Organising committee

Javier Pardo

I studied Biotechnology at the Technical University of Madrid (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid – UPM), specialising in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. At the moment, I am studying a doctorate in Statistics at the University of Oxford. My thesis focuses on the design of bioinformatics tools for the study of the changes in the gene expression of Rhizobium leguminosarum. Specifically, I am interested in the generation and study of gene coexpression networks. From a more general perspective, I have been involved in the management of the MCR (Middle Common Room) of Keble College (University of Oxford), becoming President during the academic year 2018/19. I belong to the working group of the Oxford constituency of CERU, being also its Press and Online delegate. In addition, I am involved in the CERU Scientific Policy Department. My interests are quite diverse and include research, bioinformatics, science communication, management and politics.



Marta Acebrón


Marta graduated from the University of Navarra in Pamplona where she completed both degrees in biochemistry and biology. After obtaining an Master’s in Oviedo, she completed her PhD at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO) in 2018 working on fragment based drug discovery of focal adhesion kinase. Then joined the Biochemestry depratment of University of Cambridge in November 2018 as PosDoc. Her current work, in Professor Sir Tom Blundell lab, it is frocus in drug design against Mycobacterium leprae.



Fidel Alfaro


Fidel studied Computer Sciences at Universidad de Granada (Spain) in 2006, obtained a Masters Degree in Artificial Intelligence from UNED (Spain) in 2011, and is completing his DPhil in Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Oxford. Between those degrees he worked as a Software Engineer in Spanish private consultancy companies and spent a year at CERN (Switzerland). He has worked in brain imaging analysis in Madrid (2011 to 2013) and Oxford (2013 to present day) where he started his DPhil. His research is focused on developing fully automated analyses tools for the UK Biobank Project, the largest brain imaging study to date. In this project his aim is to develop new methods for multimodal-imaging population modelling using supervised machine learning methods, with the ultimate goal being to find early biomarkers of brain diseases. His personal interests include science policy, public engagement and science communication, making him join the Working Group from Oxford Constituency (where he is the Secretary at the moment), the Science Policy Department and the committees for the 4th, 5th, and 8th International Symposium SRUK/CERU. 

He always feels weird when he writes about himself in the third person.


Sandra Álvarez


Sandra is a PhD candidate in computational biology at Queen Mary University of London. Since she finished her undergraduate studies in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (URV, Spain), she has focused her academic career on the field of bioinformatics. This interest was triggered by her final degree project at the University of Manchester, where she enjoyed troubleshooting and implementing an existing in-house pipeline for virtual screenings, even she did not have a strong background in coding at that moment! Afterwards, during her postgraduate studies, she has learnt to code in several programming languages (R, Perl, python, UNIX/Linux), specialised in Bayesian statistics analyses; and applied and developed computational phylogenetic methods to study species evolution. Currently, she is finishing her last year as a PhD student at dos Reis lab at Queen Mary University of London, where she has been developing and applying computational and statistical methods based on Bayesian statistics to study species evolution using molecular and morphological data. Since she joined SRUK/CERU in 2017, she has been an active member of the SRUK/CERU London working group and the SRUK/CERU press department. She is currently the secretary and press officer of the SRUK/CERU London constituency and chief editor of the SRUK/CERU blog. 

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Virgínia Casablancas


Virgínia is a 3 rd year PhD student at the Systems Approaches to Biomedical Sciences Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Oxford, under the supervision of Prof. Andrew Baldwin (Department of Chemistry) and Dr. Gary Sharman (Lilly UK). Her research focuses on unravelling the mechanisms of protein aggregation and inhibition by small molecules in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. She previously studied an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2014), including an Erasmus stay at the University of St Andrews. Then she moved to London to undertake a Masters by Research in Molecular Biophysics at King’s College London (2015-2016), funded by a Fellowship to extend studies in Europe by “LaCaixa“ Foundation, during which she carried out research in immunoglobulin E structure and allostery with Prof. James McDonnell. Her interest in structural and molecular biology has also led her to undertake research projects in RNA crystallisation (Amgen Scholars Program 2014 at the Institute of Structural Biology, Helmholtz Zentrum München, supervised by Prof. Dierk Niessing) and molecular determinants of resistance to retroviruses (summer internship at Kinki University, Osaka, supervised by Prof. Masaaki Miyazawa).

Outside the lab, she enjoys playing the cello in the Oxford Millenium Orchestra and playing table tennis with the university team, as well as being a part of the Working Group of SRUK’s Oxford Constituency.


