Skip to content

Hernando A. del Portillo (Principal Investigator)

Hernando del Portillo studied molecular aspects of parasites at the University of Georgia, USA, where he received his PhD in 1985, followed by two WHO postdoctoral trainings at the New York University Medical Centre (USA) and the Institut Pasteur (France) where he specialized in molecular biology of malaria parasites. Since then, he has pursued molecular studies in malaria to unveil the mechanisms of virulence and to develop rational control strategies.

He consolidated his independent scientific career as an Assistant/Associate Professor at the Department of Parasitology, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and as a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Molecular Biology (ZMBH), Heidelberg, Germany.

He joined ISGlobal as an ICREA Research Professor in 2007 and co-ascribed to the Institut Germans Trias i Pujol (IGTP) in 2015. He is presently the President of the Grupo Español de Investigación e Innovación en Vesículas Extracelulares (GEIVEX) and Co-Founder of Innovex Therapeutics SL, the first Spanish company using Extracellular Vesicles as vaccines against infectious diseases.

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5278-3452 

Carmen Fernandez-Becerra (Co-Principal Investigator)

Carmen Fernandez-Becerra received her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the Univ. of Granada in 1996. Later, she moved to Brazil (Univ. of Sao Paulo), where she did her first post-doctotal training, working on biological aspects of Plasmodium vivax. In 1998, she joined the ZMBH (Heidelberg) where she did her second postdoctoral stay working with Toxoplasma gondii. In 2000, she moved back to the Univ. of Sao Paulo as a Research Associated Fellow to continue her studies on P. vivax. In 2007, she joined ISGlobal’s research centre in the program of malaria and in 2007 and co-ascribed to the Institut Germans Trias i Pujol (IGTP) in 2015. She is presently a Research Associate with a focus on functional assays to understand host-parasite interactions in the human malaria caused by P. vivax and in the development of a continuous in vitro culture for this species. Recently, she has opened a new research area on the use of extracellular vesicles as novel diagnostics.

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5154-0013  

Nuria Sima (Postdoctoral Fellow)

Núria Sima Teruel is a molecular biologist with special interest for neglected tropical diseases. She completed her PhD in 2016 (PEBC-IDIBELL) for research on mammalian Sirtuins and the epigenetic control of the cell cycle. She then went for a post doc at Institut Pasteur Paris where she studied DNA repair and antigenic variation in Trypanosoma brucei.  

In 2019, she started a transversal project, with Institut Pasteur Paris and Institut Pasteur Guinea, to developed a CRISPR-based molecular tool kit for Human African Trypanosomiasis diagnosis.  

From January 2022, she is a member of the PvREX group at ISGlobal and her aim is to unveil the role of extracellular vesicles in Plasmodium vivax cryptic infections using organ-on-a-chip technology and single-cell transcriptomics.

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4097-1402

Óscar Castillo-Fernandez (Postdoctoral Fellow - PvREX - UB)

Óscar Castillo-Fernandez has a background in electronic engineering. He received his PhD in Biomedicine from the University of Barcelona (UB). He worked on the development of microfluidic devices for diagnostic at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia. In his work, Óscar used electric fields to handle and sense cells, with the idea of distinguishing cells by their morphology or their mechanical properties under flow conditions.

As a post-doc, Óscar joined the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona (IMB-CNM-CSIC), where he was involved in several projects related to bacteria detection and high volume sample processing. Developing compact and feasible systems that integrate the multiple and diverse processes required for an analytical detection on a single device. Processes like sample concentration, selectivity reactions and biosensing. During this period, he joined the EPFL where he was studying hydrogels as filtering tools.

Furthermore, Óscar was involved in two start-up initiatives, where he was dedicated to product development, prototyping and technology transfer. 

Recently, he has been working on Organ on a Chip projects, finding technical developments to integrate 3D printed scaffolds on microfluidic devices. 

In this project, Óscar Castillo-Fernandez will be in charge of the technology developments and protocols required for the Organ on a Chip platform. This includes the design, fabrication and validation of the microchip devices and the development of the complete bioreactor platform integrating the different cell environments. 

