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 Medical Research Institute (IMIM) and has taught bioinformatics at Universitat Pompeu Fabra for 20 years. She has directed 11 doctoral thesis and is author of around 100 publications.
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 of the organism 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.
- Mudge JM, Ruiz-Orera J, Prensner JR, Brunet MA, Calvet F, Jungreis I, Gonzalez JM, Magrane M, Martinez TF, Schulz JF, Yang YT, Albà MM, Aspden JL, Baranov PV, Bazzini AA, Bruford E, Martin MJ, Calviello L, Carvunis AR, Chen J, Couso JP, Deutsch EW, Flicek P, Frankish A, Gerstein M, Hubner N, Ingolia NT, Kellis M, Menschaert G, Moritz RL, Ohler U, Roucou X, Saghatelian A, Weissman JS & VAN Heesch 2022, 'Standardized annotation of translated open reading frames', Nature Biotechnoly, 40, 994–999.
- Montañés JC, Huertas M, Moro SG, Blevins WR, Carmona M, Ayté J, Hidalgo E & Albà MM 2022, 'Native RNA sequencing in fission yeast reveals frequent alternative splicing isoforms', Genome Research 32(6):1215-1227.
- de la Rubia I, Srivastava A, Xue W, Indi JA, Carbonell-Sala S, Lagarde J, Albà MM*, Eyras E* 2022, 'RATTLE: reference-free reconstruction and quantification of transcriptomes from Nanopore sequencing', Genome Biology, 23 (1):153. *co-corresponding
Selected research activities
New grants: European Research Council Advanced Grant - Deciphering de novo gene birth in populations (NovoGenePop) 2022-2027; Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación - Evolution of non-canonical peptides and their role as cancer neoantigens 2022-2025; BBVA Foundation, Ayudas a Proyectos de Investigación Científica - Development of novel transcriptome-informed methods to predict the response to immunotherapy in cancer 2022-2024.
Invited talks in conferences: The emerging small proteome (European Conference on Computational Biology, Sitges Sep 2022), Neoantigens as predictors of response to immnotherapy (Optimizing immunotherapy, PRBB Auditorium, June 2022). Evolution of new proteins from translated sORFs in lncRNAs (Keystone Symposia, Snowbird, Utah, United States April 2022).