César de la Fuente, principal investigator of the Machine Biology Group at the University of Pennsylvania and member of our External Committee, has received the Princess of Girona Award in the Research category.
These famous awards are aimed at researchers under 35 years of age <<who stand out for their work, their merits and their exemplarity>> and there are 3 other categories besides research: arts and letters, business and social.
In this case, the jury highlighted César's leadership and excellent career in the field of computational biology and, <<especially, for combining extraordinary scientific productivity with a developed technology transfer capacity>>. In the 2021 edition, the researcher has competed with nine other nominees.
These are being excellent years for the researcher, who was already in the news in January for the prototype COVID19 detection test he is developing in his laboratory in Pennsylvania. In this link you can access the conference he gave us in July last year, when he explained in detail how he used biocomputing for the development of new antibiotics, his main line of research.
Original article in Agencia EFE, 29/04/2021Image from La Opinión A Coruña
Jaime Rodriguez, director of CICA and coordinator of the CICA-INIBIC Strategic Group, presented yesterday the results obtained during the year 2020. He took the opportunity to announce the end of a stage, which closes with the dissolution of the strategic group, with which he was grateful for the common benefit that this relationship has meant for both.
The day was divided into two parts:
In the first, as in other years, Jaime Rodríguez presented the main indicators of the group, highlighting, among others, those referring to publications and citations. He then made a comparative analysis of these indicators with respect to other research centers.
The results indicate an increase in the use of CICA affiliation when publishing, despite the fact that the health crisis has had an impact on scientific production. Finally, he highlighted the great effort made to attract talent in 2020, thanks to which we have obtained 12 grants through different calls (Ramón y Cajal, Beatriz Galindo, Talento de la Xunta and JIN).
In the second part of the day, Jaime expressed the commitment of the UDC for the accreditation of the CICA as a research center of the Galician University System (SUG), and took the opportunity to explain in detail the procedure we face to present ourselves in the next call of the Xunta de Galicia.
The Incrúst@te project, the main science outreach programme for secondary and high school students at the Centre for Scientific Advanced Research (CICA) of the University of A Coruña (UDC), has been included in a catalogue of best practices for the promotion of scientific, technological and innovation culture.
The Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) has just published the eighth edition of this catalogue, which brings together the 15 best innovative practices presented in 2017 to the call for grants, for the promotion of scientific, technological and innovation culture. In this call, the FECYT received a total of 645 applications, of which 205 ended up being funded, Incrúst@te among them. The aim of the catalogue, as described in the prologue, <<is to highlight the quality of the projects funded, as well as to serve as inspiration for those who want to launch activities to disseminate science and innovation>>. The FECYT has developed the DIVULGATECA platform to consult the data sheets of all funded projects: https://www.divulgateca.es/.
What is Incrúst@te?
The Incrúst@te project was created in 2017 with the aim of introducing secondary school students to a career in research through a series of visits and short stays, where young people come into contact with CICA researchers. Each year, the research centre receives an average of 250 students aged between 14 and 17. During the visit, they get to know the dynamics of working in a research centre, and in particular the lines developed at CICA. In the next phase, 16 students are selected for a short stay in one of the research groups, which culminates in the preparation of a poster and participation in their first scientific congress. In the last phase of the Incrúst@te project, the 4 best students, selected on the basis of the results of their first stay and the scientific interest shown, carry out a second stay of 2 weeks to develop their own research project.
Many Galician schools have already participated in the Incrúst@te Project, which has managed to establish itself as a highly demanded activity by secondary school students in the province of A Coruña. Information for teachers can be found on the project website: https://cica.udc.gal/es/proyecto-incrustate.
Incrúst@te was carried out in collaboration with the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) - Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities in 2017 and 2018, through two consecutive grants for the promotion of scientific, technological and innovation culture. The project was continued in 2019 thanks to funding from the Xunta de Galicia.
The Environment Office of the Universidade da Coruña has published the second edition of the book "Premio UDC sustentabilidade a traballos fin de grao e mestrado 2019".
