Group Leader

Mariona Graupera

Group Leader

Biography

2003 PhD in Biomedicine, University of Barcelona
2003-2009 Postdoc, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research & Barts Cancer Institute @ the Vanhaesebroeck Lab, London, UK
2009-2014 Ramon y Cajal Tenured Track Position, Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, Barcelona
2015- Group Leader, Biomedical Research Institute, Barcelona

I began to develop an interest in vascular biology during my PhD where I studied portal hypertension, a vascular syndrome associate with liver cirrhosis. Those studies led me to publish several first-author papers in high impact journals. I defended my PhD thesis in 2003 under the umbrella of the Hepatic hemodynamic unit at the University of Barcelona. Very early during my training, I was exposed to what is now called ‘translational research’. This has been very influential for my subsequent research career, in which I have always tried to translate basic science findings into therapeutic opportunities. My interest in signalling pathways in physiological systems led me to join the laboratory of Prof. Bart Vanhaesebroeck in London, first at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and then at the Bart’s Cancer Institute, where I performed my postdoctoral stay from 2003 to 2009. During this period, I unveiled the critical requirement of PI3Kα isoform during angiogenesis. This work, which has a very strong impact in the field, was published in Nature (Graupera et al. Nature 2008).  

Driven by my interest in the problem of cardiovascular diseases which are the cause of 45% of deaths in Western countries, in 2009 I embraced the opportunity to create a multidisciplinary laboratory devoted to study PI3K/PTEN signalling in physiopathological angiogenesis at IDIBELL with a Ramon y Cajal position. In this context, I have made instrumental discoveries leading to publish high-impact research (J Exp Med, Nat Commun, Clin Cancer Res, and Sci Transl Med), and that are likely to influence the clinical management of vascular-related diseases. In particular, our publication (Castillo et al. Sci Transl Med, 2016) has opened new therapeutic opportunities for venous malformations, a paediatric disease which lacks efficient therapy. To further develop this project, we have set up and managed a unique collaboration between clinicians, basic scientists and pathologists which I am sure will be extremely fruitful endeavour.

Our main future goal is to continue pursuing challenging projects and excellence science to understand the role of blood vessels in disease towards the development of therapeutic strategies to target the vascular compartment. This will allow the Graupera laboratory to train a new generation of talented researchers who will help the lab to fulfill the current gaps and conundrums in the vascular biology field. Specifically, the Graupera laboratory has strong interest in understanding i) physiological vessel growth and function, and ii) pathological contexts in which the vasculature plays a critical role either intrinsically (vascular malformations) or extrinsically (cancer and obesity). To meet our goals, we use an interdisciplinary approach that includes state-of-the-art mouse and zebrafish genetic models, cell culture of patient-derived endothelial cells, systems biology approaches, and high-resolution microscopy including live imaging.

Post Doc Fellows

Pilar Villacampa

Juan de la Cierva Fellow

I completed my undergraduate training in Biotechnology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Spain. I later joined Prof Fàtima Bosch lab in UAB, where I worked the characterisation of transgenic models of diabetic retinopathy and the development of gene therapy strategies. Then, I moved to UCL-Institute of Ophthalmology (London, UK) as a Marie Curie IEF postdoctoral fellow, where I joined Prof James Bainbridge’s group.  There, I investigated the role of HIF factors in myeloid cells in ischemic retinopathy. I joined the Vascular Signalling group in 2017 as Juan de la Cierva Fellow and I’m researching the impact of PI3K in pericytes in physiology and disease.

Sandra Castillo

MSCA-IF fellow

I gained my undergraduate BSc degree in Biology at Universidad de Navarra (Spain). I undertook my PhD in cancer genetics at the CNIO in Madrid and PEBC-IDIBELL in Barcelona, in the lab of Dr. Montse Sanchez-Cespedes, studying the role of new oncogenes in lung cancer. Following my PhD, I joined the lab of Prof. Bart Vanhaesebroeck in London (UK) awarded with a long-term EMBO fellowship, at the Barts Cancer Institute-Queen Mary University of London and the Cancer Institute-University College London. There, I discovered new genetic events leading to vascular anomalies. In 2017, I joined the lab of Dr. Mariona Graupera with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship, where I investigate the biology of vascular anomalies.

Leonor Gouveia

Swedish Research Council Fellow

I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal and my Master’s degree in Medical Science at Uppsala University, Sweden. For my PhD, I joined the lab of Prof. Christer Betsholtz at Uppsala University, Sweden, where I studied the role of PDGF-A signalling during lung development. I joined the Vascular Signalling group in 2019 as a Postdoctoral Fellow supported by the Swedish Research Council to study the vasculature of adipose tissues and its contribution to the development of obesity and systemic metabolic disorders.

