El curso

Instituto de Investigación Biomédica de Barcelona (IRB)

Del 22 de enero al 5 de noviembre 2022

El curso de Biomedicina del programa Locos por la ciencia de la Fundación Catalunya La Pedrera es un curso desarrollado por el Instituto de Investigación Biomédica (IRB Barcelona) dirigido a los estudiantes de 1º de bachillerato que deseen explorar algunos de los descubrimientos fascinantes que están haciendo actualmente en las ciencias de la vida. A través de este curso, los estudiantes tendrán la oportunidad de profundizar su conocimiento de la teoría y técnicas científicas en el campo de la biomedicina. Trabajarán junto con investigadores jóvenes para experimentar cómo se hace ciencia en un instituto de investigación internacional, ganar experiencia práctica en las últimas metodologías de vanguardia y posicionarse para una posible carrera profesional en las ciencias de la vida.

El curso se imparte durante diferentes sábados del 22 de enero al 5 de noviembre de 2022 en las instalaciones del IRB Barcelona.

Este curso combina sesiones teóricas y actividades experimentales prácticas, que se llevarán a cabo durante 16 sábados del año. El curso tratará 10 temas científicos actuales, que van desde la biología celular y molecular hasta la biología estructural y computacional y la química, presentados por investigadores jóvenes del IRB Barcelona. En el primer semestre (enero-abril 2022), los tres primeros sábados se dedicarán a estas sesiones teóricas online generales para todos los participantes. Durante los cinco sábados siguientes, se formarán grupos pequeños que entrarán a los laboratorios para las sesiones prácticas. A continuación, se repetirá este programa con 5 temas de investigación nuevos para el segundo semestre (mayo-noviembre 2022). Los estudiantes participantes deberán comprometerse a asistir a todas las sesiones del curso durante todo el año.

Las inscripciones al curso de Biomedicina del programa Locos por la Biomedicina estarán abiertas del 15 de septiembre al 25 de octubre de 2022 y entre todos los inscritos se seleccionarán 25 estudiantes de 1º de bachillerato que participarán en la 10ª edición del curso dentro de la 10ª edición del programa Locos por la ciencia que tendrá lugar el 2022.

Objetivos específcos

Entorno a los estudios académicos

  • Fomentar entre los jóvenes las vocaciones científicas vinculadas al mundo de las ciencias biomédicas ayudarlos a orientar su futuro académico y profesional.
  • Ofrecer la oportunidad de que su trabajo de investigación de bachillerato esté autorizado por un centro de investigación de referencia.

Entorno a la investigación

  • Acercar a los estudiantes en la investigación biomédica.
  • Entender la importancia de la investigación básica y sus beneficios para la sociedad.
  • Entender la importancia de la multidisciplinariedad.
  • Conocer el funcionamiento de los centros de investigación vinculados con la biomedicina.

Entorno a las habilidades personales

  • Trabajar en equipo.
  • Potenciar el pensamiento crítico.
  • Aprender a presentar y comunicar la ciencia de forma comprensible.

Sesiones 2022

Semestre 1 (Enero a abril 2022)
1. Unravelling the Molecular Structure of Life

Sesión a cargo de: Blazej Baginski (Structural Characterization of Macromolecular Assemblies)

Idioma: Inglés

Proteins and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) are the basic building blocks of life. They perform a multitude of functions–from sensing, transporting, and enzymatic regulation, to building the cell’s internal skeleton. Therefore, the fold and 3D-structure of these biomolecules is carefully controlled. A protein’s 3D structure determines its activity, creates receptor binding pockets and enzyme active centres.

Crystallography is one of the few methods that allows the structural determination of such macromolecules with atomic precision. By studying the interactions of crystallised molecules by means of high energy X-rays, it is possible to pinpoint the location of atoms and their bonds in a given molecule of interest.

During this course, we will set up a protein crystallisation experiment, learn the operation of high-precision pipetting robots, and cryogenically freeze protein crystals to prepare them for X-ray data collection at the synchrotron.

 

2. Manipulating cellular plasticity

Sesión a cargo de: Isabel Calvo & Dafni Chondronasiou (Cellular Plasticity and Disease)

Idioma: Inglés

The concept of cellular plasticity has gained great relevance during the last years in the context of cancer and tissue repair. Cellular plasticity allows adult cells to regress to stem cell-like states through de-differentiation pathways.

