María obtained the degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Lleida in 2017. During that time, she performed internships in several research centres, among others, the Institute of Cancer Research of Vienna, where she carried out her final degree project remunerated by an Erasmus+ program.
Next, she studied a Master's Degree in Biomedicine at the University of Barcelona, where she specialized in basic and translational research in cancer.
In 2019, Maríajoined IBBTEC, where she is working in the role of cancer-associated fibroblasts in the tumour microenvironment under the supervision of Fernando Calvo.
- Non-cancerous cells and matricellular molecules within the tumour, collectively defined as the tumour microenvironment, participate in many hallmarks of cancer. The Tumour Microenvironment Team investigates the multicellular context of solid tumours to understand the molecular mechanisms regulating cancer progression and dissemination. The ultimate goal of these studies is to yield important insights into cancer biology leading to improved strategies for cancer therapy. To achieve this, we collaborate with academics, clinicians and engineers in a multidisciplinary approach, integrating experimental cancer models, murine and patient-derived material, complex in vitro and in silico systems and high throughput genomics and bioinformatics.
Cytoskeletal regulators of cancer dissemination. Our team is interested in understanding why and how cancer cells spread through the body. Using state-of-the-art in vitro approaches and pre-clinical models, we study the reciprocal interactions between invading/metastatic cells and their microenvironment, and the molecular rearrangements that promote efficient metastatic behaviours in cancer cells, with a particular emphasis in the modulation of the cytoskeleton.
Mechanisms of stromal reprogramming in cancer. We investigate the environmental cues (chemical or physical) and signals from malignant cells that lead to the emergence of tumour-promoting phenotypes in otherwise normal cells of the tumour microenvironment, with a particular focus in cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF). Using molecular and bioinformatics tools, we examine patterns of gene expression and signal activation in cancer stroma. We then investigate the effect of reciprocal interactions between cancer cells and normal cells in these patterns, their relevance in tumoural processes and strategies to perturb them to deter tumour progression.
Characterisation of the role of CAF heterogeneity in tumour progression. We have developed in vitro and in vivo systems to investigate CAF behaviour, their contribution to the hallmarks of cancer (e.g. cancer cell growth, invasion, angiogenesis, immune suppression), and the molecular mechanisms controlling them. However, there is molecular and functional heterogeneity within the CAF population, which has a major impact in tumour evolution and therapeutic response. Our team aims at examining this diversity and its contribution to metastatic dissemination and resistance.
- “Microscopy platform with super-resolution and high content analysis (HCA) capabilities” | MINECO – Infrastructure and Equipment Call (EQC2021-007003-P) | IPs: Ignacio Varela, Piero Crespo, Maria Angeles Ros, Fernando Calvo, Juan Carlos Acosta.
- “Multidisciplinary dissection of the chemotherapy resistance mechanisms in triple negative breast cancer: A step towards improved clinical care” | AECC – Coordinated Projects 2021 (PRYCO211372RODR) | 2021-2025 | IPs: Angel Nebreda, Ignacio Varela, Juan Miguel Cejalvo, and Fernando Calvo.
- "Targeting cancer-associated fibroblasts using HDAC inhibitors to improve therapies for breast, ovarian and colon cancers" | LAB AECC 2019 (LABAE19044CALV)| 2020-2023 | PI: Fernando Calvo
- "Cortocircuitar el microambiente tumoral para entorpecer el desarrollo de cánceres agresivos" | BBVA Leonardo Awards 2019 (IN_BBM_BAS_0076) | 2019-2021 | IP: Fernando Calvo
- "Identification and characterization of strategies to modulate cancer-associated fibroblasts to deter tumour progression (STOPCAF)" | Proyectos de I+D+i RETOS INVESTIGACIÓN-MINECO - RTI2018-096778-A-I00 | 2019-2021 | PI: Fernando Calvo.
- Ramon y Cajal Research Fellowship | Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (RYC-2016-20352) | 2018-2021 | PI: Fernando Calvo.
- Contrato Ramón y Cajal | Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (RYC-2016-20352) | 2018-2023 | PI: Fernando Calvo.
- Collaborative Agreement The Institute of Cancer Research - CSIC | The Institute of Cancer Research, UK | 2018-2020 | IP: Fernando Calvo.
- "Investigating the physical and biological determinants of cancer cell extravasation" | Multidisciplinary Project Award (C57744-A2367) | Cancer Research UK | IPs: Fernando Calvo y Emad Moeendarbary (Imperial College London, UK) | 2017-2021.
- "Investigating the role of stromal Dkk3 in breast cancer progression and metastasis" | Worldwide Cancer Research (Ref 15-0273) | 2015-2018 | IP: Fernando Calvo.
- "Functional characterization of breast cancer-associated fibroblasts" | CRUK Postdoctoral Fellowship | Cancer Research UK | 2010-2013 | IP: Erik Sahai.
Studentships to my team
- “Mechanical Regulation of CAF epigenome” | Ignacio Marina (internship) | CSIC – JAE-Intro at IBBTEC, Spain | 2021-2022.
- “Role of stromal HSF1 in tumour progression by cancer-associated fibroblasts” | Beatriz Rodríguez | Universidad de Cantabria – PhD Studentship at IBBTEC, Spain | 2021-2025.
- “Investigating the crosstalk between CAFs and macrophages in cancer” | David García (internship) | CSIC – JAE-Intro at IBBTEC, Spain | 2020-2021.
- “Epigenetic reprogramming of CAFs” | María Subijana (PhD) | Proyectos de I+D+i RETOS INVESTIGACIÓN-MINECO – FPI/PhD Studentship at IBBTEC, Spain | 2020-2024.
- “Investigating the role of stromal HSP90 in shaping aggressive tumour microenvironments” | Silvia Dominguez (PhD) | AECC-Cantabria at IBBTEC, Spain | 2020-2023.
- “Role of HSP90 in tumour progression by cancer-associated fibroblasts” | Guillermo Iborra (PhD) | Universidad de Cantabria – IBBTEC, Spain | 2019-2022 | Granted – the candidate turned it down for personal reasons.
- "Investigating the role of stromal IGFBP5 in breast cancer progression, dissemination and therapeutic resistance" | Maria Semiannikova | The Institute of Cancer Research, UK | 2017-2021.
- "Role of Borg proteins in cancer cell invasion and metastasis" | Aaron Farrugia (PhD) | The Institute of Cancer Research, UK | 2014-2018.