This new volume brings together the 8 final degree and master's theses carried out in 2019, which were awarded based on the scientific-technical quality of the work, originality and suitability to the theme of sustainability and the environment. Three of them were carried out in our research groups, as we announced in June last year:
The researcher of the QUIMOLMAT group, Carlos Jiménez, has just been appointed review editor in the open access journals “Frontiers in Marine Science” and “Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology”.
"Frontiers in Marine Science", with a JCR of 3.661 (Q1D1), promotes knowledge of all environmental and biological aspects, as well as the functioning of marine ecosystems and human interactions with the ocean. The researcher will edit articles focused on marine biotechnology.
On the other hand, "Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology", with a JCR of 3,644 (Q2), aims to become a forum where the connection between the discoveries made by basic science and their clinical application takes place.
Carlos Jimenez's profile in Frontiers
The QUIMOLMAT group's article "Reversible Control of DNA Binding with Cucurbituril-Induced Supramolecular 4,4′-Bipyridinium-Peptide Dimers" gets the cover of the March volume of the journal Bioconjugate Chemistry (JCR2019 = 4,031).
Many cellular processes in living organisms are mediated by complex regulatory networks based on non-covalent interactions between a relatively small number of proteins. These proteins perform their function by exchanging their state between homo- and hetero-oligomeric assemblies or mono- and bivalent states.
In this work, the researchers show that 4,4`-bipyridinium units connected to the basic region of the GCN4 bZip transcription factor can be used to control conjugate dimerization by forming a supramolecular complex with cucurbituryl. This supramolecular complex is able to selectively recognize its target in double-stranded DNA and its binding can be reversible by the application of an external stimulus, e.g. a pH change.
Transcription factors are proteins responsible for the main control mechanism of gene transcription in eukaryotic cells, activating or inhibiting gene expression. Therefore, a malfunction of these mechanisms has serious consequences such as the appearance of diseases including cancer. A deeper understanding of these mechanisms and their modulation can contribute to the treatment of these diseases.
The cover image illustrates the molecular complex formed by a 4,4'-bipyridinium dimer connected to the GCN4 bZip transcription factor and a cucurbituryl supramolecule. This complex appears reversibly bound to a DNA double strand.
The article in Bioconjugate Chemistry, 2021, 32, 3, 507-511.The cover can be found HERE
Javier Cremades, a researcher from BIOCOST group, works with macroalgae, aquatic organisms which, like microalgae, are receiving increasing attention from the European Commission. The reason is the enormous versatility they offer, from the food industry to their use as biofuels, the pharmaceutical industry or as bioremediators.
For World Water Day, 22 March, the researcher was interviewed along with other algae experts, with the aim of pointing out some of the benefits of promoting the use of algae, as well as the major obstacles encountered by those who want to research and develop their applications.
Cremades assures that both types of algae <<have a great projection in the food industry, both for direct consumption and by incorporating them as an ingredient in the preparation of other products>>. However, for their exploitation to be sustainable, it will be necessary to cultivate them in marine farms.
The disadvantages, according to the researcher, are, firstly, that <<administrative procedures act as a bottleneck>>, it would take a company up to two years to start a pilot project. And secondly, he points out, that specific legislation should be drafted for harvesting algae and not use the same legislation that exists for shellfish.
All the experts consulted predict a bright future for both micro and macroalgae in the Spanish industry, but agree that more economic and human resources will have to be devoted to making it a profitable and sustainable resource.
The full article in ABC, 22/03/2021, María José Pérez-Barco.
Image from ABC
The list of researchers with the highest impact in the world was published at the end of last year in the article "Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators" in the journal PLOS BIOLOGY. In this work carried out by Stanford University, SciTech Strategies and Elsevier, parameters such as the number of total publications or citations were taken into account.
As a novelty compared to previous years, in addition to the 100,000 researchers with the highest standardized citation indicators, the study includes researchers who are in the top 2% of their disciplines (totaling almost 60,000 more).
