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Advanced Scientific Research Center

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New addition to CICA's science communication and outreach department

29/Sep/2022 Disclosure Coordinación Gestión

The communication and popularization of science constitute the set of initiatives that make culture, thought and scientific knowledge accessible to the general public through the use of the most varied strategies and always with a language understandable to a non-specialized public. It has a great social importance and allows in some way to complete the process of acquiring new knowledge that we carry out in research centers. Science without its communication is only half of the process (both to specialized and general public). As Ignacio López-Goñi, Professor of Microbiology and great communicator, says "Science that does not count, does not count". 

That is why we at CICA are pleased to welcome our new science communication and popularization technician, Dr. Oscar Huertas Rosales, to the center.

Oscar holds a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Granada and two Master's degrees, one in Agroforestry Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Madrid and another in Scientific Culture from the Public University of Navarra and the University of the Basque Country. He completed a UNESCO international course in soil science, soil fertility and plant biology. He did his PhD in microbiology at the Experimental Station of Zaidín - CSIC and later created the communication and dissemination company LANIAKEA Management and Communication SL. 

His doctoral thesis dealt with the study of the lifestyle of the bacterium Pseudomonas putida, considered PGPR in cultures. In particular, their ability to form biofilms together with their metabolic versatility makes these bacteria interesting candidates to help in the degradation of toxic substances polluting the soil. The published papers deal with the genetic regulation of Rsm proteins, versatile post-transcriptional regulators of a large plethora of genes involved in a wide range of metabolic and cell maintenance processes.  

He is currently on the board of directors of the Spanish Association of Scientific Communication as its Treasurer, is a member of Hablando de Ciencia (HdC), of the Society for the Advancement of Critical Thinking (ARP-SAPC) and since recently of the Galician Association of Scientific and Technological Culture Communication, better known as Divulgacción. 

He has been part of the organization of dozens of events such as Pint of Science, Desgranando Ciencia, La semana de la Ciencia, Granada Ciudad de la Ciencia, la Noche Europea de los Investigadores, several scientific and popular science congresses, among others. 

She has extensive experience in teaching science communication and as a speaker at dozens of events and conferences. 

She replaces our colleague, from whom we bid farewell with much affection, Gema Valera, who has devoted more than two and a half years of hard work and dedication to our center. THANK YOU.

In CICA we participate and organize various outreach activities throughout the year (the European night of researchers, the day of Science in Rúa, various science fairs, open days, reception of visits from primary, secondary and vocational school children) as well as communication events to professionals and the sector (Biodays, transfer days, seminars and conferences, conferences, PhD follow-up days, happy hour with our young researchers, etc).


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The night is dark an full of wonders

28/Sep/2022 Disclosure BIOCOST GRICA

In the famous series Game of Thrones, the priestess of the god R'hllor and Stannis Baratheon's closest advisor coined the well-known phrase "The night is dark and full of terrors". She said that because she did not know the most awaited night of the year, the European Night of Researchers. 

Creative consciences is the motto of dozens of activities being held throughout Galicia in the 7 participating cities (A Coruña, Ferrol, Lugo, Ourense, Pontevedra, Santiago and Vigo). About 150 researchers from the campuses of A Coruña and Ferrol are taking part in an event coordinated by the University of Vigo, with the participation of more than a dozen universities, research centers and institutes that will take science to the streets, museums, squares and bars. 

In this tenth anniversary the CICA center joins with two activities that you can enjoy this Friday 30th. 

GUIDED TOUR: Lakes as sentinels of environmental change. The case of Doniños Lake

The members of the group GRICA Roberto Bao, Luisa Santos, Armand Hernández and Rafael Carballeira will make two guided tours (at 10:00h and 17:00h) from Ferrol. The meeting point will be the Study Support Building of the Ferrol Campus of the University of A Coruña. 

