Mercè Pallàs

Mercè Pallàs

Neuropharmacology of aging and neurodegeneration group is devoted to study molecular pathways implicated in neurodegenerative processes and to perform early preclinical studies in vitro and in vivo studying new compound to fight against Alzheimer’s disease and senescence. After working several years with non pharmacological (Diet, exercise, caloric restriction) and pharmacological strategies (melatonin or resveratrol) in the context of aging and neurodegenerative diseases, as Alzheimer’s disease or Niemann-Pick C, the research group is currently interested in discern the precise mechanisms of action and the molecular pathways implicated of new drugs synthetized by ChemMedPharm group or other medical chemistry collaborators. These include small molecules targeting neuroinflammation, mitochondrial stress, oxidative stress in pathological senescence and the crossroad with epigenetics. Some of the pharmacological targets where we are looking for new drugs are soluble epoxide hydrolase, imidazoline 2 receptors and G9a/GLP methyltransferase.

Mercè Pallàs is Full Professor in Pharmacology in the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutic Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences of the University of Barcelona (UB). He is also a founder member of the Institute of Neuroscience of the Universitat de Barcelona (NeuroUB). She has over 25 years’ experience working on preclinical pharmacology, with focus on cognitive decline in ageing and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). After her PhD in the UB (1991), she spent one year (1992-93) at the Instituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri (Italy) working within the group of Prof. Daniela Corda on GPCR. He returned to Barcelona in 1993 as Associate Professor and was later promoted to Full Professor in 2011.

She has participated as PI in several research projects from public funding agencies and in several research contract with Spanish pharmaceutical companies. She is co-inventor in several patent and patent applications both in new chemical entities with biological activity. So far she has supervised 14 PhD Thesis, and several MSc Research projects.

Her teaching activities have been mainly focused on topics related to Pharmacology, Neuropharmacology, Pharmacology in R+D+I and Ageing.

Team members

Dr Anna Maria Canudas
Tenured University Lecturer

Dr Christian Griñán-Ferré
Lecturer Professor

Dr. Dolors Puigoriol-Illamola
Assistant professor

Foteini Vasilopoulou
PhD Student

Vanessa Izquierdo
PhD Student

Júlia Companys-Alemany
PhD Student

Aina Bellver

PhD Student

Júlia Jarné Ferré
PhD Student

Dra Anna Maria Canudas 

Tenured university lecturer in Pharmacology in the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutic Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences at the University of Barcelona. She has been working on pharmacology research since 1996. At 2001 she obtained her PhD degree in the UB. After that she spent one year (2003-2004) in the “Dipartimento di Fisiologia e Farmacologia Vittorio Erspamer” at the Università La Sapienza di Roma under the supervision of Prof. Ferdinando Nicoletti. During these years, she has focused her work on neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. She has supervised three PhD Thesis. Moreover, she has participated in different research projects from public funding agencies. Pharmacology and neuropharmacology are the principle topics of her teaching activities performed in the UB.





Dr Christian Griñán-Ferré 

Lecturer Professor of Pharmacology at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Science at the University of Barcelona (UB) since 2020. He received his Ph.D in the epigenetic modulation of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) (Biomedical Biotechnology) in 2016 at the UB. During  doctoral thesis, he focused his knowledge in the epigenetic modulation of neurodegeneration and AD. Furthermore, the study of non-pharmacological interventions such as Environmental Enrichment (EE) paradigms in order to find new targets to prevent or cure the cognitive decline. His current research interest is the development of new chemical entities based on epigenetics to ameliorate and to prevent neurodegenerative diseases, including rare disease. He is also interested in the implications of the transgenerational epigenetic inheritance in the cognitive decline risk for the next generation. Pharmacology and drug discovery are the principle topics of his teaching activities in the Faculty of Pharmacy.


Dr Dolors Puigoriol-Illamola

I am assistant professor of Pharmacology at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Science at the University of Barcelona (UB) since 2020. I also belong to Neuropharmacology research group. Within my field of interest, there is aging, Alzheimer’s disease and neuroinflammation. My PhD was focused on studying the cognitive impact of excess cerebral glucocorticoid that occurs while aging and with a stressful lifestyle. I also try to elucidate the mechanisms to reverse the negative effects produced by stress through pharmacological treatments. Specifically, I am based on applying a drug treatment, evaluate cognition and behaviour and investigating which molecular pathways are responsible for those modifications. Previously, I have carried out a placement in the same laboratory with the purpose of unveiling the role of a well-known and potent antioxidant in aged mice.


