Solver since 2010
Occupation: Assistant instructor at UT Southwestern medical center
Education: Ph.D in biochemistry
Residence: United States
Challenges awarded: 1
Challenge won: New Innovative Prophylaxis Approaches to Protect Against OP Pesticide Poisoning ($15,000 Challenge)
I’m an assistant instructor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, specializing in bioinformatics and molecular biology. I was born in Castellón, Spain, where I grew up very interested in science, since my father is a biologist and my mother a chemistry teacher. I obtained a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Barcelona in 1997. While earning my Ph.D. at the University of Valencia, I was privileged to be mentored by Dr. M.D. Ferrando, as well as my own father, who allowed me to open my own research line at one of the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) centers, the Institute of Aquaculture Torre de la Sal, which is located nearby really nice beaches. While working there I realized that innovation was a crucial aspect of science and I began looking for applications of my research into the mechanisms of resistance to oxidative stress and pesticides. That work led to a couple of patents and several papers, one of which was distinguished with the ‘Best Publication Award on Environmental Research’ by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) and AstraZeneca. A few months after defending my PhD in 2003, I received a postdoctoral fellowship to study the effects of oxidative stress on gene regulation with Dr. Bruce Demple at the Harvard School of Public Health. In 2006 I got the chance to lead a project to uncover the molecular events driving kidney cancer and I moved with Dr. James Brugarolas to UT Southwestern, where I received another postdoctoral fellowship from Generalitat Valenciana.
My own family, like many others, has felt directly the devastating effects of cancer: Though I could not help my brother, I have the satisfaction of identifying some genes involved in renal cell carcinoma, as well as a novel transcription factor regulated by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), which plays a critical role in cell growth and is deregulated in about half of human tumors. These findings may create new therapeutic opportunities and someday benefit patients.
The first time I learned about InnoCentive was in an advertisement on nature.com, which got my attention because I knew a good answer to the question it asked. InnoCentive offers a new way of solving problems for companies by reaching out to a wide audience of different backgrounds, but it also gets non-industry-oriented people closer to the issues that really matter to the companies. At the end, innovation promotes the progress of our society and it's very rewarding to be part of it.