I have joined the PhD Program at the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) in Barcelona.
I graduated from a BSc in Microbiology at the University of The Andes, Colombia, followed by a MSc in Genome and Cell Fate the University Paris 7 in France. During my Master’s Thesis, I worked at the Gustave Roussy Institute exploring the development of the blood system in the mouse embryo.
As a PhD student of the Cell Biology group within the ITN RENOIR program, I will study the mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle regeneration and fibrosis in conditions of aging and disease, under the supervision of Dr Pura Muñoz-Cánoves (co-supervised by Dr. Antonio Serrano). The final goal of my project is to understand why the regenerative capacity of skeletal muscle declines with aging and over the course of muscular pathologies, since this will help to envision new pathways to enhance or restore muscle regeneration and halt disease progression in patients.
The UPF stands out among Spanish universities in its commitment to pedagogy and training: it received the International Excellence Campus distinction (Spanish Ministry of Education, 2010) and it is the only Spanish university in the Times Higher Education Top 200 (THE Ranking, 2011).
The Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (DCEXS) has a dedicated strategy of internationalisation of research lines, facilities and activities, as well as an accredited high quality of postgraduate training, that allow attracting and supporting foreign students and staff. The effort of attracting non-nationals is directly aligned with the DCEXS policy of internationalisation and attracting the most talented researchers. At least 15% of the teaching and research staff and 25% of DCEXS research assistants are foreign nationals, and about 40% of the teaching and research staff have experience or have earned their education overseas. 30% of official master’s students and 49% of doctoral students are international (2010-11).
The core facilities associated to the UPF are prepared to offer the services required to achieve the project goals, in particular to generate and house transgenic mice to study muscle inflammation and fibrosis during aging and disease.
Several studies support the emerging concept that inflammation controls stem cell fate/behaviour coordinating tissue repair and this balance is probably skewed in patients with late phases of chronic diseases, like muscle dystrophies and in aging.
We will focus on how the inflammatory and vascular components integrate to coordinate muscle regeneration and how fibrosis develops in pathological conditions. We will study Endothelial-to-Mesenchymal-Transition (EndoMT) in chronic disease (on a mdx background) and in aging. We will study EndoMT in chronic disease (on a mdx background) and in aging by using the Cdh5-CreERT2:R26R-EYFP mice.
EYFP+ cells will be characterized for the expression of markers of ECs (e.g Ve-Cad and CD31), fibroblast (e.g. TCF4 and collagen) and other fibrogenic precursors (PDGFR-α, TNAP) while monitoring the progress of the disease at the histo-pathological level. Moreover, since a myoblast-to-fibroblast conversion has been reported in aged as well as distrophyc skeletal muscle, we will use the Pax7-Cre/Rosa26-YFP reporter mice to trace these cells and analyse their fate in aging and in disease (mdx).
To understand the origin, the fate and the role of different fibrogenic precursors during the progression of muscle dystrophy and in aging muscle using lineage-tracing mouse models