Ana Angulo-Urarte

Post doctoral Investigator

I started my research career as BSc student in Dr. Marisol Soengas´s lab at the CNIO (Madrid, Spain). There, I took part in a very exciting research project, led by Dr. David Olmeda, studying how lymphoangiogenesis contributes to melanoma metastasis. Later, I joined Dr. Mariona Graupera´s lab at the IDIBELL (Barcelona, Spain) for the MSc and for the PhD, aiming to understand the function of the PI3K signaling in angiogenesis. During my PhD, I also visited the laboratory of the Prof. Markus Affolter and Dr. Heinz Georg Belting with an EMBO Short-Term Fellowship to image vessel formation using transgenic zebrafish embryos. In 2017, I joined the group of Dr. Stephan Huveneers at the AMC in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) where I have studied how force-dependent membrane deformation at cell-cell junctions can contribute to the coordinated physiological process of sprouting angiogenesis.

Since 2020 I joined the Vascular Signalling group to study the pathogenesis of PIK3CA-mutant vascular malformations developing novel mouse models.

Laura Medrano

Post doctoral Investigator

After completing my Genetics degree at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), I moved to London where I obtained my MSc in Immunology at Imperial College of London. During my training, I developed a research project investigating the quality of antigen-specific B-cell responses against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) supervised by Prof. Peter Openshaw and Dr. Christopher Chiu at St. Mary’s Hospital. Following this placement, I joined Dr. Ezra Aksoy’s lab at the William Harvey Research Institute (WHRI) Queen Mary University London. I was awarded a Derek Willoughby Scholarship for Inflammatory Research as a Ph.D. candidate in mucosal immunity and gut inflammation. I studied the isoform-selective roles of phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) and innate immune receptor signalling in dendritic cells (DCs) as well as intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). My aim was to understand the mechanism of PI3K-signalling and its impact in intestinal repair and regeneration after injury, an area which is underexplored in the innate immunity field.

In April 2020, I joined Dr. Mariona Graupera’s lab with a PTEN Foundation Research grant investigating vascular malformations in PTEN hamartoma tumour syndrome (PHTS).

Erika Monelli

Post doctoral Investigator

PhD students

Piotr Kobiałka

Phd ITN Marie Curie Fellow

In 2015 I graduated from Jagiellonian University in Kraków (Poland), where I studied biotechnology. During my studies, I have joined the Department of Immunology, where I worked on a role of chemerin in the physiology of human skin keratinocytes. Additionally, I have conducted my training in molecular and cell biology as well as biochemistry in Mariona Graupera´s (IDIBELL, Barcelona) and Jonathan Ewbank´s (CIML, Marseille) groups as an Erasmus+ fellow. Since 2016, I have re-joined Graupera´s group in order to start working on a PhD project as part of a Marie-Curie ITN. My current work is focused on understanding the role of class II PI3K isoform – C2β – in endothelial cell biology and blood vessels sprouting.

Helena Sabata

PhD student

I completed my undergraduate training in Biotechnology at Universitat de Barcelona (UB). During this period, I was granted a five-month research training placement at Egbert Oosterwijk laboratory in Radboud University Medical Center (RadboudUMC) in Nijmegen, The Neetherlands, as part of an Erasmus programme scholarship. Then I did a MSc in Translational Biomedical Research in Vall d’Hebron Institut de Recerca (VHIR), Barcelona, and I joined Graupera’s laboratory. Currently, as a PhD student, I am working on the characterization of PI3K driven vascular malformations.

Judith Llena

PhD Student

I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Biomedicine in 2016 at Barcelona University (UB). As an ungraduated student I did my practical training in the Advanced Chemistry Institute of Catalonia from the Superior Council of Scientific Investigations (IQAC-CSIC), whit Dr. Mª Teresa García. After that I got a fellowship to participate in the IDIBELL Summer Training Program, when I joined for the first time Graupera’s Lab. Later, I had the opportunity to work in the Advanced Therapies Divison of the Blood and Tissue Bank of Catalonia (BST), where I studied the lymphocytical immunomodulation upon mesenquimal cells and their ability to become reprogrammed into a bone-like phenotype. In 2017 I received my master’s degree in Translational Biomedical Research from Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) and I re-joined Graupera’s Lab to do my final master thesis studying the metabolic impact of deleting PTEN in endothelial cells.

Currently, as a PhD student, I am focused on the study of the role of PI3K in tumour angiogenesis and the effects of promoting this process.

