PhD from Complutense University of Madrid (1987) and postdoctoral (1988-1991) at the Department of Hematology of the Royal Postgraduate Medical School (Imperial College-London) where I was trained in molecular biology and haematological hereditary diseases. On my return to the UCM I was offered the possibility to start new research lines and in the first ten years converging research topics were opened up in the fields of hereditary anaemia, population genetics and infectious diseases, leading to the consolidation of a stable research group through a continuum of projects funded as IP from 1992 to date. Our laboratory focuses now mainly on research into malaria and related diseases.
For a realistic and recent social impact of our research in the field of infectious diseases I should point out the organization in just 10 days of the initiative COVID-19 Laboratory Network at the Complutense University of Madrid, which I led and coordinated throughout the COVID-19 alarm period (March 14- June 20, 2020) and provided SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics to more than 25.000 residents at >200 nursing homes at Comunidad de Madrid. The significant social impact of this initiative and the immediate availability of a research group prepared for a health emergency of such dimensions would not have been possible without the constant funding since 1992 by the Spanish National Plans but also from other National and International agencies, like EC.
The last 20 years of malaria research in our lab have generated a wealth of technical knowledge, materials and experimental models. These include unique clinical strains and isolates of P. falciparum, P. berghei and P. yoelii, or CHO cells with constructs for the production of recombinant antigens. Also, very expensive blood, serum and saliva samples from 523 individuals from Ghana, 234 from DRC and 152 from various hospitals in Madrid from individuals from endemic areas or infected travellers. In addition, we have and provide asexual cultures and gametocytes of P. falciparum that are used for the discovery of antimalarials through IC50 trials. We also are fulfilled to have developed in 2009 the synchronous culture at high densities of P. falciparum that is allowing us and many others to carry out complex proteomic, immunomic and experimental immunization studies, since without abundant and adequate biological material would not be possible [Radfar et al. 2009 Nature Protocols 4, 1899–1915]
Among other relevant results from our lab we have unravelled molecular mechanisms explaining hereditary hemolytic anemias in humans, focusing on structural aspects, compensatory adaptations in relation to their phenotypic effect and therapeutic potential. More recently we have provided several new molecules with pharmacological potential and have been pioneers in demonstrating, in animal models, that immunity to malaria can be modulated by therapeutic treatments due to the differential mechanism of inhibiting the growth of the parasite in a way that facilitates its exposure to the host immune system. This has led to the development of immunological tracking systems using immunomics and the definition of new animal models of response to malaria.
We have also collaborated in our environment in applied research with other groups, which has allowed us to provide ourselves with a diversified and complementary technology that is currently used to respond to relevant scientific questions, while providing technological support to our academic environment. This career has also been possible thanks to the willingness to form a stable research team in which the members of the group could share responsibilities, add initiatives and integrate efforts with the younger members. Finally, an important additional benefit of our research has also allowed us to meet the current teaching needs of our students (bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees) in a competitive and innovative professional context.
National Award of the Royal National Academy of Pharmacy (Institute of Spain) 2002 ("Deficiencies in Pyruvate Kinase and Hemolytic Anemias") National Award of the Royal National Academy of Pharmacy (Institute of Spain) 2012 ("Standardization of a cerebral malaria murine model in clinical stages for antimalarial and rescue therapies evaluation")