Maria F. García-Parajo

Maria F. García-Parajo

Institut de Ciències Fotòniques

Engineering Sciences

Maria Garcia-Parajo received her PhD in Physical Electronics in 1993 at Imperial College, London, UK. After postdocs at the L2M-CNRS, Bagneux, FR and U. Twente, NL, she became permanent staff member at the OT group of U. Twente in 1998. In 2005 se moved to Barcelona as ICREA Research Professor, first hosted at the IBEC - Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia and since July 2011 at ICFO-Institute of Photonic Sciences, leading the Single Molecule Biophotonics group. She coordinates several international research projects and has been a member of the executive board of the Spanish Biophysical Society and the International Fluorescence Society. She has received several prestigious awards, including the Advanced grant of the HFSP (2012), Bruker National Prize in Biophysics (2017), Advanced ERC grant 2017 and Emmy Noether Laurate, European Physical Society (2020). Maria is actively involved in (inter)national actions to promote gender equity in Science.

Research interests

Our research focuses on the development of advanced optical techniques to the study of biological processes at the single molecular level on living cells. We focus on the development and application of different forms of super-resolution microscopy as well as nanophotonic-based approaches to reach spatial resolutions around 10nm on intact cells. Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy in ultraconfined volumes, and multi-color single particle tracking are exploited to gain access to dynamic processes down to the microsecond time resolution. Using these combined approaches, we aim at understanding how spatiotemporal compartmentalization of biomolecules inside cells regulates and control cell function. This fundamental question has important implications for health and disease, touching the fields of cell biology and immunology. Most recent research focuses on the fields of nano-mechanobiology at the level of the cell membrane and liquid-liquid phase separation in living nuclei.

Selected publications

- Munoz-Gil G, Romero-Aristizabal C, Mateos N, Campelo F, De Llobet Cucalon LI, Beato M, Lewenstein M, Garcia-Parajo MF & Torreno-Pina JA 2022, 'Stochastic particle unbinding modulates growth dynamics and size of transcription factor condensates in living cells', Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, 119, 31, e2200667119.

- E. M Garcia-Cuesta, J. M. Rodriguez-Frade, S. R. Gardeta, … M. F. Garcia-Parajo, L. Martinez-Muñoz, M. Mellado, 2022, 'Altered CXCR4 dynamics at the cell membrane impairs directed cell migration in WHIM syndrome patients'. PNAS 119, 21, e2119483119. 

Selected research activities

  • Scientific Advisory Board LabEx Cell(n)Scale – Institut  Curie, France.
  • Member of  Evaluation Panel ERC- Life Sciences, Advanced Grants, European Research Council.
  • Coordinator of the Advanced Optical Microscopy Program at BIST-Barcelona Institute of Science & Technology, Barcelona, Spain.
  • Coordinator of the Winter School and BIST International Symposium in Advanced Microscopy – Master in Research and Experimental Sciences at BIST.
  • Seven invited talks at International conferences & workshops, including the Gordon Conference in Single Molecules.
  • Member of the scientific steering committee for the H2020-MSCA-ITN-MUSIQ consortium.
  • Editorial Board of Biophysical Journal since 2021 & Associate Editor Advances in Optics and Photonics, Optica publishing group (2021-date)
  • Participation in general talks, debates and dissemination activities to promote the active participation of Women in Science.