MECUSA

ECUSA with M for ‘Mujer’

MECUSA is an interdisciplinary program of ECUSA that aims to promote the role of women in science. In MECUSA we work in (i) awareness of the gender gap that exists in the science world, (ii) we educate future and present generations about the importance of the role of women in science, and (iii) we seek solutions to the loss of women in science in so many scientific careers.

Anyone interested in our commission can email us to the following email address: mecusa@ecusa.es

MECUSA Team

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Carmen Morcelle

Chair MECUSA

Carmen is a biomedical scientist who currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard (Cambridge, MA), where she is dedicated to understanding the functioning of the immune system. After finishing a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Alcalá, she completed a Research Master’s degree at University College London (UK) and later obtained a PhD in Biomedicine from the University of Barcelona. After her PhD, she completed a first postdoc at Fudan University in Shanghai and later moved to Boston, where she worked for a year in a Harvard-associated lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital before joining the Ragon Institute in 2022. In addition to her scientific work, Carmen is a passionate advocate for promoting science outreach, scientific talent and gender equality, and upon moving to the United States she joined the board of ECUSA Boston, ECUSA’s Communication Committee and MECUSA as a project coordinator. Since 2023, Carmen also leads MECUSA in its mission to empower women scientists, improve their visibility, and advocate for gender equity in science.

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Yolanda Campos Jurado

Co-Chair MECUSA

Yolanda is a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis and her work focuses on the intersection between grief and binge drinking. This work is a continuation of her PhD project at the University of Valencia, in which she evaluated the effect of pain on relapse in alcohol consumption and demonstrated the key role played by mu-type opioid receptors in motivating and rewarding these relapses. Before that, Yolanda studied Pharmacy at the University of Valencia. On top of MECUSA, where she has been a part of since 2021, Yolanda has also been involved in science communication, equity and diversity projects such as Pint of Science, Brain Awareness Week, Women and Neuroscience and Girls4Stem.

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Leire Abalde Atristain

Project Coordination and Execution

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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. ponsored by a predoctoral fellowship from the La Caixa Foundation, Leire moved to the US in 2013 to obtain her doctorate from the Johns Hopkins Universitywhere 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 both the healthy development of the central nervous system, and in neurodegeneration. 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. Between 2021 and 2023 she also served as Chair for MECUSA, in its mission to empower women scientists, improve their visibility, and advocate for gender equity in science.

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Anna Adam Artigues

Project Coordination and Execution

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Anna is a postdoctoral researcher at Cancer Dormancy and Tumor Microenvironment Institute at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, where she studies how cancer cells can remain dormant in secondary organs for long periods of time. Her objective is to prevent these cells from reawakening and to find therapeutic strategies to eliminate them. She carried out her PhD thesis at the INCLIVA Health Research Institute associated with the Clinical Hospital of Valencia and the University of Valencia, where she studied the mechanisms of resistance to therapy in breast cancer. She has a degree in biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and has made several internships abroad (Mount Sinai in New York and Cancer Research Center UK in Liverpool). During her career she has published in hig-impact journals and received several awards and fellowships. Anna has been involved in several activities related to science dissemination and, in particular, to the role of women in science, such as Conócelas (ASEICA). n 2022, she joined MECUSA to continue promoting gender equality in science.

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María García Bonilla

Project Coordination and Execution

Maria is an Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Her research focuses on the study of neuroinflammation in humans with intraventricular hemorrhages or infections with the aim of developing anti-inflammatory therapies; and in the development of alternative treatments for hydrocephalus, such as cell or gene therapies, in animal models. She studied at the University of Malaga where she completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, a Master’s Degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology, and a Master’s Degree in Teaching in Secondary Education. She completed her doctoral thesis at the same university where she developed a stem cell therapy for the treatment of congenital hydrocephalus. During her thesis she made several stays at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and at the Ramón y Cajal Center in Madrid. She was a postdoc and instructor for three years at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. During his career he has published in high-impact journals and won several national awards, such as the Archimedes Prize, and international awards, such as the Young Investigator Award from the Hydrocephalus Society or the President’s Prize twice from the Society for Research into Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida. Now as principal investigator she leads two projects awarded by the Department of Defense, and collaborates on other projects from the National Institute of Health. In 2024 she joined MECUSA to continue improving gender equality in the scientific field.