All information and registration link on the website of the G.Night

Lakes are unique elements of the landscape, very abundant in some parts of the world, but very scarce in Galicia. They are very sensitive ecosystems to environmental changes. Any modification that occurs, whether natural or man-made, will have an impact on them. Some of these changes may be local in nature (a source of pollution) or global (a change in climate), but they will almost always produce a change in the characteristics of the lake. The information about how these changes were in the past is contained in the sediments, which constitute the memory of the events that occurred in the life of the lakes.

In this activity we intend to make the public aware of the importance of the study of lakes for the knowledge of the environmental changes that occurred in the past, and how this knowledge can be used to better manage our future. We will show the participants how scientists study the Doniños lake, the largest lake in Galicia, both to know its current characteristics, and to reconstruct its evolution over a fascinating history over the last 10,000 years.

WORKSHOP IN PLAZA MARÍA PITA: Workshop - Come to taste, texturize and investigate the seaweed

BIOCOST group members Javier Cremades, Ignacio Moreu, Patricia Rubio and Érika García will conduct workshops on seaweed in the Plaza de María Pita in A Coruña, between 18:00h and 21:00h. 

All the information about the workshop on the G.Night website (access is free). 

During the workshop the different seaweeds of the Galician coast will be presented together with their particularities and possible uses. In the same workshop the different types of species and their function in the marine ecosystem will be presented. 

The research group mainly develops methods of evaluation, sustainable management and cultivation of different species of marine macroalgae of industrial interest. It also develops and applies techniques for environmental biomonitoring of the marine environment through the use of invertebrates and benthic macroalgae. This group maintains regular contacts with the regional and central administration for advisory tasks in aspects related to (i) the application of marine agronomy in Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture techniques (AMTI) and (ii) the presence of marine allochthonous species in Galician coasts. 


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Human Interactome: the facebook of molecules. Article of the EXPRELA group in The Conversation

28/Sep/2022 Disclosure EXPRELA

On May 31, María Esperanza Cerdán Villanueva, coordinator of the EXPRELA Group from CICA, published an interesting article in The Conversation, together with Aida Barreiro, assistant professor PhD, Ángel José Vizoso, assistant professor PhD and Mónica Lamas, full university professor, all from the University of A Coruña. 

The article highlights the importance of the study of the diverse and extensive "omics". A suffix used to refer to the study of the whole or the whole of something, such as genes (Genomics), proteins (Proteomics) or as in this case, the interactions between molecules - INTERACTOMICS-.

In molecules, as in our lives, it matters who we are and what we do, but also how we relate to others. Everything around us depends to a large extent on interactions: social networks, artificial intelligence, the balance of the stars in the universe, the existence of living beings and our own health. 

The interactome tells us precisely that: about relationships and contacts, but between molecules. To fulfill their task, the molecules present in cells contact each other in processes that are sometimes fast, sometimes slow and sometimes permanent. Metabolic reactions require interactions. The same is true for gene expression, hormone response, nerve impulse transmission, immune response and many other intracellular or intercellular processes. 

These molecular interactions can be established in pairs (binary), but most involve and involve large complexes in which many molecules participate. These complexes ensure the binding of some cells to others in tissues, in addition to controlling cell growth, differentiation or division. 

We could say that life exists in interaction of our molecules with our own molecules, but also with the environment, with drugs or with pollutants. But to know more, you should go in and read the article in The Conversation

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The researcher Jesús Mosquera of the CICA of the UDC tests logic in a paper published in Science

22/Jul/2022 Coordinación

On 8 July, Jesús Mosquera, Ramón y Cajal researcher in the NanoSelf group at the CICA of the Universidade da Coruña (UDC), published an article in Science, one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals.

The work published in collaboration with the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) describes a chemical phenomenon that has never been observed before and that, in a way, exceeds the limits of reason. The researchers have discovered that by adding more water to an aqueous solution of certain components (sol), the mixture surprisingly turns into a solid state (gel).

