Dr. Elena Alberdi Alfonso was appointed Assistant Scientific Director of ACHUCARRO starting on January 2022.
Dr. Alberdi began her academic career as Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Navarra (1989-1995). During this period, she completed her Doctoral Thesis in a project financed by the Upjohn pharmaceutical company, whose objective was to design and analyze cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase inhibitors for their use as inodilators drugs. In 1995 she moved to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) where she did a postdoctoral stay (1995-1998), participating in the molecular characterization of the neurotrophic factor PEDF, defining its mechanisms of neurotrophic activity and its molecular domains of interaction with components of the extracellular matrix and its receptor. She was awarded one “Postdoctoral Research Award” (NIH) to the most outstanding postdoctoral works. In 1999, she joined the Department of Neurosciences at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) in Leioa, then being awarded “Ramón y Cajal Fellowship” of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology. Her research interest led her to the study of calcium homeostatic changes in the mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum and their contribution to oligodendroglial and neuronal death due to excitotoxicity.
In recent years, her line of work has focused in the study of the signaling and damage mechanisms of amyloid oligomers in neurons and glia in order to find targets to develop new treatments and identify new biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease. (Alberdi et al., Cell Calcium 2010; Texidó et al., Cell Calcium 2011; Manterola et al., Transl Psychiatry 2013; Alberdi et al., Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2018; Quintela et al., 2019). Their findings have been validated in animal models of the disease and changes in the expression of these molecular markers are also observed in samples from Alzheimer’s patients, a fact that identifies candidate molecules as biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (Alberdi et al., Aging Cell 2013; Wyssenbach et al., Aging Cell 2016; Quintela et al., Cell Death Dis 2019). During recent years and in this research context, she collaborated with international research groups, resulting in publications and communications at international conferences (most recently Walker et al., EMBO Rep, 2018; Akwa et al., Mol Psychiatry 2017).