Mar Albà

Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques

Life & Medical Sciences

Mar Albà graduated in Biological Sciences at the University of Barcelona (UB), and obtained her PhD at the same University in 1997. During 1997-1999 she studied for the MSc in Bioinformatics and Molecular Modeling at Birkbeck College while working as a postdoctoral researcher in the group of John Hancock at the MRC Clinical Research Centre, in London. Later she joined the group led by Paul Kellam at University College London to develop new computational tools to study herpesvirus evolution and function. She was awarded a Ramón y Cajal tenure track position in 2002 to work at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF). In 2005 she was appointed ICREA Research Professor. She has directed 10 doctoral thesis and is author of more than 80 publications.

Research interests

We are interested in understanding the mechanisms of molecular evolutionary innovation in genomes. We are intrigued by how novel genes originate and we are using deep RNA sequencing strategies to identify expressed genes in related species and elucidate the processes behind the emergence of new genes. We also investigate the role of repetitive sequences in the expansion of coding sequences and the formation of novel protein domains.

Selected publications

- Domazet-Lošo T, Carvunis AR, Albà MM, Šestak MS, Bakarić R, Neme R & Tautz D 2017, 'No evidence for phylostratigraphic bias impacting inferences on patterns of gene emergence and evolution' Molecular Biology and Evolution, vol. 34, pp 843–856.

- Villanueva-Cañas JL, Ruiz-Orera J, Agea MI, Gallo M, Andreu D, Albà MM 2017, 'New genes and functional innovation in mammals', Genome Biology and Evolution, 1886-1900.

- Albà MM 2017, 'Zinc-finger domains in metazoans: evolution gone wild', Genome Biology, 18, 168.

Selected research activities

Supervision of PhD thesis by Jorge Ruiz Orera "Understanding the mechanisms of de novo gene evolution using transcriptomics data" (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Jan 19 2017) and MSc thesis by Teresa Tavella "Differential gene expression analysis in baker's yeast during oxidative stress" (University of Bologna, Jul 12 2017).

Talks to present the research in the group at the 5th International Quest for Orthologs Meeting (Los Angeles, Jun 9 2017) and at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (Austin, Jul 4 2017). Participation in Ada Lovelace Day by giving a talk to secondary school students at the Center for Regulatory Genomics (CRG-PRBB, Oct 10 2017). Extensive media coverage of our article "New genes and functional innovation in mammals" (TV3 feature Dec 4 20).