Foteini Vasilopoulou

In 2016 I obtained my Pharmaceutical Degree in Greece, in the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, after 5 years of intensive studies in Pharmacology, Chemistry and Biology. Since 2017, I have been carrying out my Research PhD at the Faculty of Pharmacy UdB, as a member of Mercè Pallàs group. Within the field of Neuroscience, I have always been interested in Brain Disorders, Nervous System Repair and Drug discovery. My PhD dissertation forms part of a drug discovery project, and combines behavioral studies in animal models with molecular experiments. In particular, it is focused on the pharmacological modulation of the I2-Imidazoline receptors by novel ligands, with the main goal to point out a new target in the fight against cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.


Vanessa Izquierdo

I am PhD student at the University of Barcelona under the supervision of Prof. Mercè Pallàs Lliberia and Prof. Christian Griñán Ferré. I am very interested in study biomolecular and psychological mechanisms that modulate aging and neurodegenerative diseases, principally Alzheimer’s Disease. My studies are about the effect of maternal diets across generations in an accelerated senescence mouse model. Moreover, I study how these environmental factors can modulate epigenetic mechanisms and predispose to manifest neurodegenerative diseases in subsequent generations. I completed my master thesis in Neuroscience in the same laboratory and I graduated in Psychology at Autonomous University of Barcelona.


Júlia Companys-Alemany

At present I am developing the thesis project in order to achieve the PhD under the supervision of Dr M. Pallàs and Dr. C. Griñán-Ferré. My background is a degree in Biotechnology (University Rovira I Virgili) and a Master in Neuroscience (Universtity of Barcelona). In the last 3 years I have participated in different research projects involved in the evaluation of pharmacological intervention in ageing, Alzheimer’s disease and Niemann-Pick disease murine models.




Aina Bellver Sanchis

I am a Pharmacy graduate by the University of Barcelona. As an undergraduate student, I spent time in the Neurosciences group led by Dr. M. Pallàs and Dr. C. Griñán-Ferré participating in different research projects. After graduating, I had the opportunity to do an internship in the Neurosciences Group in Maciel Group  (Universidade do Minho, Braga), where I learned to work with C. Elegans through the study of new targets for Machado Joseph disease. In October 2020, I started my PhD studying the role of the histone methyltransferase G9a/GLP  in neurodegeneration using C. elegans and mice as experimental models.


Neurodegeneration in ageing and neurodegenerative diseases

  We focus our research in the study of the molecular mechanisms involved in behavioral abnormalities and cognitive decline, by using…

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Evaluation of pharmacological treatments in neurodegeneration and cognitive decline murine model to discover and develop new drugs

In this research line, our group is devoted to early preclinical evaluation of new compounds. Basically, we developed experimental strategies…

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This constitutes a new research line initiated by Dr. Christian Griñán-Ferré, by using C. elegans, as well as several mice models…

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Disease-modifying treatment with I 2 imidazoline receptor ligand LSL60101 in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model: a comparative study with donepezil

Vasilopoulou F, Rodríguez-Arévalo S, Bagán A, Escolano C, Griñán-Ferré C, Pallàs M. Disease-modifying treatment with I2 imidazoline receptor ligand LSL60101 in…

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Inhibition of Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase Ameliorates Phenotype and Cognitive Abilities in a Murine Model of Niemann Pick Type C Disease

Griñán-Ferré C, Companys-Alemany J, Jarné-Ferrer J, Codony S, González-Castillo C, Ortuño-Sahagún D, Vilageliu L, Grinberg D, Vázquez S, Pallàs M.…

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Pharmacological Inhibition of Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase as a New Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease

Griñán-Ferré C, Codony S, Pujol E, Yang J, Leiva R, Escolano C, Puigoriol-Illamola D, Companys-Alemany J, Corpas R, Sanfeliu C,…

