Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Former Presidents

Board of Directors

Judit Jmenez Sainz

Judit Jiménez Sainz


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Judit is a biochemist and geneticist who researches why certain women with BRCA2 mutations have an increased risk of female cancers and how to prevent and cure it at the molecular level. Judit joined ECUSA in 2015 and since then, she has actively participated in the Advisory program and co-directed the E-visibility program, highlighting novel research and researchers’ endeavors. Judit was elected President of ECUSA in May 2021. Her engagement focuses on bringing ECUSA community together and on moving ECUSA to a global recognized non-profit association with the united growth of all the members. She joined the Faculty Advisory Council at Yale in November 2020 to represent the research associate scientists at Yale Medical School and advocate for the benefits and professional development of this group of scientists. Judit wants to promote equity, diversity and leadership skills. She is an advocate of Women in Science. Judit strongly believes that the members of ECUSA and the new generation of STEMM can be a engine to move our planet to a better one. Judit is one of 75 women leaders selected for Homeward Bound Program 5(#HB5). Judit gets energy from family, dance, nature, meditation and, spending time with others. She strongly values curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and exploring outside her comfort zone.

Alma Perez Perrino

Alma Eva Pérez Perrino

Vicepresident / Secretary

PhD in Physics from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine. PhD in Physics from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine. She develops and apply new High Speed Atomic Force Microscopy (HS-AFM) methods for the study of the dynamics and structure of membrane proteins.

David Medina


David is a Chemical Engineering PhD student at Northeastern University, working on the use of nanomaterials synthesized by alternative routes for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacterial diseases and chemotherapy-resistant cancer. David is the founder of The Green Chemistry Lab, an independent research division focused on Green Nanotechnology and nanomedicine, and founder of two biomedical startups. Since 2019, David has been ECUSA’s national treasurer and an active member of the Boston chapter.

Carlos Merino

Carlos A. Merino

Boston chapter President

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Civil Engineer from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Masters in Civil / Structural Engineering from Saint Louis University. Professional Engineer with +5 years of experience specializing in transportation infrastructure projects. He works as a Structural / Bridge Engineer at CDR Maguire Inc. in Boston, MA.

Gloria Hernandez Torres

Gloria Hernández

California Chapter President

PhD in Organic Chemistry from the Universidad Autonoma of Madrid and the University of Strasbourg. She developed her passion for medicinal chemistry and biological chemistry during her postdoctoral stay at The Scripps Institute in La Jolla and as a Juan de la Cierva researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid. She came back to San Diego to begin a new adventure in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. She is currently working at Takeda Pharmaceuticals where she is researching to find new drugs for the treatment and cure of various diseases of the digestive system.

Ignacio Garcia

Ignacio García Gómez

Midwest chapter President

Ignacio Garcia Gomez- Research Assistant Professor at Northwestern University. PhD in Biology from the Complutense University of Madrid. He did his doctoral thesis at the Ramon y Cajal University Hospital and worked as a Post-Doc in the Cell Therapy Laboratory of the University Hospital of La Paz in Madrid. In 2011 he moved to the US thanks to a Ramon Areces Foundation grant to start working at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is currently Research Assistant Professor at Northwestern University studying the development and differentiation mechanisms of inner hair cells and outer hair cells in the inner ear.

María Tello Lafoz

Nueva York chapter President

María finished her doctoral thesis at the Department of Immunology and Oncology of the National Center of Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC) in Madrid, Spain. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The main goal of her research is to increase the effectiveness of immunotherapies based on cytotoxic lymphocytes by altering the biophysical properties of tumor cells.

Sonia Villapol

Sonia Villapol

Texas Chapter President

Sonia Villapol graduated in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Santiago de Compostela in 2003, and obtained her PhD in Neurosciences at the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona in 2007. She worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Pierre and Marie Curie VI University and INSERM in Paris, France, until 2010 when she moved to the USA to work at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the Uniformed Services University in Maryland. In 2014, he joined the Department of Neuroscience at Georgetown University (Washington, DC) as Research Assistant Professor. Since 2018 she is a Professor of Neurosurgery at the Neuroregeneration Center at Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas and an Affiliate Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. She published more than 40 research articles. Her lab receives NIH funding and her research focuses on finding treatments for brain damage by targeting inflammatory mediators that connect the brain to the periphery.

Jorge Gómez Deza

Washington DC Chapter President

Jorge studied his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at University College London and his PhD in neuroscience in King’s College London. After defending his thesis, he joined the National Institutes of Health in Washington DC as a postdoctoral fellow. His research tries to understand why human neurons die in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, ALS or chronic pain. It order to do so, Jorge generates human neurons “in a dish” and performs high throughput assays to uncover novel therapeutic targets for these conditions.

Executive Committee

Leire Abalde Atristain


Leire is a neuroscientist from Donostia-San Sebastian who completed her undergraduate studies in Biotechnology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a master’s in Biomedical Research at the Pompeu Fabra University, also in Barcelona. Sponsored by a predoctoral fellowship from the La Caixa Foundation, Leire moved to the US in 2013 to obtain her doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University, where she was recognized with a Young Investigator Award for her thesis work. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Marc Freeman at Oregon Health & Science University, where she studies the role of glial cells in the degeneration of neurons in the central nervous system. Leire joined the ECUSA’s e-Visibility program in 2020 because of her passion for science communication, her conviction that without Science there is no future, and her STEMinist ideals. Since 2021 she also leads MECUSA in its mission to empower women scientists, improve their visibility, and advocate for gender equity in science.

Cristina Sastre

Cristina Sastre

Chair EPO (Education & Public Outreach)

She studied biology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and did her internship at the assisted reproduction unit of the Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron. After graduating she moved to Madrid where she took a Master’s degree in molecular biomedicine at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and then began her doctoral studies at the Vascular Pathology Laboratory of the Instituto de Investigaciones Sanitarias of the Fundación Jiménez Díaz with a thesis on the inflammation of atherosclerotic plaque. In February 2016 she moved to Boston to start as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. W. Taylor Kimberly’s neurology lab at Massachusetts General Hospital to investigate mechanisms of inflammation in stroke.

Alvaro Curiel

Alvaro Curiel

CDA (Career Development & Advisory) Chair

He has double B.Sc. in Biology and Biochemistry (University of Navarra), and he performed his doctoral thesis at the National Center for Oncological Research on chemoresistance mechanisms and animal models for brain tumors. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University where he participates and focuses on identifying personalized therapies for patients with pancreatic cancer in collaboration with the Presbyterian Hospital of NY. Alvaro is the current Director of Career Development and Advisory commission as well as an active member of the New York chapter and the MECUSA commission.

Nuria Coll-Bonfill

Communication Chair

PhD in Biology from Universitat de Barcelona. – She is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department in Saint Louis University (Missouri). Her research mainly aims to elucidate DNA repair mechanisms which might impact vascular disease in laminopathies such as Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome. Her passion and motivation for science communication bring her to be the Chair of Communication.

Former Presidents

Ignacio Ugarte-Urra

Ignacio Ugarte Urra

Founding President

Teresa Nieves Chinchilla

Teresa Nieves Chinchilla

Fomer President

Cristina Vazquez-Mateo

Cristina Vázquez Mateo

Fomer President

Francisco Martín Martínez

Franciso Martín Martínez

Fomer President

Alicia Perez-Porro

Alicia Pérez-Porro

Fomer President

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Stela Álvarez Fernández

Stela Álvarez Fernández

Former Vicepresident