I started working in a research lab during the last two years of my Biology undergraduate studies in the University of Oviedo (Spain) soon after which I continued with my PhD in the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona (2004-2009). Whilst there, I focused on the mechanisms that control the expression of the cell cycle regulator and tumour suppressor p27kip1. At the time miRNAs had only just started to gain the attention of the scientific community and we discovered that p27kip1 translation is regulated by the microRNA miR-181a during myeloid differentiation, and this has a direct impact in the capacity of these cells to differentiate into macrophages.
It was my deep interest in miRNAs and other non-coding RNAs which drove me to continue my career as a researcher under the supervision of Dr Chris L. Murphy (Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, University of Oxford) studying the role of miRNAs in cartilage function. During my three years in this lab, we defined miRNAs altered during chondrocyte de-differentiation and unravelled the specific function that miR-145 and miR-1247 have during this process.
Although cartilage is a relatively isolated tissue, I find it fascinating how individual tissues and organs are coordinated to respond to the metabolic needs of the body. The function of the pancreatic β-cell in the islets of Langerhans is a wonderful example of this complex yet tight regulation. MiRNAs’s role and mechanism of action in the β-cell are still largely unknown, which, in 2013, encouraged me to join Proffesor Rutter's group at Imperial College.
In 2016 I received a Society for Endocrinology Early Career Grant to study AMPK-mediated regulation of miRNAs in the beta-cell, and in 2017, I was awarded a New Investigator Research Grant by the MRC to set-up an independent research group within the Section of Cell Biology and Functional Genomics that has allowed me to continue with my research on the role of miRNAs in the beta-cell. In 2018 I was appointed a Non-Clinical Lecturer in this Section.
I am also a coordinator of the MSc Fucntional Omics at Imperial and the lead of the Module "Non-coding RNA, Gene Editing and in vitro Modelling".