Sergio Cerezo


I completed my degree in Biology and a Master in Biotechnology at the University of Málaga in 2007. As an undergraduate student, I had the opportunity to participate in a small research project developing micro-propagation protocols in Paulownia sp. and be immersed in research. I completed my PhD studying the regeneration and genetic transformation of the olive tree (Olea europaea L.) at the University of Málaga in 2013. In 2016 I joined Rothamsted Research, an institute focused on agricultural sciences. As a post-doctoral researcher, I contribute to a well-established genetic improvement programme towards the development of technologies to enable gene functional analysis in willow and poplar. I joined SRUK/CERU in 2016 and became part of the Working Group of the Oxford Constituency in December 2019.



Cristina Delgado


Cristina graduated in Pharmacy for the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares in 1981 and received the Prize “Jose Lucas Gallego” from La Real Academia de Farmacia in January 1982. She joined the Department of Biochemistry to undertake research studies on the properties of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase throughout the differentiation of red blood cells. Her MPhil and a PhD were obtained in 1983 and 1986 and were awarded Prizes by the Consejo General de Colegios de Farmacia in 1984 and Real Academia de Farmacia (Premio Ascension Vidal) in 1987, respectively. During her first post-doctoral position at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School (now part of UCL), Cristina was the principal investigator in the development of new technologies for the PEGylation of proteins, liposomes and viruses which innovation lead to seven patent families. In order to commercialise the technology, in 1995 Cristina together with Drs Gillian Francis and Derek Fisher founded PolyMASC Pharmaceuticals plc, the first biotechnology start-up in England to get the initial funding via a flotation in AIM of the London Stock Exchange. She continued her scientific career as Director of Pharmacological Research contributing to the development of the technology in the laboratory (implementing SOPs, developing scale-up, etc) and also the strategic development of the patent portfolio to maximise commercial success. In 1999, Cristina played a pivotal role during the sale of PolyMASC to Valentis Inc, a biotech located in Burlingame near San Francisco. After completing the successful transfer of the technology to California in 2001, Cristina has continued her scientific activity in the United Kingdom as an independent consultant in various projects for biotech companies and also as an expert witness in litigations between pharmaceutical companies.


Irene Echevarría


Irene Echeverria Altuna moved to London to study a BSc in Neuroscience at University College London (UCL) in 2014. During her time at UCL, she carried out a research project on chronic pain under Prof. Steve Hunt’s supervision. In 2017, she was awarded the la Caixa fellowship for postgraduate studies, in order to study the Dual Master in Brain and Mind Sciences, offered by UCL, École Normale Supérieure (ENS) and Sorbonne Université. During her Master, she researched the sleeping brain under the supervision of Dr. Dan Bendor (UCL) and Dr. Sid Kouider (ENS). Since September 2019, she lives in Oxford, where she has joined the Wellcome Trust MSc + DPhil programme in Neuroscience.  During her PhD, she will be studying brain oscillations. Irene joined CERU/SRUK in 2015, as part of London Constituency’s working group. She has also worked alongside with SIEF (Sociedad de Investigadores Españoles en Francia) in Paris and is now part of the SRUK Oxford working group. Besides neuroscience, she enjoys science communication and writing.



Carlos Fresneda


Dr Carlos Fresneda-Portillo is Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at Oxford Brookes University. Carlos is passionate about teaching all sorts of Mathematics at university level. His research is focused on the existence of solution of differential and integral equations that model engineering applications such as heat transfer or motion of fluids. Furthermore, he delivers courses for the employees of the Office for National Statistics.




José Pedro Manzano


Jose Pedro Manzano (Caceres, 1994) studied Electronic Engineering (Degree, UCM, 2012-2016) and specialized in Artificial Intelligence (MRes, UNED, 2016-2017) and Data Science (MSc, UPM, 2017/2018). As a researcher, he started in the Neural Rehabilitation Group of the Instituto Cajal (CSIC) as an intern student, working on neuromodulation and neurofeedback platforms (2016). Between 2016 and 2018, he researched at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) about the progression of subclinical atherosclerosis and the links between heart and brain diseases. Currently, he is a PhD fellow at the University of Nottingham, working on the multimodal biophysical modeling of the brain connectome for the Human Connectome Project (HCP) and the UK Biobank.

I consider that Science, even more when it is supported by public fundings, should bring a service to Society. Social paradigms changed faster and faster during the last 2 centuries. Unfortunately, we are checking how the politic and legislative systems were not designed to be able to follow this accelerated pace; even we, scientific and researchers, do feel how we are surpassed in our field of investigation by this rhythm. What are the real risks of genetic therapies? Who is responsible if an AI algorithm fails? What is the forecasting of resources for the next 50 years with our old population?… I would say most of these issues could have a good solution if we are willing to be prepared for them. Therefore, a greater need today than ever before, I think the Science Policy is a powerful and essential tool to support objective policies and to help to prepare us for the exciting wave of changes we are going to experience.