Anabel Martínez

PhD student

I obtained a BSc in Biology with special mention in Molecular biology at 2017 and an MSc in Biomedicine with special mention in Oncology at 2018; both performed from the Universidad de Barcelona (UB), Spain. I completed my degree thesis at Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) studying the histology and cellular composition of lung cancer. I continued with this branch of research during my master thesis at Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) but, this time, focusing the research on the epigenetic and molecular biology of LC. Finishing the master, I achieved the grant IDIBELL Summer Training Program to continue with the project for three months.

Currently, I’m a PhD student in the Vascular Signalling group led by Dra. Mariona Graupera, although my project is codirected by Dr. Arkaitz Carracedo from CIC bioGUNE in Bilbao, Spain. My research is based on the prostate cancer microenvironment, specially focusing on pericytes and blood vessels at different levels of tumour progression.

Pau Cerdà

Medical doctor and PhD student

I completed my medicine degree in 2012 in Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and after I applied for a specialization post which I obtained in Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge (HUB) in 2013. During the next 5 years I finished 2 years of a biostatistics master in UAB and I completed my specialization in Internal Medicine in 2018. After working as an Emergency Department doctor for 6 months, I had the opportunity to work in Hemorrhagic Hereditary Telangiectasia (HHT) Unit in HUB which is coordinated by Dr. Riera-Mestre. It is a multidisciplinary unit that keeps a tight relation with basic research. Under the research FIS grant he received in 2017 (PI17/00669) to study new mutations identified sequencing the whole exome from Hemorrhagic Hereditary Telangiectasia (HHT) patients, and thanks to a post specialization grant from research committee in HUB for 2 years we received in 2019, nowadays I am developing a PhD related to HHT.  It is a project based on translational medicine that begins in the HHT Unit patients to return them back the knowledge we get in the laboratory. For this reason, I split my time in clinical assistance in the hospital and basic research in Dr. Graupera laboratory. Both researchers are my thesis directors.

 

Odena Vilalta

PhD student

I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Biomedicine at Universitat de Lleida (UdL). During this period I was able to stay in different research teams (Neuroscience and Microbiology). Additionally, I was granted with an Erasmus+ fellow at Yihai Cao’s lab in Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. In 2018, I did my Master’s degree in Biomedicine (Translational Research in Cancer) at Universitat de Barcelona (UB). In that time, I joined Ethel Queralt’s lab in IDIBELL, Barcelona and I got the IDIBELL Summer Training fellowship.

Currently, I’m in Graupera’s lab as a PhD student. My current work is focused on the pathogenic and pharmacologic study of cutaneous capillary malformations and Sturge-Weber syndrome.

Support Staff

Laia Muixi

Lab Manager

I received my PhD in Immunology at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) in 2009. During my PhD in the lab of Dra Dolores Jaraquemada at the Institut de Biotecnologia i de Biomedicina “Vicent Villar Palasí” (IBB, UAB) I studied the peptides presented by HLA-DR in autoimmune human Thyroids. In 2010 I joined Dra. Angels Sierra lab at IDIBELL where I focused my postdoctoral research on the design of a microarray prototype to detect brain metastasis biomarkers. After two years I decided to take a break and I went to Guinea Bissau to work as a volunteer for an ONG. Then I got back to IDIBELL to work as a research technician at Angels Sierra’s and then at Cristina Costa’s lab until December 2016, when I joined Dra. Graupera’s lab to work as project Manager of an H2020 MSCA-ITN

Alba Martínez

Laboratory Technician

In 2006 I got a High-Level Technical Certificate on Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory by the Institut d’Educació Secundaria La Guineueta (Barcelona). In 2007 I became part of the Animal facility staff at the Parc Científic de Barcelona (PRAAL-PCB) where I provided basic daily husbandry of transgenic mice. In 2011 I joined the Tumour Angiogenesis group at ICO-IDIBELL as a lab technician, where I have been working until now. My main duty is the maintenance of the mice colonies and their genotyping, and I also provide support in the different group’s projects. To continue with my training and willing to grow at work I decided to study a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science at the Universitat de Barcelona, that I’ll finish in about two years.

Alumni

Jasmina Zanoncello

Ana Raquel Martins Figueiredo Fonseca

Post doctoral Investigator

Instituto de Medicina Molecular (IMM), Vascular Morphogenesis 

Iñigo Chivite

Post doctoral Investigator

Adriana Soler Salas

Medical Scientific Liaison

Helena Serra Busquet

Pharmaceutic

Farmàcia Helena Serra Busquet, Barcelona.

 

Open positions

We welcome applications from motivated and enthusiastic students and post-doctoral scientists who are interested to join our lab.

Please contact Mariona Graupera to discuss the possibilities.