M. Mar Albà

M. 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 works at the Hospital del Mar Research Institute (IMIM) and teaches bioinformatics at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. She has directed 10 doctoral thesis and is author of more than 80 publications.

Research interests

As a result of a continuous process of gene birth and death, the genomes from different species contain different sets of genes. Some of these genes encode new functional proteins and facilitate the adaptation to a changing environment. Some new genes originate by gene duplication, but others emerge de novo from previously non-coding genomic sequences. We study the different mechanisms of gene birth using a combination of comparative genomics, high throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) and ribosome profiling data (Ribo-Seq). We have shown that transcription and translation are pervasive and result in many putative precursors of novel proteins. We are aiming at a quantitative and qualitative description of the still poorly understood process of de novo gene formation.

Selected publications

– Ruiz-Orera J & Albà MM 2019, ‘Translation of small ORFs: roles in regulation and evolutionary innovation‘. Trends in Genetics, Volume 35, Issue 3, 186-198.

– Blevins WR, Carey LB & Albà MM 2019, ‘Transcriptomics data of 11 species of yeast identically grown in rich media and oxidative stress conditions‘. BMC Research Notes, Volume 12, Issue 1, 250.

– Blevins WR, Tavella T, Moro SG, Blasco-Moreno B, Closa-Mosquera A, Diez J, Carey LB & Alba MM 2019, ‘Extensive post-transcriptional buffering of gene expression in the response to severe oxidative stress in baker’s yeast‘, Scientific Reports, Volume 9, 11005.

– Ruiz-Orera J & Albà MM 2019, ‘Conserved regions in long non-coding RNAs contain abundant translation and protein-RNA interaction signatures‘. Nucleic Acids Research Genomics and Bioinformatics, Volume 1, Issue 1, e2.

Selected research activities

Invited talks at the CRG Annual Proteomics Symposim (5 Nov 2019), Workshop Models of Evolution, a CONTRA Innovative Training Network Workshop 6 Jun 2019) and at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center Bioinfo4Women Seminar Series (16 Mar 2019).