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Publications at a glance

  • Griñán-Ferré C, Codony S, Pujol E, Yang J, Leiva R, Escolano C, Puigoriol-Illamola D, Companys-Alemany J, Sanfeliu C, Loza MI, Brea J, Morisseau C, Hammock BD, Vázquez S, Pallàs M, Galdeano C. Pharmacological inhibition of soluble epoxide hydrolase as a new therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease. Neurotherapeutics. Accepted March 2020
  • Garcia-Just A, Miró L, Pérez-Bosque A, Amat C, Polo J, Griñán-Ferré C, Pallàs M, Moretó Dietary spray-dried porcine plasma prevents cognitive decline in senescent mice by reducing neuroinflammation and oxidative stress. Journal of Nutrition. 2019 150(2):303-311. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz239. Impact Factor: 4,145 (Q1).
  • Corpas R, Solana E, De la Rosa A, Sarroca S, Griñán-Ferré C, Oriol M, Corbella E, Rodríguez-Farré E,  Vina J,   Pallas M,  Bartrés-Faz M,  Gomez-Cabrera MC,  Sanfeliu C. Peripheral maintenance of the axis SIRT1-SIRT3 during aging is associated with brain resilience in veteran rugby players. Front. Aging Neurosci. 2019. Impact Factor: 4,504 (Q1).
  • Palomera-Ávalos V, Griñán-Ferré C, Izquierdo V, Camins A, Sanfeliu C, Canudas AM, Pallàs M. Resveratrol modulates response against acute inflammatory stimuli in aged mouse brain. Experimental Gerontology,  2018, 102:3-11. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2017.11.014.  Impact Factor: 3,35 (Q1).
  • Sangüesa g, Cascales M Griñán-Ferré C, Sánchez RM, Roglans N, Pallàs, M, Laguna JC, Alegret, M. Impairment of novel object recognition learning and brain insulin signaling in fructose-, but no glucose drinking, female rats. Molecular Neurobiology. 2018;55(8):6984-6999. doi: 10.1007/s12035-017-0863-1 Impact Factor: 5,096 (Q1).
  • Griñán-Ferré C, Corpas R, Puigoriol-Illamola D,Palomera-Ávalos V, Sanfeliu C, Pallàs M.Understanding epigenetics in the neurodegeneration of Alzheimer’s disease: SAMP8 mouse model. Journal of Alzheimer´s Disease. 2018;62(3):943-963. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170664. Impact Factor: 3,731 (Q1).
  • Puigoriol-Illamola D, Griñán-Ferré C, Vasilopoulou F, Leiva R, Vázquez S, Pallàs M. 11β-HSD1 inhibition by RL-118 Promotes Autophagy and Correlates with Reduced Oxidative Stress and Inflammation, Enhancing Cognitive Performance in SAMP8 mouse model. Molecular Neurobiology. 2018;55(12):8904-8915. doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-1026-8 Impact Factor: 5,096 (Q1).
  • Corpas R, Griñán-Ferré C, Rodríguez-Farré E, Pallàs M, Sanfeliu C. Resveratrol induces brain resilience against Alzheimer neurodegeneration through proteostasis enhancement. Molecular Neurobiology. 56(2):1502-1516. doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-1157-y.  2019 :56(2):1502-1516. doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-1157-y. Impact Factor: 5,096 (Q1).
  • Corpás R, Griñán-Ferré C, Palomera V,Porquet D, García de Frutos P, Franciscato-Cozzolino SM, Rodríguez-Farré E, Pallàs M, Sanfeliu C, Cardoso BR. Melatonin induces mechanisms of brain resilience against neurodegeneration. Journal of Pineal Research.  2018 ;65(4):e12515. doi: 10.1111/jpi.12515  Impact Factor: 15,221 (D1).