This is a completely unexpected result, as one would expect that the more solvent added, the more liquid the mixture becomes. However, the researchers have shown that this may not be the case, and have called this phenomenon the "sol-gel transition", as there is a transformation from one state to another. "We basically break the myth that dilution leads to less interaction between molecules and therefore to a more liquid state, where the molecules are diluted. In this work, we find a nice example of the opposite due to the interaction between two [supra]molecular systems with completely different chemical structures," explains Mosquera.

The term supramolecular refers to molecules capable of interacting with themselves and with other molecules to form complexes by means of reversible weak bonds. In our cells, these molecular complexes play fundamental roles for survival, such as cell division and DNA replication. Thus, this mechanism of interaction, at first sight counter-intuitive, could explain certain phenomena that occur naturally in our organism. For example, it is known that there are membraneless organelles that regulate vital processes in the cell, such as Cajal bodies or stress granules. How they are formed or how they are diluted are unanswered questions, and the in vitro discovery of this phenomenon could be key to understanding these biomolecular condensates.

As often happens in research, some experiments lead to unsuspected ones, and the authors of the study, Jesús Mosquera and his colleague Lu Su, made this observation by chance. "We were evaluating the interaction between two units typically used in supramolecular chemistry when we came across this phenomenon," says Mosquera.

About CICA:

The CICA is the Interdisciplinary Centre for Chemistry and Biology created at the University of A Coruña in 2015. It has more than 150 researchers organised in three scientific areas ranging from biomedicine to materials science. Research excellence, technology transfer and the transmission of knowledge to society form the three pillars on which the research centre is based. It is recognised for its attraction of talent, the visibility of women scientists and the promotion of gender equality, with a female presence of more than 50%.

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Juan Bermúdez and Juan Fafián will consolidate their scientific careers thanks to the Ramón y Cajal grants

11/Jul/2022 People TCMR QUIMOLMAT

Last week the 2021 call for applications for Ramón y Cajal grants from the State Research Agency was provisionally resolved. A call that announced in January this year a budget of almost 153 million euros.

Of the 647 grants awarded, 2 are coming to CICA with researchers Juan Bermúdez from the QUIMOLMAT-Materiales group and Juan Fafián from TCMR.

Bermúdez has obtained his grant in the area of <<Materials Sciences and Technologies>>. The title of the research line he will develop at CICA is "Hybrid materials for eco-friendly refrigeration, heating and energy storage". A topic on which they have already published several articles in renowned scientific journals and thanks to which they are gaining a lot of visibility.

For his part, Fafián has made it in the area of <<Biosciences and biotechnology>> with a line entitled "Undiscovered molecular and cellular mechanisms in paracrine senescence through small extracellular vesicles". A current topic of growing impact that will be one of the central themes of the conference organised by the researcher between 18 and 20 July in A Coruña: CAMS2022.

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More than 30 CICA researchers meet at the RSEQ biennial in Granada

30/Jun/2022 Events Coordinación QUIMOLMAT REACT!

From 27 to 30 June, one of the most eagerly awaited congresses for the Spanish chemistry community was held in Granada: the Bienal of the Royal Spanish Society of Chemistry (RSEQ).

After the 2020 edition, which had to be held virtually, the XXXVIII edition, with its return to face-to-face attendance, has been a resounding success. More than a thousand researchers in the field of chemistry have travelled to Granada, beating the attendance record. Among them, the representation of CICA has been very significant: thirty researchers from 9 groups: REACT!-IMMO, QUIMOLMAT QUIMBIO, PRONAMAR, SUPRA, SynCatMeth, Materiales, NanoSelf, BioMemChem and BioMedNano.

Not only the Bienal has counted with our researchers as attendees, but as a group the number of communications amount to 3 talks, 5 flash presentations and 15 posters. In addition, not only the number of scientific papers that have been exposed has been very significant, but the quality of these has also been awarded. Paula Novo won one of the prizes for the best flash presentation, and Charlene Harriswangler for the best poster. It couldn't have gone better.

