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Research groups

Maria Blanca Torroba

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Research summary

There are accumulating evidences supporting that the adult nervous system can generate new functional neurons in mammals, including humans. In normal brains, this adult neurogenesis occurs in two discrete neural stem cell niches, located in the subventricular zone (SVZ) and the subgranular zone (SGZ) in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. This process is naturally stimulated after injury to make the needed repairs, but it can also be negatively regulated in certain neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's disease (PD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and Huntington's disease (HD).

I am working in the OxStem Neuro team, a collaborative project involving several research groups. The aim of OxStem Neuro is to find small molecules able to stimulate existing adult neural stem cells to counteract the accelerated loss of neurons occurring in certain diseases, like the mentioned neurodegenerative diseases. My work in this project is performing screenings using a library of small molecule compounds in in vitro models.


I studied Biotechnology at the University of Leon (B.Sc.) and a Master in Biomedical Research at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. In 2016, I obtained my PhD at the Molecular Biology Institute of Barcelona (IBMB-CSIC) under the supervision of Dr Sebastian Pons. My research project focused on deciphering the roles of Class IA PI3K during the embryonic development of the spinal cord, with special interest in cellular polarity and migration. I joined the Szele group in January 2017 as part of the OxStem Neuro group.