In this project, Óscar Castillo-Fernandez will be in charge of the technology developments and protocols required for the Organ on a Chip platform. This includes the design, fabrication, characterization and validation of the microchip devices and tools designed to generate all the developments required to accomplish a bioreactor platform integrating the different cell environments and blood circulation.  

Currently, he is attached to the Condensed Matter Physics Department at the University of Barcelona in Professor Aurora Hernandez-Machado’s group. Thanks to Aurora’s experience on theoretical models and blood circulation on microfluidic devices, we will work on the development of different characterization tools to understand the mechanical properties of hydrogels and blood behaviour in a microfluidic environment.

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8719-7034 

 

Alberto Ayllon Hermida (Predoctoral Fellow)

Alberto is graduated in Microbiology by the Autonomous University of Barcelona. After that, he obtained a MSc in Clinical Research in International Health at the University of Barcelona where he started his research career in the field of molecular biology, genetics and transcriptomics at the Plasmodium Vivax and Exosomes Research Group (PvREX), working particularly in the functional characterization of preferentially expressed genes in the bone marrow during acute malaria infection. He has been recently accepted in the PhD programme of Medicine and Translational Research at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Barcelona and he will be researching at our group. 

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9566-6934

www.linkedin.com/in/alberto-ayllón-hermida-9b126912b

Marc Nicolau i Fernández (Technical Fellow)

Marc Nicolau i Fernández obtained the CFGS on clinical diagnostic laboratory at Institut La Guineueta, in Barcelona in 2015. He carried out the practical program in a microbiology laboratory in Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) for 4 months. From October 2015, he has been working as a laboratory technician in the Malaria Vivax and Exosomes group at Institut Germans Tries I Pujol (Badalona). During this time, he has been focused on in vitro malaria culture., obtention and characterization of extracellular vesicles while doing functions of lab managing. He is interested in learning more about parasitology, extracellular vesicles and new techniques to develop his scientific career.

VISITING SCIENTISTS

Bárbara Teixeira  (Predoctoral Fellow IMM)

Bárbara graduated in Biochemistry at the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (Vila Real, Portugal). She then moved to Coimbra, where she obtained an MSc in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. Her research career started during her Master’s studies at the Microbial and Molecular Biotechnology Group, led by Dr Isaura Simões. There, she worked with an aspartic protease from Rickettsia conorii (APRc), namely aiming to clarify the autoprocessing and function of this rickettsial protease in mammalian cells. Barbara has been recently accepted at the Lisbon Biomedical and Clinical Research PhD Program (LisbonBioMed) at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon. Her PhD project which aims at detecting and diagnosing the liver stage of Plasmodium infection using extracellular vesicles, is being supervised by Dr Hernando del Portillo as well as Dr Maria M. Mota and Dr Miguel Prudêncio from the Instituto de Medicina Molecular – João Lobo Antunes (iMM, Lisbon, Portugal).  

FORMER MEMBERS

Núria Cortés Serra (Predoctoral Fellow)

Núria Cortés Serra graduated in Biochemistry and Pharmacy in the University of Barcelona. At the same university, she studied the “Master of Clinical Research: International Health Track”. Her master’s thesis, performed at ISGlobal under the supervision of Dr Juan Bustamante, was on new diagnostic methods for Chagas disease. After finishing the Master Degree, she was awarded a grant from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) to perform research in the field. She went to Bolivia, where she worked in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Bolivian Ministry of Health coordinating the project “Strengthening Bolivian Pharmacovigilance system: new therapeutic strategies to improve health of Chagas Disease and Tuberculosis patients”. After finishing the project, she joined the Chagas Initiative of ISGlobal team. Currently, she is a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Carmen Fernández and Dr. Maria Jesús Pinazo. Her PhD project aims to find potential biomarker candidates for the evaluation of therapeutic response and disease outcome in chronic Chagas Disease using extracellular vesicles.  