Finally, it should be noted that researcher Elena Pazos and researcher Carlos Jiménez were also chairs of sessions 7 (Chemical Tools for Chemical Biology) and 15 (Natural products: Identification and production) respectively.

List of talks, flash presentations and posters presented:

TALKS:

  1. Carlos Platas: Prediction of Gd(III) and Mn(II) Complex Thermodynamics Stability (s07 28/06)
  2. Paco Fernández Trillo: Supramolecular Chemistry and Nanotechnology for Biological Applications (s07 30/06)
  3. Lucía Ageitos: Siderophores Produced by the Pathogenic Bacterium Tenacibaculum maritimum (s15 30/06)

FLASH PRESENTATIONS:

  1. Juan Manuel Bermúdez: Hybrid organic-inorganic thermomaterials for barocaloric refrigeration and solar energy storage (s03 27/06)
  2. Paula Novo: Control Over DNA Recognition with a Cucurbit[8]Uril-based Supramolecular 4,4′-Bipyridinium-peptide dimer (s07 28/06)
  3. Fátima Lucio: A Rigidified Derivative of the Non-Macrocyclic Ligand H4OCTAPA for Stable Lanthanide(III) Complexation (s07 29/06)
  4. Jesús Mosquera: Supramolecular copolymers through the combination of supramolecular monomers and surfactants (s11 30/06)
  5. Ana da Lama Vázquez: Synthesis, Structural Analysis and Chemosensory Ability of Fluorescent Imidazole-Triazole based ligands for 3D divalent metal ions (s01 30/06)

POSTERS:

  1. Pablo Cortón: Preparation of Pseudo[1]Rotaxanes Through Functionalization of Pyridinium-based Macrocyclic Hosts (29/06)
  2. Ignacio Delgado: [(CH3)3NOH]2MnCl4, a novel plastic crystal with phase transition and multifunctional properties (29/06)
  3. Javier García Ben: A Tolerance Factor Adaptation to Dicyanamide Perovskites (29/06)
  4. Fabio Seoane: Indium(III)-Catalyzed Synthesis of 1H-Isochromenes and Dihydroisoquinolines by Intramolecular Hydrofunctionalization of O-Alkynyl Benzyl Derivatives (29/06)
  5. Iago Neira: CB[7,8]-based [2]-rotaxanes with triphenylphosphonium-capped threads: Serendipitous discovery of a new high-affinity binding motif (29/06)
  6. Liliana Barravecchia: Amino Acid-viologen Hybrids: Synthesis, Cucurbituril Host-Guest Chemistry, and Implementation on the Production of Peptides (29/06)
  7. Raquel Pérez Guevara: Indium-Catalyzed Synthesis of Benzannulated Spiroketals by Double Hydroalkoxylation of Alkinyldiols (29/06)
  8. Rosalía Sánchez-Fernández: Design Of A Nitrooxidative Stress Sensor Based On Lanthanide Coordination Chemistry (30/06)
  9. Charlene Harriswangler: A Versatile Macrocyclic Platform for Complexation of  natY(III)/90Y(III) and the Lanthanide(III) Ions (30/06)
  10. Rocío Uzal: Rigid versions of PDTA4- incorporating a 1,3-diaminocyclobutyl spacer for Mn2+ and Fe3+ complexation: stability, water exchange dynamics, and relaxivity (30/06)
  11. Sandra Baúlde: Molecular self-assembly for the synthesis of chiral plasmonic nanoparticles (30/06)
  12. Alejandro Criado: Graphene-based Human Receptor Field-effect Transistor Microarray for Virus Detection (30/06)
  13. Abel Mateo Forero: Bioactive Compounds Isolated of the Sponge Agelas citrina From the Yucatan Peninsula (30/06)
  14. Carlos Jiménez: Stereoselective Total Synthesis of the Siderophore Piscibactin-ga3+ Complex and Some Modified Analogues (30/06)
  15. Jaime Rodríguez: Synthesis of Fluorescent Probes Based on the Siderophore Amonabactins produced by Aeromonas salmonicida subsp salmonicida (30/06)
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CICA of the UDC participates for the first time in a mentoring program for young Roma of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano

21/Jun/2022 Disclosure REACT!

