which fixes atmospheric nitrogen when infecting plants. Since December 2021, I am also the Director of the Oxford constituency of SRUK/CERU. My interests are quite diverse and include research, bioinformatics, science communication, management and politics.

Marta Acebrón

Marta graduated from the University of Navarra in Pamplona, where she completed a BSc in Biochemistry and a BSc in Biology. After obtaining a Master’s in Oviedo, she completed her PhD at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO) in 2018, where she worked on fragment-based drug discovery of focal adhesion kinase. Then, in 2018, she joined the Biochemistry department at the University of Cambridge as a post-doctoral researcher. Her current work at Professor Sir Tom Blundell’s lab is focused on drug design against Mycobacterium leprae.

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Sandra Álvarez

Sandra obtained a BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Rovira I Virgili University (Spain) and an MSc in Bioinformatics at Högskolan I Skövde (Sweden). She then carried out her PhD in Computational Biology at Queen Mary University of London, where she worked on the application of Bayesian MCMC statistical methods to infer species divergence times by integrating molecular and morphological quantitative data. Currently, she is a post-doctoral researcher at University College London where she is developing and applying new methods to estimate species divergence times with morphological quantitative data. She aims to use these new tools in timetree inference when combining large-scale morphological datasets (with both extant and fossil species) with phylogenomic data sets. She has been a member of SRUK/CERU since 2017, when she joined the SRUK/CERU London working group. In 2018, she joined the press department as the London press officer and the blog editors team. Since 2019, she is the secretary of the SRUK/CERU London constituency, the co-editor-in-chief of the SRUK blog, and has been deeply involved in the SRUK/CERU’s website management and development.

More information:

Twitter@sabifo4 | GitHub@sabifo4

Virgínia Casablancas

Virgínia is a 3rd year PhD student at the Systems Approaches to Biomedical Sciences Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Oxford, under the supervision of Prof. Andrew Baldwin (Department of Chemistry) and Dr. Gary Sharman (Lilly UK). Her research focuses on unravelling the mechanisms of protein aggregation and inhibition by small molecules in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. She previously studied an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2014), including an Erasmus stay at the University of St Andrews. Then, she moved to London to undertake a Master’s degree by Research in Molecular Biophysics at King’s College London (2015-2016), funded by a Fellowship to extend studies in Europe by “LaCaixa“ Foundation, during which she carried out research in immunoglobulin E structure and allostery with Prof. James McDonnell. Her interest in structural and molecular biology has also led her to undertake research projects in RNA crystallisation (Amgen Scholars Program 2014 at the Institute of Structural Biology, Helmholtz Zentrum München, supervised by Prof. Dierk Niessing) and molecular determinants of resistance to retroviruses (summer internship at Kinki University, Osaka, supervised by Prof. Masaaki Miyazawa). Outside the lab, she enjoys playing the cello in the Oxford Millenium Orchestra and playing table tennis with the university team, as well as being a part of the Working Group of SRUK/CERU’s Oxford Constituency.

Sergio Cerezo

I completed my degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Biotechnology at the University of Málaga in 2007. As an undergraduate student, I had the opportunity to participate in a small research project developing micro-propagation protocols in Paulownia sp. and be immersed in research. I completed my PhD studying the regeneration and genetic transformation of the olive tree (Olea europaea L.) at the University of Málaga in 2013. In 2016 I joined Rothamsted Research, an institute focused on agricultural sciences. As a post-doctoral researcher, I contribute to a well-established genetic improvement programme toward the development of technologies to enable gene functional analysis in willow and poplar. I joined SRUK/CERU in 2016 and became part of the Working Group of the Oxford Constituency in December 2019.

Cristina Delgado

Cristina graduated in Pharmacy at the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares in 1981 and received the Prize “Jose Lucas Gallego” from La Real Academia de Farmacia in January 1982. She joined the Department of Biochemistry to undertake research studies on the properties of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase throughout the differentiation of red blood cells. Her MPhil and a PhD were obtained in 1983 and 1986 and were awarded Prizes by the Consejo General de Colegios de Farmacia in 1984 and Real Academia de Farmacia (Premio Ascension Vidal) in 1987, respectively. During her first post-doctoral position at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School (now part of UCL), Cristina was the principal investigator in the development of new technologies for the PEGylation of proteins, liposomes and viruses which innovation led to seven patent families. In order to commercialise the technology, in 1995 Cristina, together with Drs Gillian Francis and Derek Fisher, founded PolyMASC Pharmaceuticals plc, the first biotechnology start-up in England to get the initial funding via a flotation in AIM of the London Stock Exchange. She continued her scientific career as Director of Pharmacological Research contributing to the development of the technology in the laboratory (implementing SOPs, developing scale-up, etc.) and also the strategic development of the patent portfolio to maximise commercial success. In 1999, Cristina played a pivotal role during the sale of PolyMASC to Valentis Inc, a biotech located in Burlingame, near San Francisco. After completing the successful transfer of the technology to California in 2001, Cristina has continued her scientific activity in the United Kingdom as an independent consultant in various projects for biotech companies and also as an expert witness in litigations between pharmaceutical companies.