  • Griñán-Ferré C, Izquierdo V, Otero E, Puigoriol-Illamola D, Corpás R, Sanfeliu C, Ortuño-Sahagún D, Pallàs M. Environmental enrichment improves cognitive deficits, AD hallmarks and epigenetic alterations presented in female 5xFAD mice model: A synergistic effect against neurodegeneration. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. 2018,12:224. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2018.00224 Impact Factor: 4,555 (Q1).
  • Cosín-Tomás M, Álvarez-López MJ, Companys-Alemany J, Kaliman P, González-Castillo C, Ortuño-Sahagún D, Pallàs M, Griñán-Ferré, C. Temporal integrative analysis of mRNA and microRNAs expression profiles and epigenetic alterations in female SAMP8, a model of age-related. Frontiers in Genetics. 2018;9:596. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2018.00596. Impact Factor: 4,151 (Q1)
  • Akiguchi I, Pallàs M, Budka H, Akiyama H, Ueno M, Han J, Yagi H, Nishikawa T, Chiba Y, Sugiyama H, Takahashi R, Unno K, Higuchi K, Hosokawa M. SAMP8 mice as a neuropathological model of accelerated brain aging and dementia: Toshio Takeda’s legacy and future directions. Neuropathology. 2017 Aug;37(4):293-305. doi: 10.1111/neup.12373
  • Palomera-Ávalos V, Griñán-Ferré C, Izquierdo V, Camins A, Sanfeliu C, Pallàs M. Metabolic stress induces cognitive disturbances and inflammation in aged mice: role of resveratrol. Rejuvenation Research, 2017 20(3):202-217. doi: 10.1089/rej.2016.1885. Impact Factor: 3,311 (Q1).
  • Leiva R, Griñan-Ferré C, Seira C, Valverde E, McBride A, Binnie M, Pérez B, Luque FJ, Pallàs M, Bidon-Chanal A, Webster SP, Vázquez S. Design, synthesis and in vivo study of novel pyrrolidine-based 11β-HSD1 inhibitors for age-related cognitive dysfunction. Eur J Med Chem 2017 20;139:412-428. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2017.08.003. Impact Factor: 4,519 (Q1).
  • Griñan-Ferré C, Pérez-Cáceres D, Gutiérrez-Zetina SM, Camins A, Palomera-Avalos V, Ortuño-Sahagún D, Rodrigo MT, Pallàs, M.  Environmental Enrichment Improves Behavior, Cognition, and Brain Functional Markers in Young Senescence-Accelerated Prone Mice (SAMP8). Molecular Neurobiology 2016:53(4):2435-50. doi: 10.1007/s12035-015-9210-6.Impact Factor:  6,190  (Q1).
  • Palomera-Ávalos V, Griñán-Ferré C, Puigoriol-Ilamola D, Camins A, Sanfeliu C, Canudas AM, Pallàs M. Resveratrol Protects SAMP8 Brain Under Metabolic Stress: Focus on Mitochondrial Function and Wnt Pathway. Molecular Neurobiology.  2017 54(3):1661-1676. doi: 10.1007/s12035-016-9770-0. Impact Factor: 5,096 (Q1).
  • Griñán-Ferré C, Palomera-Ávalos V, Puigoriol-Illamola D, Camins A, Porquet D, Pla V, Aguado F, Pallàs M. Behaviour and cognitive changes correlated with hippocampal neuroinflammaging and neuronal markers in female SAMP8, a model of accelereated senescence. Experimental Gerontology. 2016 80:57-69. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2016.03.014. Impact Factor : 3,35 (Q1).
  • Griñan-Ferré C, Puigoriol-Illamola D,  Palomera-Ávalos V, Pérez-Cáceres D, Companys J, Camins A, Ortuño-Sahugún D, Rodrigo  MT, Pallàs M. Environmental enrichment modified epigenetic mechanisms in SAMP8 mouse hippocampus by reducing oxidative stress and inflammaging and achieving neuroprotection.  Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2016 18;8:241. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2016.00241. Impact Factor : 4,348 (Q1).
  • Griñán-Ferré C, Sarroca S, Ivanova A, Camins A, Sanfeliu C, Pallas M. Epigenetic mechanisms underlying cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease hallmarks in 5XFAD mice.  Aging 2016 (4):664-84. DOI: 10.18632/aging.100906. Impact Factor: 6,432 (Q1).