CICA, Interdisciplinary Center of Chemistry and Biology of the University of A Coruña, has just promoted an agreement between the University and the Fundación Secretariado Gitano. Through this agreement, researchers and academics will be able to participate as mentors of young Roma within the PROMOCIONA Program of the Foundation.

This program aims to reduce the school dropout rate of the Roma community in compulsory education, which is currently around 65%. In addition, they support young people in pursuing post-compulsory education to increase their chances of entering the labor market. A fundamental part of the program is the actions taken to involve the participants' families in the educational process.

CICA supports the Foundation's commitment to education as a transformative tool for eradicating social discrimination, and materializes it with this agreement. As a starting point, the pre-doctoral researcher, Charlene Harriswangler, has tutored one of the female students in the program, Antonia Gabarri Jiménez, whom she has advised and introduced to the daily tasks of a laboratory.

The 4th grade student expressed her preference for the Applied Sciences subject during the mentoring activity, ''because it is related to the rules for working in a laboratory and I learn issues related to chemistry''. She and the researcher explored together the different possibilities she has to work as a Laboratory Technician, a profession that now, after her time in the REACT!-IMMO group at CICA, it is clear that she wants to perform.

The researcher highlights the importance of mentoring in this educational stage and recommends other researchers to participate in the program: ''it is very rewarding that someone finds your work interesting'' says Charlene, ''explaining the research I do at a more general level has been a very enriching experience''.

CICA is the Interdisciplinary Center of Chemistry and Biology created at the University of A Coruña in 2015. It has more than 150 researchers organized in three scientific areas: i) Biomedicine, ii) Food, Pollution and Health and iii) Nanoscience and Advanced Materials. Research excellence, technology transfer and the transmission of knowledge to society form the three pillars on which the research center is based. It is recognized for attracting talent, the visibility of women scientists and the promotion of gender equality, with a female presence of more than 50%.

Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) is an intercultural social entity that has been working for 40 years for the promotion and equal opportunities of the Roma population in Spain and in the European context. It develops programs and services to defend the rights of Roma people mainly in the fields of employment, education, health and housing, and its work is also aimed at promoting more active policies for the social inclusion of the Roma population, fighting against discrimination and guaranteeing equality for all people.

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Manuel López Vicente will co-edit a special issue of the open access journal "Water"

13/Jun/2022 Research AQUATERRA

The researcher Manuel López Vicente from AQUATERRA group has been invited to edit the next issue "Advances in Forest Hydrology and Biogeochemistry" of the open access journal "Water".

Forest hydrology" is key in the water cycle, and "biogeochemistry" is a very important discipline that deals with the biotic control of the chemistry of the environment, or with the geochemical control of the structure and function of ecosystems. Both disciplines are interconnected and continuously evolving. We have more knowledge than ever before about the transport of water, soil, nutrients and inorganic solutes in different types of forests, but their relationship to some of the major challenges we face, such as climate and environmental change, demands even more research. New methods, such as the use of isotopes or models, are expected to enhance the acquisition of knowledge in these research fields.

 "Water", with a citescore of 3.7, invites all researchers studying topics related to forest hydrology and biogeochemistry to submit their manuscripts to www.mdpi.com by February 28, 2023.

Full information about the special issue of the journal and the call for papers can be found HERE.

