The IIS Biodonostia headquarters in San Sebastian today held the presentation of the “Stop Brain Drain” grant, an initiative launched by Roche Farma, with the aim of retaining research talent who is forced to leave the country due to the lack of resources to develop their projects. The recipient of this latest grant was Estefanía Carrasco, who will be able to continue her research project in the Biodonostia Health Research Institute.

Presented by the Scientific Director of the research institute, Julio Arrizabalaga, with the involvement of the Basque Goverment’s Minister of Health, Jon Darpón and Annarita Gabriele, Medical Director of Roche Farma Spain and attended by the heads of the Department of Health and Osakidetza, as well as the members from the project evaluation committee and clinical practice and research health professionals.

Estefanía Carrasco will be conducting her project “Determining the function of SOX1 in gastric cancer” in the Cellular Oncology research group, led by Ander Matheu, a researcher from Ikerbasque, the Basque Foundation for Science, belonging to the Biodonostia Institute. Alongside an extensive team, the researcher is studying “the molecular mechanisms responsible for the deregulation of stem cells in the aging and cancer processes, mainly in cancers of the digestive system such as gastric cancer”.

Dr. Carrasco has been awarded a 18-month postdoctoral contract following a competitive call organised by the Basque Community to develop this project on gastric cancer, a disease that causes 700,000 deaths a year. Its main purpose is to determine the function of a stem cell regulator gene in this type of cancer, ultimately aiming to advance the diagnosis of the disease and improve its treatment, and thereby increase the prospect of patient survival.

According to the evaluation team, the merits of the nominee’s curriculum, the quality of the proposed project, as well as the research group (scientific production of the head of the group, projects, etc.) were evaluated in the call.

Following presentation of the grant, the grant-recipient researcher stated that “this grant is very positive due to how it is going to allow us to continue this research here in the Basque Country. We as researchers find ourselves with no option but to spend a large part of our time looking for funding for our projects and failing to do so means we end up having to decide whether to abandon it or move abroad”.

Prior to taking up her current position in 2012, Estefanía Carrasco graduated with a degree in Biochemistry from the University Miguel Hernández de Elche (Alicante) and completed her PhD at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMC) (Elche, Alicante), where she carried out researched in alternative therapies for chemo-resistant tumours (glioblastoma multiforme).

She has participated in 23 research projects to date, 8 of which are international (AICR, Marie Curie Framework Programme, etc), and has conducted her own research project as Principal Investigator of a multidisciplinary team of basic and clinical researchers. Her curriculum is topped off with 32 scientific publications (20 scientific articles, 6 reviews, 1 editorial and 5 book chapters), including articles in major journals such as Cancer Research, AJCR and Scientific Reports. She is also the co-inventor of two patents.

In the video you are about to watch, Dr. Carrasco talks about her impression about the fellowship awarded.


You can also listen to the interview here at Onda Vasca (the 1-minute intro is in Basque and the rest is in Spanish):