Doctors Ruth M. Risueño, Mayka Sánchez and Tanya Vavouri, from the IJC, awarded €100,000 funding each in recognition of their professional achievements
The Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitivity has a State programme of grants for funding and encouraging the continuity of doctors with an outstanding scientific and technological record. The purpose of these awards is to give continuity to the aims of the research intensification, incorporation and promotion programme, known as 'Programa I3'.
'Programa I3' recognises those researchers who have benefitted from a Ramon i Cajal award and who have been successfully appraised in an evaluation of their work.
In this year's evaluation, doctors Ruth M. Risueño, Mayka Sánchez and Tanya Vavouri, fromthe IJC, have been awarded €100,000 funding for three years, which will help cover the salary of the group leader.
Dr. Ruth M. Risueño's team is focussed on research into new therapies for leukaemic stem cells. Over these five years they have described three families of drugs which might potentially have an anti-leukaemic effect. As they identify them they will be able to study the signalling responsible for the survival of the leukaemic stem cells.
Knowing the biological basis that governs leukaemia makes it possible to widen the range of potentially effective therapeutic targets. Identifying new anti-leukaemia drugs in the laboratory enables the necessary preclinical studies to commence so that, in the near future, these drugs can be tried clinically.
Dr. Mayka Sánchez's team is focussed on the study of iron metabolism. Although we only need small quantities of iron, it is essential for normal cell growth and for good health. Iron deficiency leads to anaemia, while iron overload leads to changes in the tissues leading to inflammation, cell death, organ dysfunction and, on occasion, cancer.
Dr. Sánchez's group carries out research at different levels. One line of research concerns the mechanisms involved in iron metabolism and the genes that affect it. These studies could give rise to the discovery of new and rare iron metabolism diseases. Another line of research aims to design, improve and carry out new genetic tests to evaluate the iron in patients with malignant blood diseases.
Dr. Tanya Vavouri's research is in the field of genetic regulation, epigenetics and chromatin. Her research group uses computational methods to analyse genomic data available, either from public databases, or which have been generated in cooperation with other research groups. They also study the drug decitabine, which is normally used for the treatment of certain patients with myelodysplastic syndromes. The drug alters the regulation of genes and consequently also cell function.