Maria José Currás

María José Currás-Tuala

Researcher

“… The immune system is an amazing machinery and we have to learn from it; because it recognizes, responds and memorizes bad things and learns enough to never suffer the same damage..."

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I am graduate of BSc in Pharmaceutical and Biological Chemistry at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, I got a master’s degree in Biotechnology with a specialization in Biomedicine at the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (USC); and I am currently a PhD student at the USC in the molecular medicine program.

I am a Mexican woman that has been living in Galicia (Spain) for the last 7 years, and this is a brief story about my scientific career.

I got involved in biomedical research when I was finishing college, it just happened, I didn't look for the opportunity, the opportunity knocked on my door. In 2005, I started working in the Department of molecular and cellular therapy at the Center for Innovation and Transfer in Health at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) in collaboration with pediatricians and neonatologists. In this laboratory I gained a lot of experience in the world of cell cultures and learned many techniques to understand cell biology, I also developed skills for the experimental design for biomedical sciences. My work focused on the immune response (a subject that I love), oxidative stress and the evaluation of the antioxidant effect of proteins and molecules isolated from plants on cellular and animal models.

Then in 2008, I had the opportunity to learn and work in sales of scientific technology (Bio Rad). This allowed me to know other face of R&D; I learned how some technologies work, which would help me later to know how, when and why to use certain techniques.

I didn’t want to just know names of things.

I remember really wanting to know how it all worked.”

— Elizabeth Blackburn

Afterwards, in the 2009 pandemic influenza A(H1N1), I started working at the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory for infectious diseases (Mexican Social Security Institute) where I was certified to make the diagnosis of Influenza, measles and dengue.

My next adventure was waiting for me in another continent, I came to Santiago in 2012 to study a master’s degree in Biotechnology. I did my experimental research project in the Laboratory for Vascular Biology at the Center for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Disease (CIMUS-USC), it involved gene therapy and cell signaling pathways. I greatly improve my skills in genetic editing techniques, many in vitro assays, use of different types of microscopes and I learned a lot about the cell biology process.

Later in 2014, I had the restlessness to learn and probe the nanotechnology area. I was in NanoBiofar group (CIMUS-USC) and in the Laboratory of Translational Nano-Oncology at the Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de Santiago de Compostela (IDIS). My project was focused in a nanosystem as immune- and gene- therapy to induce direct and indirect immunogenic cell death in the tumor microenvironment.

I started my PhD joined to the present IDIS group in 2015 with a thesis project on an ultra-rare disease (Progressive Oseous Heteroplasia) advised by Prof. Antonio Salas Ellacuriaga and the Prof. Federico Martinón Torres. My work focuses on the isolation, culture and cryopreservation of cells from different types of patient samples. I develop functional assays to observe the immune response, cell differentiation, pathway analysis, genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic and proteomic analysis. In addition, I participate in clinical trials in vaccines and testing whole blood stimulation. During this period, I have improved my skills in primary cell culture, proteomic analysis, digital multiplexed gene expression analysis using NanoString and data analysis with R software.

Multidisciplinarity is one of the greatest strengths of our group, each of us has a different professional profile, but we all contribute and work together as a great team. Here I found a great treasure; I learn something different every day!

#WomeninSTEM

Publications within the group