It is possible to convert differentiated cells into pluripotent stem cells (induced pluripotent stem cells or iPSCs) by the simple expression of four transcription factors. These iPSCs are functionally equivalent to embryonic stem cells (ESCs), which are derived from the developing blastocyst and can divide indefinitely while maintaining the capacity to differentiate into any cell type of the organism.

There is an increasing interest in better understanding how these transitions occur both in vitro and in vivo and how they can be manipulated. This knowledge will be directly applied in regenerative medicine to improve current medical treatments.

Students will learn the basic techniques to culture differentiated and pluripotent stem cells and they will be trained to induce the transition between cellular states. Finally, they will have the opportunity to perform in vitro assays that will help us to recognize the ultimate state of pluripotency.

 

3. CRISPR WARS: The Gene Strikes Backs

Sesión a cargo de: Luis Povoas (Gene Translation Laboratory)

Idioma: Inglés

Some years ago, during the process of constructing a fly model to study human diseases our lab found a very interesting protein that seems to be responsible for many different processes in the cell. This protein is a derivate of a group of proteins responsible to introduce amino acids in tRNA, to enable protein synthesis. We called it SLIMP (seryl-tRNA synthetase-like insect mitochondrial protein). Past studies suggest that this new protein has acquired an essential function in insects, being one of the most interesting results obtained so far, the role of SLIMP in cell cycle progression. To uncover more of SLIMP’s functions, our lab is using a revolutionary technology that changed the way we make science. This technology is the CRISPR editing system. This tool enables us to precisely edit the genome of live cells. With it, we can remove genes (knock-out), introduce genes (knock-in), introduce markers to follow a specific protein (tags) and others. Therefore, with this technology, we expect to uncover SLIMP intracellular location, protein-protein interactions and try to understand the SLIMP knockdown phenotypes in relation to DNA damage and cell cycle checkpoints. During this workshop, you will be introduced to concepts of molecular cloning, cell culture and CRISPR technology. May the science be with you!

 

4. From biomedicine to computational biology

Sesión a cargo de: Alba Sala (Molecular Modelling and Bioinformatics)

Idioma: Inglés

The interaction between small molecules is essential to living organisms. Amongst these molecules we find protein and nucleic acids, whose interaction plays a crucial role in biology (e.g., in the storage, repair, expression and regulation of genetic information).

Protein-DNA interaction is mostly defined by two mechanisms: what is called a direct or base read out and an indirect or shape readout. The former describes the ability of proteins to distinguish different binding modes. The later, focuses on the importance of certain protein and DNA sequences to adopt different 3D structures which determine the binding sites. The amount of importance given to these two mechanisms varies from protein to protein, but it is crucial to understand the role of a protein’s 3D structure.

In this course we will study the 3D structure of different proteins from a computational point of view. A protein’s structure is believed to dictate its function, and once a protein’s shape is understood, its role within the essential biological mechanisms can be determined; giving then information to scientists to develop new methodologies that work with a protein’s shape.

 

5.  Introduction to Drosophila melanogaster research: a versatile model in biology & medicine

Sesión a cargo de: Bitarka Bisai (Development and Morphogenesis in Drosophila)

Idioma: Inglés

The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is used as a model organism to study disciplines ranging from fundamental genetics to the development of tissues and organs. Despite the obvious differences between humans and Drosophila, it is remarkable that the fruit fly shares many similarities and conserved pathways with humans. Drosophila genome is 60% homologous to that of humans, less redundant, and about 75% of the genes responsible for human diseases have homologs in flies.

Multipotency has been the focus of extensive work in biomedicine research. However, we lack much knowledge of multipotent cells in their physiological context in the full organism. During this workshop, we will address some of these issues by exploiting a naturally occurring population of multipotent cells, the adult progenitor cells (APCs) in Drosophila. In Drosophila, most larval cells, mainly polyploid, die at the transition between larval and adult stages; only the APCs survive and proceed into their terminal differentiation during metamorphosis. However, both APCs and larval cells are affected by the same nutritional and hormonal cues, suggesting that unique molecular components act in the adult progenitor cells to differentially regulate the effect of the external and the intrinsic stimuli in their unique setting.