Mercedes Regadío


Mercedes obtained her PhD on Earth Science and the Environment in the Dept of Geology and Geochemistry, Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM, 2012), while she was appointed as a teaching assistant (2008-2013). During this period, she assessed the attenuation of leachate contaminants by real field clayey substrata obtained from boreholes under old landfills. Afterwards, Mercedes joined the Dept of Chemistry, in the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven), where she worked as a researcher on the recovery of critical metals from industrial process residues and from low ores by solvometallurgical solvent extraction and leaching (2014-2018). Her work also addressed the challenges of current analytical techniques to measure low concentrated elements in complex matrices. Currently, she is a Marie Curie Individual Fellow working on High Attenuation Recycling Materials as sustainable barriers for waste disposal sites (HARM), in the Groundwater Protection and Restoration Group (GPRG), together with the Geotechnical Engineering Group (Geo) of the University of Sheffield, UK. Other of her professional activities are: associate editor of Heliyon Earth Science (Cell Press, ElSevier), public engagement speaker and mentorship-supervision of early stage and post-doctoral researchers.

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Alba Rodriguez


Alba Rodriguez-Meira is a molecular biologist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, where she tries to understand how certain genetic errors give rise to leukaemia, an aggressive type of blood cancer. She completed her BSc in Biotechnology at the University of Salamanca (Spain) in 2014, developing a strong interest in biomedical research. She then moved to Imperial College London (UK) to study an MRes in Cancer Biology and in 2015, she was awarded a Cancer Research UK scholarship to undertake her PhD at the University of Oxford. She is an active member of SRUK/CERU, where she is part of the Cancer Committee and organizer of the 8th SRUK Symposium.



Helena Rodriguez


I graduated in Biochemistry at The University of Navarra (UNAV, Spain) in 2014. During my undergraduate I classified for the Research Training Program in Biochemistry and Biomedicine and I did my final year in The University of Hong Kong (HKU). In 2015, I obtained an MSc in Clinical Embryology at The University of Oxford (Best Research Project award). In 2019, I obtained my DPhil (PhD) on Women’s and Reproductive Health also at Oxford University thanks to the Rafael del Pino Postgraduate Scholarship and the Gustav Born Scholarship in Biomedical Sciences. Afterwards, I worked in this university as a postdoctoral research assistant in the OxWATCH project at the Nuffield Department of Women’s & Reproductive Health. Currently, I am a postdoctoral research scientist at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics, University of Oxford, investigating the role of NFAT transcription factors in vasculature development during embryogenesis.

My main research interests right now are vasculogenesis and the role of transcription factors on cell identity and endothelial heterogeneity. I am also still actively interested in women’s and reproductive health and extracellular vesicles. In addition, I am keen on the translation of research and public engagement. I became part of the Working Group of the Oxford Constituency of SRUK/CERU in July 2019.   


Teresa Vilanova


Teresa Vilanova, estudiante de doctorado en la Universidad de Oxford, investigando como emplear herramientas nanomoleculares para el estudio y el tratamiento no invasivo de la infertilidad. Previamente he realizado un máster en biotecnología de la reproducción humana asistida por la Universidad de Valencia y el Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad (IVI), durante el cual realicé una estancia de 6 meses junto al equipo de medicina reproductiva del Instituto de Investigaciones Sanitarias (IIS) del Hospital La Fe, bajo la dirección del Dr. Antonio Pellicer,  poniendo en marcha el octavo programa de fertilidad en Europa para niños con cáncer. 

Entre mis intereses se incluyen la música, el emprendimiento y soy también miembro del comité de Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (ARCS) además de formar parte en el working group de la delegación de CERU en Oxford .



Larissa Zarate


Larissa obtained a BSc in Biology at the University of Salamanca and a MSc in Human Assisted Reproduction at the Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad, where she specialised in  embryonic stem cells and genetic preimplantational diagnostic. She quickly moved from clinical to research work and earned a PhD at the University of Southampton by studying whether female mammals contain germline stem cells in their ovaries, and the possibility that they give rise to competent eggs that can be used in IVF. She is currently working at Imperial College London as Flow Cytometry Specialist, where she is applying her knowledge of stem cell phenotyping to high-speed flow cytometry analysis.