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Nine CICA researchers are among the best in Spain

09/Jun/2022 Research EXPRELA BIOENGIN QUIMOLMAT Coordinación DICOMOSA TCMR

The Ranking web of universities (webometrics) has just published the first edition of a ranking of female researchers, Spanish and foreigners, making their scientific careers in Spain. The list is a selection of the 5000 best, ordered by h-index as the first criterion, and then by the number of citations. The data used are those published in Google Scholar.

Based on this classification, a total of 9 CICA researchers have been included in the list as follows:

Among the top 1000 are Mª Carmen Veiga (h=48) from BIOENGIN, Josefina Méndez (h=47) from NanoToxGen and Blanca Laffon (h=46) from DICOMOSA.

If we widen the search to the best 2000, we also find Tona Señaris (h=32) from QUIMOLMAT Materiales and Vanessa Valdiglesias (h=31) from NanoToxGen.

We complete the search with 4 researchers considered to be among the top 3000. Here we find Ana Rey (h=29) from TCMR, Isabel González (h=27) from EXPRELA, Socorro Castro (h=26) from QUIMOLMAT Materiales and Silvia Díaz (h=26) from TCMR.

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Researchers from CICA of the UDC and their partners of the European project Life in Common Land travel to the Basque Country to establish links with their analogues of LIFE Oreka Mendian

02/Jun/2022 CICA-Science BIOCOST

The second meeting between the participants of the European projects LIFE in Common Land and LIFE Oreka Mendian took place in the Basque Country from 23 to 25 May. Both the Galician and Basque initiatives are co-financed by the European Union's LIFE Programme, whose main objective is to "protect, conserve and improve Europe's natural capital".

The Basque hosts guided the visitors through three Red Natura 2000 sites: the Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park, the Entzia SAC, and the Gorbeia Natural Park. The visit allowed them to learn first-hand about the management and conservation practices used in these mountain pastures. In addition to researchers and technicians from the UDC and USC, representatives from eight of the eleven Communities of Forestry collaborating in the Galician project attended(A Balsa, Cadramón, Frexulfe, Laxa Moura, Miñotos, Montoutoto, Santo Tomé de Recaré, and Vilacampa).

In a previous meeting, the LIFE in Common Land participants informed their counterparts from the Basque Country about their working methods in the Serra do Xistral (Lugo), the natural area where the project is being carried out, to conserve heathland and peat bogs, and the importance of wild horses for this purpose.

The aim of these exchanges is to get to know another way of managing livestock and the territory, learning from each other lessons that can be applied on a day-to-day basis, always adapting them to the environmental and administrative particularities of each area. Laura Lagos, a researcher in the BIOCOST group at the CICA of the UDC and a participant in the LIFE in Common Land project, believes that "the reciprocal learning that these trips have entailed can be translated into advances for both projects in habitat management, conservation, and restoration actions".

The researcher highlights the spirit of pride shared by community members and farmers in "maintaining traditional activities on which the conservation of habitats protected at European level depends". She is surprised to see that certain traditions still survive, such as "taking the herds up the mountain in summer, with the whole shepherd's family moving to the "txabola" or "borda" (shack in English).

The LIFE in Common Land Project began in 2017, promoted by the Deputation of Lugo and supported by the USC and the UDC, whose participation is coordinated by Jaime Fagúndez from the BIOCOST group of the CICA. Its main objective is the conservation of priority habitats in the Serra do Xistral Natura Network area, an area of great ecological value affected by the abandonment of traditional land uses, the degradation of habitats linked to human activity and climate change, among other reasons.

CICA (Centro Interdisciplinar de Química e Bioloxía) was promoted by the University of A Coruña in 2015. It has more than 150 researchers organised into three scientific areas: i) Biomedicine, ii) Food, Pollution and Health and iii) Nanoscience and Advanced Materials. Research excellence, technology transfer and the transmission of knowledge to society form the three pillars on which the research centre is based. Proof of this are the projects shared with companies and the large number of dissemination actions carried out. The attraction of talent, the visibility of women scientists and gender equality are among its objectives, with a female presence of more than 50%.