Selected Projects

Estudio de una nueva diana farmacológica para la enfermedad de Alzheimer: modulación del estrés oxidativo y la función mitocondrial. Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad SAF2016-77703-C2-1-R. Funds: 133.100,00 from: 2016 to:2019 PI: Mercè Pallàs

Identificación de moduladores dietéticos del envejecimiento cognitivo y plasticidad cerebral, y evidencia del concepto de eficacia en la prevención/reversión del declive cognitivo. Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. Universidad de Barcelona PCIN-2015-229 Funds: 120.000, from: 2016 from: 2018. PI: Mercè Pallas

Evaluación de la eficacia de inhibidores epigenéticos en modelos experimentales de patologías humana. Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. Biomedicina (SAF) RETOS-COLABORACIÓN, dentro del Programa Estatal de Investigación, Desarrollo e innovación Orientada a los Retos de la Sociedad. Convocatoria 2015 ORYZON Genomics S.L./UB PI: Mercè Pallas /UAB de Barcelona. SRTC1500C003898XV0

Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology of Neurodegenerative Diseases SGRC – Ajuts de Suport als Grups de Recerca de Catalunya (SGR) – Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca (AGAUR) 2017SGR106 Funds 20.000,00 , from: 2017 from: 2020. PI. Diego Muñoz-Torrero López-Ibarra

Regulación epigenética de la respuesta inflamatoria (RETOS COLABORACION) 2016 – 2018. Ref.RTC-2016-4955-1. Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad . IF: Mercè Pallàs


Study of OG-S436 and OG-S437 effects on behavior. Cerebro espinal Fluid extraction in the senescence accelerated murine P8 model. Oryzon Genomics, S.A Funds: 69,907.75 , from: 2015 from: 2016 PI: Mercè Pallàs

Study of neuroprotective role of OG-S436 in the senescence accelerated murine P8 model. Oryzon Genomics, S.A Funds: 5.674,12, from: 2015 to: 2016 PI: Mercè Pallas

Study of anxiolytic activity of OG-S09 in the senescence accelerated murine P8 model. Oryzon Genomics, S.A Funds: 14.895, from: 2015 to : 2015 PI: Mercè Pallas

A New family of sEH inhibitors for AD. CI17-00053 Fundació Caixa de Pensions ‘La Caixa’ Funds: 57.851,24 , from: 2017 to: 2019 PI: Mercè Pallàs; Carlos Galdeano

Novel compounds for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. CI18-00002 Fundació Caixa de Pensions ‘La Caixa’ Funds: 70.000 From: 2018 to: 2020 PI: Mercè Pallàs; Maria Carmen Escolano

Products in cognitive decline by using the senescence-accelerated murine P8 model (SAMP8). Biosearch S.A. Funds: 073,17 €1 From: 2019 to: 2020. PI: Mercè Pallàs

Efficacy study of compounds OG-S2323, OG-S2324 and OG-S2325 on memory and social behavior in SAMP8 mice. Oryzon Genomics, S.A. Funds: 464,50 € From: 2019 to: 2020 PI: Mercè Pallàs

Inhibidors de l’epòxid hidrolasa soluble per fer front a la malaltia de Niemman-Pick C. 2018 LLAV 00007 Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca AGAUR Funds: 20.000,00 € From: 2019 to: 2020 PI: Christian Griñán-Ferré


Synthetic I2 Imidazoline receptor ligands for prevention or treatment of human brain disorders.
María Carmen Escolano, Mercè Pallàs Lliberia, Christian Gaspar Griñán Ferré, Sònia Abás, Luis-Felipe Callado Hernando, Jesús A. García Sevilla.


Methods of treating behavior alterations.
Tamara Maes, David Rotllant Pozo, Christian Griñán-Ferré, Mercè Pallàs Lliberia, Roser Nadal Alemany, Antonio Armario García.
Pub. NO.: WO/2019/025588

Composiciones para uso en el tratamiento de trastornos cognitivos.
Mónica Olivares Martín. Luis Pérez Martínez. Óscar Bañuelos Hortigüela. José Luís López Larramendi. Mercè Pallàs Lliberia. Cristian Gaspar Griñan Ferre.


Dr Coral Sanfeliu Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona (IBB), CSIC and IDIBAPS, Barcelona, Spain. And CIBER Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), Madrid, Spain.

Dr Daniel Ortuño Sahagún Instituto de Investigación en Ciencias Biomédicas (IICB) Departamento de Biología Molecular y Genómica Centro Universitario de Ciencias de la Salud Universidad de Guadalajara. Mexico.

Dr Ana Coto Montes Departamento de Morfologia y Biología Celular. Universidad de Oviedo. España

Dr Gemma Casadesus Department of Biological Science. Kent State University. Ohio, USA

Dr Shukkoor Kondengaden Chemistry Department and Center for Diagnostics and Therapeutics, Georgia State University, Atlanta, USA

Dr B.D. Hammock and Dr. C. Morisseau Department of Entomology and Nematology and Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, Davis, California, USA.


Dr. Mercè Pallàs

Section of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences
University of Barcelona
Tel. 93 4024531

ORCID: 0000-0003-3095-4254
Scopus Author ID:
Researcher ID:   H-3129-2016