Currently, I am a PROBIST postdoctoral researcher under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie agreement No. 754510 at the Catalan Institute of Nanosciences and Nanotechnology. My research is focused on the employment of optical interferometer sensors for the multiplex detection of RNA and protein markers associated with brain trauma and viral RNA for clinical and epidemiological analyses.
I carried out my undergraduate studies in Biotechnology (2008-2013) at the University of Salamanca, where I collaborated as a research assistant in the Spanish-Portuguese Institute of Agricultural Research (CIALE). The project consisted of the production of genetically modified rapeseed with the ability to form a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhiza.
I studied the Erasmus Mundus Master in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (2013-2015) that took place in Belgium and France. The first year happened in KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium), where I carried out a small project in the MEBios group that was based on the optimization of an optical fiber SPR sensor for the detection of pathogenic DNA. During the second year at the University of Joseph Fourier (Grenoble, France), I expanded my knowledge in bio-nanotechnology, and performed my Master thesis in Institute Néel-CNRS. The project was also focused on DNA detection, but in this occasion, using organic fluorescent nanocrystal embedded in a silicate matrix.
In 2014, I obtained a La Caixa Fellowship to pursue postgraduate studies in North America. I used the Fellowship to enter in the Chemistry doctoral program at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, USA). The thesis was supervised by Professor Ryan Bailey. My doctoral research trajectory included two main projects: the development of protocols for the detection of different classes of RNA molecules and the analysis of polyphosphate in real samples using an optical sensing platform consisted of an array of silicon photonic microring resonators.
Nanophotonic biosensors for clinical diagnosis
My research project consisted of the development of photonic biosensor devices for the detection of disease biomarkers in clinical analysis. The biosensor arrays employed are based on silicon photonics technology fabricated in silicon nitride waveguides where the light can be confined. Any changes on the surface of the sensor, such as the binding of biomarkers to specific receptors attached to the surface, will provoke a change in the light traveling along the waveguide that can be tracked in real-time. My main tasks in this research are the development and optimization of protocols for the biofunctionalization of the photonic sensor’s surface and the full development of the biosensor analytical features. I am particularly involved in detecting genomic markers, meaning the detection of specific nucleic acid sequences related to pathogens (eg. Viruses) or patient genomic sequences related to the diagnosis or prognosis of a particular disease. Besides, I am developing a protocol to optimize the detection and regeneration of the sensor chips to allow their employment for multiple measurements with real samples.
The major expected accomplishments are the validation of these photonic nanobiosensors for two main projects with clinical applications. The first project (ABISENS, ERA-net Cofund Action) consists in the development of a nanobiosensor for the monitoring of brain trauma patients by recognizing specific miRNA and protein biomarkers. The second project (CONVAT, H2020 funded project) involves the biosensor development to directly detect the genome’s presence of the SARS-CoV-2 and distinguish the viral genomes from other similar RNA viruses.