Universidad de Salamanca (USAL)


Partner description and expertise

The University of Salamanca (USAL), the oldest University in Spain (and the third or fourth in Europe), is an Educational and Research non-profit organization with 2,500 professors and lecturers,1,400 researchers, 400 technicians, 1,250 administrative personnel and about 40,000 students.

In 2011, it was awarded the Campus of International Excellence status. Scientific Research is one of the major goals of USAL; the large Experimental Services and Equipments are centralized through the so called Nucleus platform, which provides –relevant to this proposal–, amongst others, services such as animal husbandry, GS/MS spectroscopy, transcriptomics, cell-sorting flow cytometry and electron microscopy. USAL is comprised of Departments, Research Centers and University Institutes specifically devoted to certain vanguard fields of knowledge. Some of the most important related to the subject of this project are: The Cancer Research Centre (CIC); The Neuroscience Institute of Castile & Leon (INCYL); The Institute of Functional Biology and Genomics (IBFG); the Salamanca Biomedical Research Institute-University Hospital of Salamanca (IBSAL), and the National DNA Bank. The University of Salamanca has participated and currently is involved in several European projects under the subsequent RTD European Framework Programmes (I to VII), Horizon 2020 and other European and International Programs and Actions (NIH, Erasmus, TEMPUS, Lifelong Learning Programme, LIFE, Drug Prevention and Information Programme, INTERREG, Alfa, EASI, COST, etc.), acting through several roles, namely coordinator, contractor, associated contractor, member, or host institution. As a consequence, it can offer valuable experience thanks to the development and management of more than 200 European Projects. Thereby, USAL is recognized as one of the most outstanding Spanish universities in both national and international rankings.

Role in the BATCure project

USAL’s contribution to BATCure will essentially be focused on ascertaining whether in Batten’s Disease there is a metabolic re-wire in neurons and/or in astrocytes that can explain, fully or in part, the metabolic disorder occurring in these cells responsible for the neuronal death.

Prof. Juan P. Bolaños is a Research Leader based at the Institute of Functional Biology and Genomics (IBFG; http://ibfg.es/en/), which is a joint center between the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) and University of Salamanca (USAL). It is a modern building holding 22 active research groups sharing common research tools on interdisciplinary fields of Biology. Researchers at the IBFG have a general interest in studying the biological molecular mechanisms using the most advanced methods available. The Institute has a network of core facilities, namely the central administration (ordering and stores, grant administration office and reception) and the central technical support (cleaning and sterilization, reagent and medium preparation, general equipment and infrastructure, microscopy, cytometry, tissue culture, animal husbandry and behaviour tests, informatics, radiation protection office, health protection office). About 140 people work at the IBFG, including CSIC researchers, University Professors, Postdoctoral students, Predoctoral students, undergraduate students, technicians and other professionals such as administrators and project managers. Besides, large equipment at the IBFG are centralized and supervised by specific technical assistance, and includes spin-disk microscope for in vivo imaging, epifluorescence microscopes, micromanipulation, cell culture facility, flow cytometry, and HPLC.

Dr. Angeles Almeida is a Senior Scientist in the Institute of Biomedicine of Salamanca (IBSAL) and Associate Professor at the University of Salamanca. Dr. Almeida has an excellent background on the study of neuronal death and she will assess the question whether neurons are only the cells that die in Batten’s Disease. Given the expertise of Dr. Almeida in in glutamate excitotoxicity, she will also assess the proposal that a failure in glutamate clearing by astrocytes in Battens disease would lead to excitotoxicity.