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Former PhD Student abstract: Mariona Esquerdo, PhD

Beyond the wall: a journey from Research to Pharma

Pharma industry is the Evil, Mordor, the Dark Side and the UpsideDown. All together. It is like prostitution, giving up all ideals of basic research and selling your soul to greedy people that play with human disease to earn as much money as they can. Or so I thought some years ago.

And yet, a year ago I jumped to the other side, crossed the wall and found myself into an incredible environment. Extraordinary people truly committed to science, with a thousand skills and willing to smash their brains to find the best treatment for all human disease imaginable. And companies too. There is a whole world far beyond Big Pharmas: a world full of small biotechs, investors, entrepeneurs and governments working to transform ideas to real projects.

The aim of this talk is to draw a short story on how I went from depositing my thesis only a year ago, starting my work as Business Developer three days after and finding myself beyond the wall. Also, to talk about my experience on what I have learned so far, tools, webs and programmes I have discovered to be useful to get started in the industry world.

Former PhD Student abstract: Isaac Subirana, PhD

Statistical techniques to assess association of novel genetic variants and complex diseases CNVassoc R package

When assessing association of genetic variants measured with uncertainty and complex diseases it is important to use appropriate statistical techniques. On the contrary, it can lead to underpowered and inaccurate results. The main topic of my PhD consisted on developing new and more powerful tools to deal with CNV as well as imputed SNPs.

In 2003 I was graduated in Statistics by the University of Barcelona (UB). In 2005, I got my master’s degree in Science and Statistical Techniques by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). Finally, in 2014 I finished my PhD at the Statistics Department UB.

Since 2003 I work as statistical advisor on epidemiological studies in the REGICOR group at IMM Research Institute. In my daily work at IMIM I have had the opportunity to apply several techniques learnt during my university education to real data studies, such as follow-up cohorts, clinical trials or population genetic studies. One example is MIGen study which contained thousands of genetic variants that I used for my PhD.

Former PhD Student abstract: Laura Guerrero, PhD

Research looking south: Water science for low income countries and humanitarian scenarios

Regarding the insufficient results Millennium Development Goals after 2015 deadlines, there is an increasing need of new strategies to increase access basic services, like safe water in rural low income regions. Moreover it has been demonstrated that water treatment technologies must be adapted towards sustainability and acceptability for a good adherence among the most needed populations.

My short scientific career have had water science for the “south” and however the difficulties found on the path I would like to expose few results obtained.

Firstly, during my phd I focused on the improvement of a household water treatment technology for viral removal: the black ceramic water filters. During my post doc in Ecuador we’ve implemented this prototype in an Andean community to evaluate its impact of their use.

In the other hand, I’ve also collaborated with different NGOs in a particular problem faced in humanitarian crisis: Hepatitis E Virus outbreaks in refugee camps (Eastern Chad and South Sudan).

Former PhD Student abstract: Maria Almuedo, PhD

Scale-invariant patterning by size-dependent inhibition of Nodal signaling

Scale-invariant patterning guarantees the maintenance of tissue and organ proportions of individuals independently of changes in the size of the organism. We generated smaller zebrafish by removing 30% of their cells at blastula stages and found that these embryos developed into normally patterned individuals. Strikingly, the proportions of all germ layers adjusted to the new embryo size within two hours after cell removal. Since Nodal/Lefty signalling controls germ layer patterning, we performed a computational screen for scale-invariant models of this activator/inhibitor system. This analysis predicted that the concentration of the highly diffusive inhibitor Lefty increases in smaller embryos, leading to a decreased Nodal activity range and contracted germ layer dimensions. In vivo studies confirmed that Lefty levels increased in smaller embryos, and embryos with reduced Lefty concentration or with diffusion-hindered Lefty failed to scale their tissue proportions. These results reveal that size-dependent inhibition of Nodal signalling allows scale-invariant patterning.