Our research will develop new technology that will be applied (i) to the early diagnosis and staging of disease and (ii) detection of tissue responses to therapy, with the long term objective of identifying appropriate personalised therapies.

The central theme of our work is the development of new insight and applications in chemical biology systems; our research line focuses on Bioengineering solutions using Chemistry and Physics tools to study Biological problems. In particular, we develop Magnetic Resonance (MR) molecular imaging methods to study the biochemical pathways in bioengineered systems and in vivo.

MR is already a well-known clinical technique in the form of 3D, non-destructive imaging of tissue and fluid composition in vivo (MRI). As a further benefit, MR spectroscopic imaging is chemically specific and can thus directly relate response of a single (or many) chemical compound to biological events in biofluids, cell suspensions in vitro, excised tissue and perfused organs ex vivo, animal models in vivo and clinical patients. The rich variety of MR experiments developed over the past decades permits quantification of metabolites concentrations, diffusion rates, perfusion, energetics and tissue oxygenation. These parameters represent a steady state fingerprint of the sample studied, which encodes physiological and pathological factors.

Our research goes beyond these techniques by using hyperpolarised MR (DNP-MR) to measure kinetics (fluxes) of metabolic interconversion and enzymatic reactions in vivo. DNP-enhanced 13C MR is possible thanks to a sample preparation procedure that enhances the signal thousands of times beyond conventional MR, saving a factor of ~ 100.000 in measurement time. Only ~30 sites worldwide currently own the equipment to prepare 13C MR substrates this way (so-called “DNP polarisers”). The only two polarisers in Spain are both in Barcelona (one in our laboratory) and available to us. We also have the specialised knowledge required to drive the research and exploit the potential of these Barcelona infrastructure.


Key Projects

Our Methods

Hyperpolarised NMR (HP-NMR)

At the forefront of molecular imaging, our team specializes in hyperpolarized MR techniques, which amplify NMR signals over 10,000 times. This advancement allows real-time, non-invasive observation of molecular processes within a broad spectrum of biological systems, offering unprecedented insights into dynamic biological phenomena in real time. In our group we work with two HP methods: dissolution Dynamic nuclear polarization (dDDNP) and Parahydrogen Induced Polarization (PHIP).

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Building upon the established clinical utility of MR imaging (MRI) for non-destructive tissue analysis, our work extends to MR spectroscopic imaging, which offers chemical specificity. This enables direct correlation between chemical compounds and biological events across various biological samples, including biofluids, cells, tissues, animal models, and clinical patients.

Microfluidic Platforms

Microfluidic platforms, especially lab-on-a-chip devices, are revolutionizing the study of metabolism in disease by offering a compact and efficient means to analyze biological samples. These chips integrate intricate networks of microchannels and chambers, allowing for precise control and manipulation of small fluid volumes. A significant advantage of these platforms is their ability to accommodate multiple samples simultaneously for a single measurement, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This unique design not only enhances throughput and reduces sample consumption but also enables high-resolution and multiplexed metabolic analysis. Consequently, microfluidic chips are becoming indispensable tools in biomedical research, providing valuable insights into disease mechanisms and facilitating the identification of metabolic biomarkers.


Metabolomics is the comprehensive study of metabolites, the small molecules involved in metabolic processes within a biological system. Analysis of metabolites using NMR spectroscopy reveals insights into the biochemical activities occurring in cells, tissues, or organisms. This field is particularly useful for biomarker identification associated with particular diseases. Identifying these biomarkers can improve disease diagnosis, prognosis, and the development of personalized treatment strategies.

Computer Modelling of Biological Systems

By using the law of mass action, it is possible to model different cellular processes in a deterministic manner, and hence, describe these systems at a population level. These models can describe a wide range of processes, from gene expression and regulation to enzyme kinetics and particles movements thanks to membrane transporters.