Irene Echevarría

Irene Echeverria Altuna moved to London to study a BSc in Neuroscience at University College London (UCL) in 2014. During her time at UCL, she carried out a research project on chronic pain under Prof. Steve Hunt’s supervision. In 2017, she was awarded the la Caixa fellowship for postgraduate studies to study the Dual Master in Brain and Mind Sciences, offered by UCL, École Normale Supérieure (ENS) and Sorbonne Université. During her Master’s degree, she researched the sleeping brain under the supervision of Dr. Dan Bendor (UCL) and Dr. Sid Kouider (ENS). Since September 2019, she lives in Oxford, where she has joined the Wellcome Trust MSc + DPhil programme in Neuroscience.  During her PhD, she will be studying brain oscillations. Irene joined SRUK/CERU in 2015 as part of London Constituency’s working group. She has also worked alongside with SIEF (Sociedad de Investigadores Españoles en Francia) in Paris and is now part of the SRUK Oxford working group. Besides neuroscience, she enjoys science communication and writing.

Mercedes Regadío

Mercedes obtained her PhD on Earth Science and the Environment in the Department of Geology and Geochemistry, Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM, 2012), while she was appointed as a teaching assistant (2008-2013). During this period, she assessed the attenuation of leachate contaminants by real field clayey substrata obtained from boreholes under old landfills. Afterwards, Mercedes joined the Department of Chemistry, in the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven), where she worked as a researcher on the recovery of critical metals from industrial process residues and from low ores by solvometallurgical solvent extraction and leaching (2014-2018). Her work also addressed the challenges of current analytical techniques to measure low concentrated elements in complex matrices. Currently, she is a Marie Curie Individual Fellow working on High Attenuation Recycling Materials as sustainable barriers for waste disposal sites (HARM), in the Groundwater Protection and Restoration Group (GPRG), together with the Geotechnical Engineering Group (Geo) of the University of Sheffield, UK. Other of her professional activities are: associate editor of Heliyon Earth Science (Cell Press, ElSevier), public engagement speaker and mentorship-supervision of early stage and post-doctoral researchers.

More information:

Twitter@mregadio | Personal website

Helena Rodriguez

I graduated in Biochemistry at The University of Navarra (UNAV, Spain) in 2014. During my undergraduate, I classified for the Research Training Program in Biochemistry and Biomedicine and I did my final year in The University of Hong Kong (HKU). In 2015, I obtained an MSc in Clinical Embryology at the University of Oxford (Best Research Project award). In 2019, I obtained my DPhil (PhD) on Women’s and Reproductive Health, also at Oxford University thanks to the Rafael del Pino Postgraduate Scholarship and the Gustav Born Scholarship in Biomedical Sciences. Afterwards, I worked in this university as a postdoctoral research assistant in the OxWATCH project at the Nuffield Department of Women’s & Reproductive Health. Currently, I am a postdoctoral research scientist at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics at the University of Oxford, investigating the role of NFAT transcription factors in vasculature development during embryogenesis. My main research interests right now are vasculogenesis and the role of transcription factors on cell identity and endothelial heterogeneity. I am also still actively interested in women’s and reproductive health and extracellular vesicles. In addition, I am keen on the translation of research and public engagement. I became part of the Working Group of the Oxford Constituency of SRUK/CERU in July 2019.

Larissa Zarate

Larissa obtained a BSc in Biology at the University of Salamanca and a MSc in Human Assisted Reproduction at the Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad, where she specialised in  embryonic stem cells and genetic preimplantational diagnostic. She quickly moved from clinical to research work and earned a PhD at the University of Southampton by studying whether female mammals contain germline stem cells in their ovaries, and the possibility that they give rise to competent eggs that can be used in IVF. She is currently working at Imperial College London as Flow Cytometry Specialist, where she is applying her knowledge of stem cell phenotyping to high-speed flow cytometry analysis.

Former members

From left to right and top to bottom:
Fidel Alfaro
Alba Rodríguez
José Pedro Manzano
Carlos Fresneda
Teresa Vilanova