This course provides hands-on experience of different techniques to understand Drosophila melanogaster research. You will be introduced to first steps in fly genetics through
experimentation by crossing flies, identifying genetic markers and balancer chromosomes, and applying other genetic tools used every day in the lab. We will learn about the different stages of development and the anatomy of the fly at different stages. We will also perform fly dissections and use advanced microscopy.

Semestre 2 (Mayo a noviembre 2022)
1. Strategies to Understand Aging and Senescence

Sesión a cargo de: Marta Kovatcheva & Valentina Ramponi (Cellular Plasticity and Disease)

Idioma: Inglés

Scientific research and modern medicine have dramatically extended life expectancy, with the average person in the 

developed world expected to reach 80 years of age or more. However, this extension in lifespan has had no effect on health span; that is, the number of healthy years a human lives. Aging is still characterised by multiple pathologies including frailty, heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases, among many others. 

One of the main hallmarks of ageing is cellular senescence, the phenomenon by which normal cells stop dividing. Senescent cells accumulate in an organism over time, secreting pro-inflammatory molecules and contributing to age-related diseases. There is an increasing interest in clinical medicine to better identify and target senescent cells, as their elimination may delay and ameliorate some age-associated diseases. 

This course provides hands-on experience using different techniques to induce cellular senescence in normal cells. We will learn state-of-the-art techniques to study the molecular biology of senescent cells, analysing in vitro and in vivo samples. Finally, we will perform classical protocols, such as SAβgal staining, to detect senescent cells. These techniques will help us to understand, identify and target senescent cells for clearance, which is a promising therapeutic approach to extend health span.

 

2. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Who Is the Most Helpful Insect of Them All? – Getting to Know Tumorigenesis Through the Fly 

Sesión a cargo de: Elena Fusari (Development and Growth Control Laboratory)

Idioma: Inglés

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has been widely used as a model organism for more than one hundred years to address biological questions in various fields. This organism has emerged as a potent tool for genetic manipulation, offering innumerable possibilities to analyze the detailed interaction between cells and tissues. 

One question could be raised: how can a tiny organism such as Drosophila melanogaster be used to understand the pathways of such a complex disease as cancer? Well, the answer is as simple as that: many biological mechanisms are well conserved across evolution, including the ones concerning pathological conditions. This is what allows scientists to translate the knowledge acquired from less complex organisms to more complex ones. For instance, 75% of human disease-related genes and 68% of human cancer-related genes have a counterpart in the fly. We are more similar to the fly than what we may think!

During this semester, we will learn how to study the complex process of tumorigenesis using this model organism, both with a local and systemic approach. We will focus mainly on carcinomas, the most common type of tumor diagnosed in humans.

Carcinomas are derived from epithelial tissue, such as the skin, and they can become invasive or metastatic by spreading beyond the primary tissue layer and surrounding tissues or organs. In aggressive cancer cells, this transition is mediated by the activation of the EMT (Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition) program, which causes the cells to undergo morphogenetic alterations that increase invasive capacity.

In this course, we will introduce you to the first steps in fly genetics. We will cross flies, identify genetic markers and balancer chromosomes, and apply other genetic tools that we use in the lab every day in order to generate tumorigenic flies and study them. We will also learn about the anatomy of the fly in adult and larvae stages and use advanced microscopy to see several genetic markers in the tumoral tissues. We will also perform in vivo dissections and their respective immunohistochemistry.

 

3. Unravelling the Molecular Structure of Life 

Sesión a cargo de: Miriam Condeminas (Structural Characterization of Macromolecular Assemblies)

Idioma: Inglés

Proteins and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) are the basic building blocks of life. They perform a multitude of functions–from sensing, transporting, and enzymatic regulation, to building the cell’s internal skeleton. Therefore, the fold and 3D-structure of these biomolecules is carefully controlled. A protein’s 3D structure determines its activity, creates receptor binding pockets and enzyme active centres.

Crystallography is one of the few methods that allows the structural determination of such macromolecules with atomic precision. By studying the interactions of crystallised molecules by means of high energy X-rays, it is possible to pinpoint the location of atoms and their bonds in a given molecule of interest.