In this total of 160,000 names, 2,291 are Spanish researchers and 6 belong to the UDC. Three of these are CICA researchers: Christian Kennes, researcher of the BIOENGIN group, with 157 publications. María Isabel González Siso, deputy director of CICA and researcher of the EXPRELA group with 99 publications. Carlos Platas Iglesias, researcher of the REACT! group, with 233 publications. The other three are Francisco José Blanco of the GIR group, Germán Bou of the Microbiology Research group, both CICA collaborators, and José Antonio Orosa of the Energy and Propulsion group.
Full list in this link
The researcher Margarita Poza, from the Microbiology Research Group at CHUAC and the scientific coordinator of the COVIDBENS project, was interviewed about the latest results of the wastewater analysis at Edar Bens.
The researcher states that "the British variant already dominates in our metropolitan area", and that "people infected by this strain excrete more virus load than before". This new scenario, accompanied by the increased viral load detected in water samples, has put the COVIDBENS team on alert. This week they hope to be able to conclude, thanks to a readjustment in the mathematical model, whether the increase is due to the number of cases or to the particularities of the new strain, which is estimated to have already completely replaced the previous variant.
Marga Poza explains that with the evolution of the pandemic "there are more variables that make noise in the model and that is why we [the COVIDBENS team] have to readapt it". In any case, the researcher urges the population to continue to maintain all relevant safety measures.
The COVIDBENS team is coordinated by Margarita Poza and Carlos Lamora (Director of EDAR Bens); and is made up of researchers from the University of A Coruña and INIBIC.
The complete news in La Voz de Galicia, 15/03/2021, Pablo Portabales and Loreto Silvoso.
Image by César Quian
Three new researchers have joined the Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (CICA) of the University of A Coruña (UDC) thanks to the grants for the attraction and retention of research talent in the universities of the Galician University System (SUG).
The most recent incorporation took place this week. Alejandro Criado, a native of Lugo, holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC). Over the next few years, he will develop new materials combining graphene and proteins. Biomedicine will be able to benefit from the properties of these materials, being used, for example, in nerve or muscle implants.
He thus joins the other two distinguished researchers who, since November, have been enjoying their attraction grants at the CICA. In the REACT! group, Jesús Mosquera, from A Coruña, PhD in Chemistry from the USC, designs molecular complexes whose shape resembles that of a container. These have interesting biomedical applications, as they can enclose, transport and release drugs useful in the treatment of diseases such as cancer. In the AQUATERRA group, Manuel López, PhD in Geology from the University of Zaragoza and an expert in mathematical modelling, improves the use of plant covers and geotextiles in Atlantic climate vineyards. Its aim is to promote sustainable cultivation while reducing runoff damage and boosting production yields.
This year, the Xunta has received 30 applications for a total of 10 places offered in the modality of attracting talent. It should be noted that, having obtained 3 of the 10, CICA is the SUG centre with the best result of the call. All the winners will have access to these grants for a maximum period of 4 years, during which the Xunta will spend a little more than 3.6 million euros.
To the 3 researchers attracted by the Xunta's call, CICA adds 2 Beatriz Galindo grants, 3 Ramón y Cajal contracts and 2 JIN grants; all of them obtained throughout 2020. By previous calls, it already had 1 Ramón y Cajal, 2 Beatriz Galindo and 2 InTalent UDC-Inditex. These numbers speak for themselves and reward the enormous effort that the research centre is making in the calls for talent recruitment.
With all these incorporations, the CICA reaffirms its commitment to the recovery of Spanish scientific talent, since a good part of the new researchers, Galician in almost all cases, return to Spain, after spending the last few years abroad.
About the Centre for Advanced Scientific Research.- The CICA is a multidisciplinary research centre, promoted by the UDC in 2015 with the mission of bringing together leading research groups in chemistry and biology. Its facilities are equipped with the latest technologies. With a female presence of more than 50%, the centre has more than 270 people highly committed to the transfer of scientific knowledge to society.