M. Mar Albà Soler

M. Mar Albà Soler

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 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 more than 100 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 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.  

Selected publications

- Montañés JC, Huertas M, Messeguer X & Albà MM 2023, 'Evolutionary trajectories of new duplicated and putative de novo genes'. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 40(5):msad098.

- Boll LM, Perera-Bel J, Rodriguez-Vida A, Arpí O, Rovira A, Juanpere N, Vázquez Montes de Oca S, Hernández-Llodrà S, Lloreta J, Albà MM* & Bellmunt J* 2023. 'The impact of mutational clonality in predicting the response to immune checkpoint inhibitors in advanced urothelial cancer'. Scientific Reports 13, 1, 15287 - 15287. * co-corresponding.

- Gröger A, Martínez-Albo I, Albà MM, Ayté J, Vega M & Hidalgo E 2023, 'Comparing mitochondrial activity, oxidative stress tolerance, and longevity of thirteen Ascomycota yeast species', Antioxidants 12, 10, 1810.

Selected research activities

Seminars at University College London (March 29), Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen (May 26), Institute Curie Paris (September 8) and Université Strasbourg (October 20). Co-organization of the conference Microproteins 2021 at Helsingor Denmark (May 31- June 2).