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5396-3757

Iris Aparici Herraiz (Predoctoral Fellow)

Iris Aparici Herraiz graduated in Microbiology at Autonomous University of Barcelona in 2015. As an undergraduate student she did an internship in Microbiological Analysis Service at the Hospital Universitari de la Vall d’Hebron (Barcelona) in 2014. Her interest in immunology led her to study the MSc in Advanced Immunology at University of Barcelona in 2016. On her master thesis she studied the role of MDA5 promoter in Aicardi-Goutières syndrome. Currently, she is a student in the Medicine and Translational Research PhD Program at University of Barcelona. Her PhD thesis aims to demonstrate that reticulocyte-derived exosomes (REX) from infections mediate signalling mechanisms between the bone marrow and the spleen to compensate from bone marrow anaemia through extramedullar haematopoiesis. 

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6014-8221 

linkedin.com/in/iris-aparici-herraiz-029432101

Melisa Gualdrón López

Melisa Gualdrón-López is a molecular parasitologist interested in Neglected Tropical Diseases. During her career she has specialized in the study of Trypanosomatid parasites: Leishmania mexicana (parasite responsible for cutaneous Leishmaniasis in the New World), Trypanosoma brucei, the etiologic agent of human Sleeping Sickness in Africa and T. cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas Disease. Her research has focused in understanding the parasites energy metabolism with the objective of identifying chemotherapeutic targets. She is also interested in host-parasite interactions and in the immune response mechanisms that fight infections caused by Malaria parasites. In 2016, she joined the PVREX group to study extracellular vesicles derived from Plasmodium vivax humanized mice models aiming to identify potential biomarkers of latent liver infections. 

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8202-6751

https://www.linkedin.com/in/melisa-gualdr%C3%B3n-l%C3%B3pez-588116181/

Dulce Torres (Masters student)

Dulce graduated in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Barcelona. She is currently studying an MSc in Clinical Research in International Health at ISGlobal & the University of Barcelona in order to complement her undergraduate studies with a more global view of health. Her interests focus on research related to infectious diseases affecting low and middle income countries. She is doing her Master’s internship at the PVREX group on extracellular vesicles as biomarkers of severity in malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum.

Deborah Ekome (Masters Student)

Deborah graduated in Biochemistry at the University of Barcelona. She is currently undertaking an MSc in Clinical Research, specializing International Health at ISGlobal and the University of Barcelona. She has recently joined the PVREX Group to do her Master’s final project, where she is working on PvLDH and its correlation with extracellular vesicules in Plasmodium vivax. Her interest focuses on infectious diseases in low to middle income countries. 

Pia Dernick (ERASMUS student - Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)

Pia Dernick is currently in her last year of her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, where she developed a great interest in parasitology and especially in studying malaria. She has recently joined the PVREX group to do her Bachelor’s project, where she is working with transgenic Plasmodium falciparum in order to study the role of exosomes in cryptic niches in bone marrow and spleen. She is interested in learning more about infectious diseases, malaria and gaining insight into working in a molecular biology laboratory.

COLLABORATORS

National

Javier Martinez-Picado, IrsiCaixa

Aurora Hernandez-Machado, Physics, University of Barcelona 

Ricardo Lauzurica, Maria Comas, Ines Velasco Lopez, Pedro Luis Fernandez Ruiz, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol 

Alfred Cortés, ISGlobal

Marco Fernandez, Sara Capdevila, Maria Pilar Armengol and Lauro Sumoy, Institut Germans Trias i Pujol 

Eduard Sabidó and Eva Borrás, Proteomics Unit, University Pompeu Fabra

Maria calvo, Imaging Unit, IDIBAPS, Hospital Clinic

International

Cristina Barrias – i3S Institute, Porto, Portugal

Carole Schaefer and Stefan Kappe – Chimeric humanized mouse models, CIDR Children´s Hospital, Seattle, USA 

Maria Fernanda Yasnot, Universidad de Córdoba, and Jaime Carmona Fonseca, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia, Marcus VG Lacerda and Wuelton Monteiro, FMT-HVD Manaus, Brazil

Wanlapa Roobsoong and Jetsumon Pramunsri, Mahidol Vivax Research Unit, Bangkok, Thailand