During this course, we will set up a protein crystallisation experiment, learn the operation of high-precision pipetting robots, and cryogenically freeze protein crystals to prepare them for X-ray data collection at the synchrotron.

 

4. An omics complex puzzle? Let’s decipher it by using Bioinformatics!

Sesión a cargo de: Olfat Khannous (Molecular Modelling and Bioinformatics) & Marina Murillo (Gene Translation Laboratory)

Idioma: Inglés

Complex biological diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, and in many cases we have not yet identified or established a relationship between them to shed light to the understanding of the origin and progression of such biological problems.

Multi-omics profiling and integration combines different types of data for a better understanding of these complex diseases. 

One of the branches of the ‘Omics’ sciences is transcriptomics which involves the study of all the RNA molecules (including mRNA, tRNA, rRNA, and other non-coding RNAs) within a cell, otherwise known as the transcriptome. Consequently, by analyzing the transcriptome researchers can determine if a gene is turned on or off in the cells and tissues of an organism.

On the other hand, metagenomics is the study of the genetic material (genomes) from a mixed community of organisms of a sample. It allows us to describe which microbial communities are living within each individual (microbiome) and its relationship with host genetics, diet and environment can reveal links with disease or health.

In our workshop you will be immersed in the computational world (dry lab) understanding its synergy with the experimental lab (wet lab), and you will learn how to obtain transcriptomics and metagenomics data and also how to use bioinformatics tools to analyze them and to add missing pieces to these mentioned complex puzzles.

 

5. In vivo experimental approach to study breast cancer bone metastasis

Sesión a cargo de

Idioma: Inglés

In a primary tumor, many cells are constantly trying to enter into the circulation, travel through the bloodstream and arrive to a new organ to form a secondary tumor. This process is called metastasis and is very inefficient. However, tumor cells sometimes acquire properties that give them the ability to succeed and form a metastasis, which usually is fatal for cancer patients.

Metastasis is a very complex process, that is why we need different tools and techniques for its study. Eventhough in vitro experimentation gives us the possibility to study different aspects of tumor cells behavior inside the lab, in vivo experimentation allows a deeper understanding of how these tumor cells develop in their natural environment.

In our lab we combine all these techniques in order to study breast cancer metastasis. We use human cancer cell lines and animal models to unravel the role of specific genes in breast cancer bone metastasis.

In this course we will learn how cells are cultured and labeled in the lab, the techniques that we use to inject them into mice, how tumor growth can be monitored and the correct way to analyze the results obtained using in vivo models.

Calendario 2022
Calendario 2022
Sábado 22 de enero
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
Charla de bienvenida + charla teórica del 1º workshop
Sesión teórica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 5 de febrero
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
2 charlas de dos temáticas diferentes
Sesión teórica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 19 de febrero
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
2 charlas de dos temáticas diferentes
Sesión teórica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 26 de febrero
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
Práctica 1 (en grupos de 5)
Sesión práctica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 12 de marzo
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
Práctica 2 (en grupos de 5)
Sesión práctica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 26 de marzo
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
Práctica 3 (en grupos de 5)
Sesión práctica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 2 de abril
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
Práctica 4 (en grupos de 5)
Sesión práctica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 30 de abril
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
Práctica 5 (en grupos de 5)
Sesión práctica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 21 de mayo
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
1 charla
Sesión teórica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 4 de junio
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
2 charlas de dos temáticas diferentes
Sesión teórica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 11 de junio
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
2 charlas de dos temáticas diferentes
Sesión teórica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 17 de septiembre
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
Práctica 6 (en grupos de 5)
Sesión práctica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 1 de octubre
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
Práctica 7 (en grupos de 5)
Sesión práctica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 15 de octubre
IRB Barcelona, Calle Baldiri Reixac 10-12
Práctica 8 (en grupos de 5)
Sesión práctica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 22 de octubre
IRB Barcelona, Carrer Baldiri Reixac 10-12
Práctica 9 (en grupos de 5)
Sesión práctica. De 10h a 14h
Sábado 5 de noviembre
IRB Barcelona, Carrer Baldiri Reixac 10-12
Práctica 10 (en grupos de 5)
Sesión práctica. De 10h a 14h