Area 3

Translational research in Diabetes, Lipids and Obesity

Team leader

Strategic objectives

  1. Understanding the molecular mechanisms regulating plasticity of the pancreatic islets in type 2 diabetes and obesity.
  2. Evaluation of molecular, genetic, and environmental contributors to the pancreatic beta cell dysfunction in type 2 diabetes.
  3. Understanding the role of the gastrointestinal tract in the regulation of glucose homeostasis and energy balance
  4. Depicting the cross-talk between central and peripheral determinants of energy balance
  5. Unravelling the Molecular and genetic factors in the development and function of the immune system
  6. Translating knowledge into therapeutic modulation of autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes and other human autoimmune disorders

Main lines of research

  1. Analysis of the transcriptional circuits regulating the beta-cell population and its function.
  2. Description of the modulating effects of the transcription factors neuroD1 and neurogenin 3 in the embryonic development of the pancreas.
  3. Description of the molecular pathways involved in the antiobesity and antidiabetic effects of sodium tungstate in experimental animals.
  4. Impact of normal blood glucose upon endothelial dysfunction: use of treatments with insulin pumps.
  5. Determination of the role of the hypothalamus in the control of energy homeostasis in obesity.
  6. Analysis of the epigenetic regulation of adipogenesis.
  7. GLP-1 as key factor in the resolution of type 2 diabetes after bariatric surgery
  8. Genes and molecules in the development and functioning of the immune system.
  9. Immunological approach to the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
  10. Bariatric surgery and the resolution of metabolic comorbidities in obesity

Research Group

Pancreatic islets: biomarkers and function

Ramon Gomis


The group headed by Dr. Ramon Gomis investigates the physiology of pancreatic islets and adipose tissue, and the causes leading to dysfunction of these tissues. A central aspect of these studies is the determination of the molecular mechanisms implicated in cell mass balance at both embryonic development level and as refers to adult age – with special emphasis on cell regeneration and apoptotic processes.

Research Group

Pathogenesis and treatment of Autoimmunity

Pere Santamaria


Our laboratory has two distinct components: one for purely basic biomedical research which studies the role of particular genes and molecules in the development and functioning of the immune system; and another, more applied, based on the study of the immunological effects of a new therapeutic platform we have developed for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, which include type 1 diabetes, lupus and autoimmune diseases of the central nervous system. This treatment, based on nanotechnology, works by way of an immunological mechanism for protection against autoimmunity designed by mother nature, which we have learned to manipulate by using a new type of drug, also discovered by us. One of our main objectives is to start using this therapeutic platform with patients through the conducting of clinical trials.

50/50 Program

Endocrine disorders: Crosstalk between molecular and metabolic determinants

Felicia Hanzu


Our group studies the crosstalk between molecular and metabolic determinants in endocrine pathologies, respectively the molecular determinants underlying physiopathological mechanisms of endocrine tumours and gender dysphoria. The aim is to translate knowledge from the basic research into the clinical practice by focusing on the development of new treatment strategies.

Research Group

Obesity: From excess body fat to metabolic complications

Josep Vidal


Our group’s main line of research seeks to deepen our understanding of the mechanisms that associate obesity with the onset of metabolic disorders. Bridging clinical and basic research, we look for answers to the question of why certain overweight individuals appear to have a greater protection from developing metabolic disorders than orders, as well as what determines inter-individual variability in metabolic response to therapeutic strategies associated with weight loss.

Research Group

Neuronal Control of Metabolism (NeuCoMe)

Marc Claret

Marc Claret’s general research interests are focused on the study of the molecular mechanisms by which particular neurocircuits control food intake, body weight and glucose metabolism. To achieve this aim, his group uses a combination of neuroanatomy, molecular and genetic tools to manipulate defined populations of neurons in order to correlate the function of a particular protein with specific physiological and behavioral outputs. Understanding the physiological mechanisms controlling energy balance and the pathophysiological alterations leading to obesity and diabetes, are the first steps towards developing new and more effective therapeutic approaches for the treatment of these metabolic conditions.