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24th Doctors’ Senate Award honors a thesis on mechanobiology

The Doctors’ Senate Award was created in 1997 to honor the doctoral theses that are presented at the University of Barcelona representing the most relevant contributions to the field of human knowledge and science progress.

The Doctors’ Senate Award was created in 1997 to honor the doctoral theses that are presented at the University of Barcelona representing the most relevant contributions to the field of human knowledge and science progress.

Roger Oria wins this award for his thesis on mechanobiology.

Roger Oria wins this award for his thesis on mechanobiology.

03/02/2021

Institucional

Biomechanical mechanisms used by cells to detect the position of molecules –or ligands– and find changes in the extracellular matrix is the base of the doctoral thesis by researcher Roger Oria, awardee of the 24th Doctors’ Senate Award corresponding to the year 2020.

The awarded thesis, titled Cell sensing of the extracellular environment: Roles of matrix rigidity, ligand density, and ligand distribution, is supervised by Pere Roca-Cusachs, lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and member of the Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology of the UB and IBEC.

Mechanobiology: a new perspective in biological processes

Cells can detect their environment and this skill is essential to maintain the function of tissues and detect changes (cell growth, tumor proliferation, etc.). Through focal adhesions, structures formed by transmembrane and also adaptive proteins, cells adapt and detect the physical properties of the extracellular matrix.

“Focal adhesions act as a kind of “cell shoe”, providing traction and attachment to the surrounding tissues. Moreover, cells also change focal adhesions to adapt to different tissues and their features (for instance, tumor growth)”, notes Roger Oria.

Among other scientific contributions, the awarded thesis reveals for the first time how cells are able to receive spatial and physical data at a nanometric scale. To date, the most accepted hypothesis defended that cells could use some type of pattern molecule in this process. In particular, the doctoral thesis states that the used mechanism to perceive the extracellular environment is regulated by the force detection that depend on ligand spatial distribution. This research line within the innovative discipline of mechanobiology can contribute to identify new tools to stop pathologies that are associated with the rigidity of tissues (cancer, liver fibrosis), among other potential applications.

The jury of the 24th Doctors’ Senate Award has given the accessit of the Award to researcher Roger Aluja, for his thesis Comentari referencial a Odissea 11. Un estudi sobre l’estètica de la poesia oral a partir de la repetició i variació dels elements tradicionals, supervised by Jaume Pòrtulas, professor at the Faculty of Philology and Communication. The second accessit was given to Míriam Potrony, for her thesis Characterization of genetic factors associated with melanoma susceptibility and prognosis, supervised by Susana Puig, lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Also, the jury gave two recognition diplomas to the candidates of the theses that were finalists in the process. These have been awarded to Ricard Alert, for the thesis Forces and flows in cells and tissues. Blebs, active gels, and collective cell migration, supervised by Jaume Casademunt, professor at the Department of Condensed Matter Physics of the Faculty of Physics, and Miren Taberna, awarded for the thesis Aetiological role and prognostic value of Human papillomavirus in oropharyngeal cancer patients, co-supervised by Ricard Mesia Nin and M. Eulàlia Alemany, from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), and presented at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the UB.

The Doctors’ Senate Award was created in 1997 to honor the doctoral theses that are presented (oral examinations) at the University of Barcelona representing the most relevant contributions to the field of human knowledge and science progress. Every year, this award intends to share and promote the work carried out by the young doctorands of the UB and therefore collaborate in the diffusion of the academic and social prestige of the doctoral degree, the highest academic level students can achieve within the university institution.

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