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How do professionals in the BioRegion spend their vacation?

The heat has come a long way, and many professionals already count the days to change the dressing gown or the tie for the swimsuit. Researchers and entrepreneurs from the BioRegió of Catalonia tell us about their plans for this summer vacation: from the most exotic to those who will continue to work all through August.


José Manuel Soria (IIB Sant Pau): Science and high mountain

Jose Manuel Soria IIB Sant Pau Everest Sherpa 2017

José Manuel Soria, Director of the Complex Diseases Genomics Unit of the Research Institute of the Santa Creu and Sant Pau Hospital, is a great mountaineering enthusiast. If during the year he is satisfied with trips to the Pyrenees or the Alps, in the last summers he has made three expeditions to the Himalaya. Last year he had a great media impact, as he accompanied the mountaineer Ferran Latorre in his last 'eight-year' Everest, and set up a scientific project in which he continues to work at present: the Sherpa Everest 2017 project, which he studies how the expression of the genome acts in the face of altitude and lack of oxygen.

To do it, Soria and two other scientists from Sant Pau and Can Ruti settled in the Everest base camp, where the photo accompanying these lines was made. They collected samples of climbers and sherpas, they froze them with ice from the glacier (in the area there is only electricity for a few hours a day) and they went down by helicopter to Kathmandu, from where they arrived in Barcelona by plane. "Getting this whole process was an adventure that left me sleepless nights," he acknowledges, "now our goal is to identify mechanisms by which healthy people adapt to altitude and identify how these mechanisms are affected in respiratory patients, to find biomedical applications." "His team is currently working on the analysis of these data, which they plan to present during the autumn. Meanwhile, Soria will settle this summer with a more modest adventure: a family trek to Iceland.

Daniel Massó (VHIO): Orangutans in Borneo

Daniel Massó is a postdoctoral researcher in the Modeling of Anti-tumor Therapies in Mouse group of VHIO, led by Laura Soucek. If he lives surrounded by rodents all year round, the animals will also accompany him this summer: with some friends he will go to Malaysia and he will visit the island of Borneo to see orangutans, first in freedom along the Kinabatangan river and then in a rehabilitation center animal.

His road map also includes scuba diving on the small island of Sipadan, where only 120 divers are accepted per day. "Since I was little I have traveled all over the world, every year to a farther place", explains the researcher currently specialized in breast cancer metastasis. Among its last destinations are Senegal and Ethiopia, where the photo that accompanies these lines is made.


Cristian Pascual (Mediktor): 30 years faithful to Formentera

Cristian Pascual, Cofounder and CEO of Mediktor, has been faithful to Formentera for his summer vacation for 30 years. He discovered the island thanks to his friend Oscar García-Ardilla, currently his partner in Mediktor. "Since then I am in love: it is a paradise and for me there is no better place to spend the summer."

For 12 years, Cristian has been staying in the house that his parents bought, which means he does not have to worry about the limitations of the island's accommodation. And, in 30 years, Formentera has changed a lot "It has lost part of the hippy spirit and carefree, but has gained in quality in many services." The popular beer advertisement hurts because many people discovered the island, but fortunately the hotel capacity it's limited and even in August you can still find a beach and be alone: ​​You just have to know where to go. "

Every day on the island is very calm. "The main concern of the day is to choose the beach where we will go: most of the time we just look at the wind and choose the sea with waves or calm," he says. "I can not stand still on the beach: we go sailing on catamaran, we do snorkeling, we play with paddles ... In the afternoon we go for a walk, go back to the beach or visit friends, and at the end of the day I go by bike with my son to discover corners and burn 'mojitos' I do not look at the time, I do not know what day it is : We are on vacation!".


Daniel Pérez (IrsiCaixa): From the thesis to the Camino de Santiago

Camino Santiago Dani Perez irsicaixa

They say that the Camino de Santiago engages. And if not ask Daniel Perez Zsolt, a predoctoral researcher in the group of Retrovirology and Clinical Studies of IrsiCaixa, which this year will be a pilgrim for the third time.

"4 years ago I made the path for the first time, alone and from Roncesvalles, I had just done a master's degree, the experience had not been good, I was hesitant to do my doctorate and I thought the path would allow me time to think," he recalls. The result: he decided to do the thesis, which is now ending. "The road brought me a change of total mentality - he recognizes - now I recommend it to everybody". Last year he repeated the experience with a friend, covering only the previous stage to Roncesvalles, which many fellow travelers had recommended. "This year I will do it alone, this time the final stage from Astorga," he explains, "with the end of the thesis it's been an intense year and it will serve to disconnect ".


Ray G. Butler (Butler Scientifics): Farmer in Menorca

Ray Butler Scientifics Menorca

Ray G. Butler, founder and CEO of Butler Scientifics, lives in Barcelona but he was born in Lanzarote and every summer he chooses another island for his vacations: Menorca. Specifically, the small village of Sant Climent, where the best friend of his wife and family live. "12 years ago, I was fortunate enough to know part of that family and to live with them during many summers", he said excitedly. "Ignasi and Montse, our friend's parents, had one of the most beautiful gardens in town, that a well-known family had them borrowed with the benefit of taking advantage of the crop in exchange for taking care of it. There I knew a wonderful place of relaxation, conversation, birds and also hard work helping Ignasi. "

The couple of peasants took care of the garden during the day, and Ray and his wife slipped a hand for a couple of hours at the end of the afternoon (the four, in the photo accompanying these lines). "For years I used that garden to learn the techniques of care and growth of potatoes, strawberries, melons, watermelons, beans, tomatoes ... Feeling that helping the nature to produce is spectacular. Enjoy conversations at sun fall and feed on what you have cultivated yourself is priceless ". Ray assures that these summers have impacted on their entrepreneurial experience. "Watching Ignasi with more than 70 years devoting so much energy to the garden, with so much faith and persistence, working at his side and learning something new every day was a pride for me: values ​​that also fit into my startup design." Ignasi is no longer there, but Ray continues to attend his appointment with Sant Climent each year.


Rafael Maldonado (UPF): Diving in the Maldives

Rafael Maldonado, Head of the Laboratory of Neuropharmacology at the Pompeu Fabra University, has some exotic plans for this summer: scuba diving in the Rasdhoo atoll, one of the mecca of this sport in the Maldives Islands, in the north of the Indian Ocean.

"The scuba diving allows me to avoid everything and discover a world hitherto unknown to me," said Maldonado, "I started training in this sport 10 years ago, but unfortunately I can only practice during summer vacations, if I had more time I would love it. practice it more often! " So far, Maldonado has dived on some of the coasts most sought after by practitioners of this sport: "The place that I liked the most? The west coast of Australia". There, the photo that accompanies these lines was made, in whichRafael (lower right corner) dives among sharks.


Go to work, an alternative plan 

Not all the professionals of the BioRegió have this summer plans as exotic as those that illustrate this article: work in August is the obligatory perspective for many others.

"We will spend all summer working ... We are in the final sprint and right now we can not do anything else!", Recognizes Salva Gutiérrez, CEO of MJN Neuroserveis: the company lives a decisive 2018, with a clinical trial and the beginning of the commercialization of the first units of its non-intrusive device for the prediction and warning of epileptic seizures. Nor will suitcase Judit Cubedo, Co-founder and CEO of GlyCardial: "We have no plan for this vacation because we have too much work to really take a break," reveals. Jesús Purroy, founder of Avid Biotech will also continue to be active: "I will spend the summer preparing project requests and contacting potential investors".