Guillermina Lopez Bendito
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2001-04
Professor Guillermina Lopez Bendito, PhD joined the Department of Human Anatomy and Genetics in 2001 as the first Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Professor Zoltán Molnár. She worked on the development of thalamocortical connectivity in the mouse, receiving the Merit Award in Science in 2003 for her contributions to the Department.
In 2007, Professor Lopez Bendito set up her own laboratory when she became Senior Scientist at the Spanish Research Council (CSIC), Institute of Neurosciences of Alicante. She currently leads a team of 16 researchers, including Professor Miguel Valdeolmillos, a renowned neuronal electrophysiologist investigating the early stages of brain development, who has contributed significantly to the understanding of the integration of cortical interneurons in the mature cortical circuit. The objective of her lab is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the formation of neural circuits in the developing brain. Using a novel and integrated experimental programme, her team aims to determine how one of the most complex circuits in the brain, the thalamocortical system, is formed, maintained and adapted. Through this system, sensory information is transmitted to the cerebral cortex in a topographical way, producing the acquisition of the perception of the stimuli that surround us. Abnormal development of the thalamocortical system could be implicated in some neurological diseases, such as autism or epilepsy. The Lopez Bendito lab focuses its research on three essential questions: how does the fate and the integration into the circuit of the different thalamic sensory neurons take place? what are the activity-dependent mechanisms involved in the formation of the thalamocortical circuit? and, what is the role of the thalamus in the mechanisms involved in cortical plasticity after loss of sensory information?
A series of notable papers outlining her laboratory’s key findings can be read in Science Advances (2021), Science (2019), Nature Communications (2017), Cerebral Cortex (2016), EMBO Reports (2015), Nature Neuroscience (2012), Journal of Neuroscience (2012, 2007), Current Biology (2011), Neuron (2011), PLoS Biology (2009) and Cell (2006). Professor Lopez Bendito and her lab’s research has been recognised by numerous awards, including the IBRO-Kemali prize (2018), the Joseph Altman Prize in Neurobiology 2018, the Constantes y Vitales award for Biomedicine Research 2019, the Alberto Sols 2020 award for the best scientific work in Health Sciences, the Banco Sabadell 2020 Biomedical Research award. Professor Lopez Bendito became an EMBO Member in 2020, having been awarded EMBO Young Researcher in 2012, and has been a member of the European Young Investigator Network, FENS-Kavli, since 2014. The Lopez Bendito lab attracts funding from prestigious organisations such as the National Research Agency of Spain, the “La Caixa” Foundation, the European Research Council, the Valencian Community and the Human Frontier Science Program.