Summary

I am a cell and developmental biologist interested in understanding how cell-to-cell communication controls cell behaviour during development, regeneration and neurodegeneration. After my degree in Biology and a MRes at (University of Barcelona), I completed my PhD in Genetics with Dr Elisa Marti at the Molecular Biology Institute of Barcelona. There, I uncovered that through the transcriptional regulation of transcription factors, anti-apoptotic and cell cycle genes, Sonic Hedgehog coordinates the patterning, growth and differentiation of neural precursors and the switch between neurogenic and gliogenic programmes in the vertebrate neural tube.

During my first postdoc with Dr Elke Ober at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (London), I started working on the Eph/Ephrin pathway, a signalling system involved in embryonic development and tissue homeostasis and with links to cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. My work in liver development, revealed that bidirectional Eph/Ephrin signalling is mediated by signalling filopodia and can occur at a distance. Further to this, Eph/Ephrin signalling between liver precursors and the adjacent mesoderm is key for the asymmetric placement of the liver and for the correct formation of the ducts connecting the liver and the pancreas to the gut.

In 2013, I moved to Dr David Wilkinson laboratory (The Francis Crick Institute, London) where I investigated the role of Eph/Ephrin signalling in the formation of tissue boundaries, a critical process in embryonic development and disease. For this, I established knock-out and knock-in CRISPR/Cas9 strategies and generated null and signalling-deficient Eph/Ephrin zebrafish lines. Using these tools, I discovered that the Eph receptor coordinates the formation of sharp borders with the acquisition of cell identities by regulating the mechanical properties of cells and activating the transcription factors Yap/Taz.

I was also a Teaching Assistant at the prestigious “Embryology: Concepts & Techniques in Modern Developmental Biology” course at the Marine Biology Laboratories (Woods Hole, University of Chicago, US) and since 2023 I am a group leader and Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Portsmouth.