Who are we?
ECUSA-DC brings together scientists from the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia areas. This chapter is characterized as the home of the ECUSA founders. In addition, it is the chapter most closely linked to US governmental institutions, as the area is home to the national headquarters of organizations such as the NIH, NASA, the Patent Office, the FDA, the USDA, and the EPA, among many others, all of them with the presence of Spanish scientists. In addition to institutions such as Smithsonian, WWF, The Nature Conservancy, and universities of great international prestige, such as Georgetown, Maryland, George Washington, George Mason or Johns Hopkins, among others. The ECUSA-DC chapter now has more than 100 members.
What do we do?
We organize events and promote networking between ECUSA members. We look forward to seeing you at all of our events, which we will inform you about on this Chapter webpage and on ECUSA’s social media official accounts.
Alberto D. López Muñoz
Alberto D. is a molecular virologist, passionate about understanding how viruses are able to mimic and modulate the human immune system. He received his PhD and MSc from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain) where he studied immunomodulation and evolutionary mechanisms of human herpes simplex viruses. During his predoctoral training, he performed two research internships, at Imperial College London (UK) and at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID, USA).
He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory of Viral Diseases within the NIAID (National Institutes of Health, NIH), studying human coronaviruses and influenza virus. His desire to improve the visibility of spanish scientists and interconnect the spanish and american scientific communities have motivated him to lead the Washington DC chapter and to participate in the E-Visibility program.
Laura Campello Blasco
I earned a B.S. in Biology, with a specialization in Biotechnology, and a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Alicante (Spain). My career in Biomedical Research has largely focused on incurable human diseases. Specifically, I study neurodegenerative diseases of the retina that cause severe vision loss or blindness. During my predoctoral training I investigated molecular mechanisms underlying retinal diseases including mitochondrial dysfunction, and the ubiquitin-proteasome system, a pathway responsible for cellular protein homeostasis. I also explored the neuroprotective potential of compounds with antiapoptotic and anti-inflammatory properties in animal models of retinal degeneration. Additionally, I was a visiting research fellow at the Institut de la Vision in Paris (France). Currently, I am a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institutes of Health (USA) studying aging and age-related retinal diseases.
Antonio Cembellin is a 4th year Ph.D. Candidate in Immunology at University of California, Davis and Visiting Student at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Originally from Spain, Antonio moved to the US to pursue an undergraduate degree in Biotechnology at Indiana University thanks to a Full Tennis Scholarship. Antonio did 2 years of undergraduate research on Antimicrobial Peptides with Dr. Cheng Kao. He is currently working to identify the role of leukocyte-derived acetylcholine in the immune response to influenza virus in Dr. Nicole Baumgarth’s lab.
Marina studied Biomedical Sciences at the University of Barcelona and did her BSc internship at Lunds Universitet in Sweden, thanks to an ERASMUS+ fellowship.
After graduating with an MRes in Translational Cancer Medicine from King’s College London, UK, Marina moved back to Barcelona to pursue an international PhD at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), where she focused on the study of genomic instability in cancer. During her PhD, she did two research stays abroad, at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, OR, USA (2019-2020) and at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany (2021).
In 2021, Marina co-founded and has since co-directed Graphit, a London-based enterprise specialized in scientific communication and graphic design training for scientists in the making.
She is currently based in Bethesda, MD, USA, and is a Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA) fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI-NIH), where she investigates the role of TLK2 in cancer and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Since December 2022, Marina is the Treasurer of the Washington DC chapter of ECUSA.
Juan is a third-year PhD student at the National Institute of Mental Health (Bethesda, MD). During his studies in Biochemistry at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Juan began doing research at the Cajal Institute on Parkinson’s and drug addiction. After completing his degree, Juan moved to Scotland to pursue a Master’s in Biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh. To pursue his current doctorate, Juan decided to build a collaboration with the NIH through its Graduate Partnership Program, of which he is currently a beneficiary. Juan studies the role of the D3 receptor in the context of neuropsychiatric diseases. Juan has been a member of the ECUSA Board of the DC chapter since 2019 and is also a member of the communication commission.
CD / Advisory
Patricia Fernández Ferri received her Pharmacy degree and her PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Valencia. She performed postdoctoral research at New York University, Institute of Biomedicine of Valencia and at the National Cancer Institute (NIH). She is currently working as a clinical laboratory geneticist at GeneDx, a genetic testing company, after graduating from the Laboratory Genetics and Genomics program at the National Human Genome Research Institute. At ECUSA, Patricia has been a board member of the DC chapter from the beginning, has co-directed the Advisory program (2017-2021) and keeps her collaboration as a member of the Advisory team.
High school teacher and research scientist. Specialized in Environmental Microbiology with more than five years of postdoctoral experience in biodiversity studies, biodegradation processes, enzymatic optimization, and molecular biology. PhD in Soil Microbiology from the University of Extremadura, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota and USDA (Department of Agriculture in USA), and scientist at the Research and Development department of Abengoa Bioenergy New Technologies.
Former president of the ECUSA (Spanish Scientists in USA) chapter in Washington DC. Currently a teacher in the bilingual Immersion Program of APS, in Virginia. Joined Wakefield HS (Arlington Public Schools, Virginia) in 2016, where she teaches Intensified Immersion Biology and Intensified Immersion Chemistry. Awarded Secondary Teacher of the Year 2021 by the Association of Two-Way & Dual Language Education in United States.
Sara is a molecular geneticist whose research interests are primarily focused in understanding how genetic variation affects neurodegenerative diseases. Her career started with a PharmD degree, followed by a Neuroscience M.Sc, and lastly a Ph.D. (Hons) in Genetics from the University of Granada, Spain. In 2017, she joined the Laboratory of Neurogenetics at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland as a postdoctoral researcher with the goal of conducting further research in the bioinformatics field, aimed at studying neurological disorders spanning the etiological risk spectrum from monogenic to more complicated sporadic forms. Dr. Bandres-Ciga has been recently awarded with the 2019 NIA Women in Science Excellence in Research Award. She is passionate about inclusivity and democratization in science and has been active in scientific outreach and training. Sara co-leads the Training, Networking and Communication working group at the Global Parkinson’s Disease Genetics Program (GP2) and the International Parkinson’s Disease Genomic Consortium – Trainee Network. Sara is the co-chair of the CF Board and member of Washington DC chapter.