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Nerea Zabaleta Lasarte

Project Coordination and Execution

Nerea Zabaleta, PhD, is an Instructor in Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. Her research lab forms part of the Grousbeck Gene Therapy Center at Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, USA, and of the Ocular Genomics Institute. Previously, she studied a Degree in Biochemistry and a Master in Biomedical Research at the University of Navarra. She completed her thesis at the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) on the application of in vivo gene editing as a treatment for genetic liver diseases, and during this time she was a visiting research scholar at Genethon (France) and at Albert Einstein College of Medicine (NY). She has a strong background in translational gene editing and gene therapy for inherited liver metabolic disorders as well as preclinical development of vaccines. Her laboratory aims at developing and optimizing adeno-associated viral vector (AAV)-based therapies for inherited and infectious disorders. Her goal is to create custom AAV vectors that adequate to the needs of each disease and target specific cell types rather than specific organs, creating more effective and safer therapies. Her work has been published in high impact journals, and she is inventor of two patents.

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Álvaro Curiel

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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.

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Sandra Capellera García

Advisor

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Sandra is a stem cell biologist and a science communicator. She earned her B.S. degree in Biotechnology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 2011. She then moved to Sweden to pursue her Ph.D. at Lund University, where she developed cell reprogramming methods to generate blood cells from skin cells She continued her scientific training at the University of California Los Angeles as a postdoctoral researcher thanks to a fellowship from the Swedish Research Council. There she helped create the first comprehensive map of blood stem cell development in the human embryo. Since 2021, Sandra has dedicated herself to her passion for scientific communication. Currently, she is Senior Manager, Scientific Outreach at The New York Stem Cell Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate cures for the major diseases of our time through stem cell research, and to democratize access to science education.

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Elizabeth Diago Navarro

Advisor

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Elizabeth has a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Complutense University of Madrid and a Masters in Public Health from the State University of New York at Albany, USA. She currently works at ISGlobal in Barcelona as manager of the Health Crisis Preparedness and Response program. She has worked and collaborates with the NYC Department of Health as manager of the city’s health system preparedness program for health emergencies related to special pathogens and antibiotic resistance. As such, she has been actively involved in the department’s response to COVID-19 by providing recommendations to the NYC healthcare system and as an advisor to the city’s contact tracing program. Her research activity focused on developing new strategies to treat and diagnose antibiotic resistant infections. Elizabeth is a founding member of the ECUSA-NY chapter and in the 2016-2019 period she was elected National Treasurer and member of the ECUSA board of directors. In 2019 she stepped up in MECUSA as co-chair, and since the leadership turnover in June 2021 she continues to serve the group as an advisor..

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Elizabeth Leon Palmero

Advisor

Elizabeth is a biologist and currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at Princeton University, where she studies the microbial and chemical processes controlling the budget of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide in the ocean. She developed her PhD work at the University of Granada, studying the production and fluxes carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in freshwater reservoirs. Her PhD thesis was awarded as the Best PhD Thesis in Limnology (2021) in The Iberian Association of Limnology (AIL), and later, the third position in the EFFS Award for the best PhD Dissertation in Freshwater Sciences (2021-2022 period) by the European Federation for Freshwater Sciences. Subsequently, she joined the NordCee group at the University of Southern Denmark to investigate the production and consumption of N2O in the Baltic Sea and in the Greenland Sea. lizabeth is involved in different initiatives to visibilize and promote Women in Science. She is also part of the Gender & Science AIL group and the Diversity and Inclusion Commission of the Iberian Society of Ecology.

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Melisa López Antón

Advisor

Melisa is an Assistant Director at PCI Ventures at University of Pennsylvania and has experience developing and managing a portfolio of early-stage life sciences start-up companies focused on therapeutics, MedTech, devices, and diagnostics. Skilled in scientific and investment due diligence, early-stage business development from concept to pre-seed/seed, overseeing recruitment of CEOs, advisors, interviewing KOL, building founder-investor relations, and raising funds for investment rounds. Previously, Melisa worked at Yale Ventures as a Blavatnik Fellow in Biotechnology Entrepreneurship and did her postdoctoral research in the Medical Oncology department at the Tish Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai, New York, in the field of disseminated cancer cell latency. She is highly cited by peer-review medical journals. Recognized for scientific excellence by various prestigious awards including the Marie Curie Ph.D. Fellowship Melisa was the Chair of MECUSA between 2018-2021, and received the Women in Bio award 2021 for encouraging diversity in scientific ventures. “To face the immense challenges of the 21st century, the world cannot deprive itself of the potential, intelligence and creativity of thousands of women” (Henri Beyle). More than two centuries after the writer Henri Beyle pronounced this phrase, Melisa is convinced that MECUSA will help make it finally come true.