Raya Group


Reprogramming the potency of somatic cells to accelerate stem cell-based regeneration

We investigate the mechanisms by which some animal species can regenerate their hearts. This knowledge informs clinically translatable strategies to improve heart repair in patients
Angel Raya
Coordinator, Regenerative Medicine Program of IDIBELL
Director of P-CMRC

Lab focus

During embryo development, the potency of the zygote is deployed through coordinated and stereotypical changes in cell behaviors and processes of tissue patterning, ultimately resulting in the formation of an entire, highly complex organism in a relatively short period of time. Throughout this process, the developmental potency of individual cells, i.e. their ability to give rise to cells of a different type than their own, is progressively lost, so that somatic cells in adult individuals retain very limited potency (such as in rare adult stem cells) or show no potency at all.

Our laboratory is interested in understanding the mechanisms that govern the degree of potency of human somatic cells, and how it can be experimentally increased for conditions where doing so may be of biomedical relevance. Specifically, the context in which we investigate these issues is mainly centered on the paradigm of cardiac regeneration/repair. Overall, our research takes advantage of a variety of experimental paradigms (zebrafish heart regeneration, human iPSC generation and differentiation), approached from a multi-disciplinary perspective, ranging from bioengineering approaches to 3D stem cell differentiation to single-cell genetic lineage tracing analyses and genetic manipulation of human cells, aimed at tackling important current issues in biology and biomedicine, such as the mechanisms that control the establishment and maintenance of developmental potency, the initiation and progression of the regenerative process, and the differentiation and functional maturation of human cardiomyocytes, and the development of genuinely human models of human disease.

Why it matters

Heart-related diseases are the main cause of mortality in the world, with ischemic heart disease being the single most frequent condition accounting for the death toll. This results from the very limited ability of the mammalian heart to regenerate on its own, and underscores the pressing biomedical need to finding ways for potentiating this ability (heart regeneration) and/or providing new cardiac cells to replace the lost or damaged ones (heart repair).


Heart regeneration, Induced reprogramming, Disease modeling, Cardiac tissue engineering, Stem cell differentiation


Saludas L, Garbayo E, Mazo M, Pelacho B, Abizanda G, Iglesias Garcia O, Raya A, Prosper F, Blanco-Prieto MJ. (2019) Long-term engraftment of human cardiomyocytes combined with biodegradable microparticles induces heart repair. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 370(3):761-771. Epub 2019, Feb 6.
Uroz M, Garcia-Puig A, Tekeli I, Elosegui-Artola A, Albertazzi L, Roca-Cusachs P, Raya A, Trepat X. (2019) Traction forces at the cytokinetic ring regulate cell division and polyploidy in the migrating zebrafish epicardium. Nat Mater 18(9):1015-1023. Epub 2019, Jun 3.
Cai R, Zhang Y, Simmering JE, Schultz JL, Li Y, Fernandez-Carasa I, Consiglio A, Raya A, Polgreen PM, Narayanan NS, Yuan Y, Chen Z, Su W, Han Y, Zhao C, Gao L, Ji X, Welsh MJ, Liu L. (2019) Enhancing glycolysis attenuates Parkinson’s disease progression in models and clinical databases. J Clin Invest 129(10):4539-4549. Epub 2019, Sep 16.
Benzoni P, Campostrini G, Landi S, Bertini V, Marchina E, Iascone M, Ahlberg G, Olesen MS, Crescini E, Mora C, Bisleri G, Muneretto C, Ronca R, Presta M, Poliani PL, Piovani G, Verardi R, Pasquale ED, Consiglio A, Raya A, Torre E, Lodrini AM, Milanesi R, Rocchetti M, Baruscotti M, DiFrancesco D, Memo M, Barbuti A, Dell’Era P. (2019) Human iPSC modeling of a familial form of atrial fibrillation reveals a gain of function of If and ICaL in patient-derived cardiomyocytes. Cardiovasc Res Epub 2019, Aug 28.
Castaño J, Aranda S, Bueno C, Calero-Nieto FJ, Mejia-Ramirez E, Mosquera JL, Blanco E, Wang X, Prieto C, Zabaleta L, Mereu E, Rovira M, Jiménez-Delgado S, Matson DR, Heyn H, Bresnick EH, Göttgens B, Di Croce L, Menendez P, Raya A and Giorgetti A. (2019) GATA2 Promotes Hematopoietic Development and Represses Cardiac Differentiation of Human Mesoderm. Stem Cell Rep 13(3):515-529. Epub 2019, Aug 8.
Current Members
Raquel Ferrer-Lorente
Post Doc
Cristina Prat
Post Doc
Yvonne Richaud
Senior Research Assistant
Jorge Castillo
Post Doc
Cristina García
Research Assistant
Karine Tadevosyan
PhD student
Rubén Escribá
PhD student
Laura Casado
PhD student
Yannis Lazis
PhD student
Alba Morillas
Research Assistant
Léa Pourchet
Post Doc
Stefano Lazzarano
Laboratory Manager
Fernando Gutiérrez
Post Doc
Maria van Dongen
Assistant to Director

Angel Raya
ICREA Research Professor Coordinator, Regenerative Medicine Program of IDIBELL
Director of P-CMRC


Prof. Angel Raya holds an MD and a PhD from the University of Valencia. He pursued postdoctoral training at the Instituto de Investigaciones Citológicas (currently, Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe) in Valencia, from 1995 to 2000. He then was a Research Associate (2000-2004) and a Senior Research Associate (2004-2006) at the Gene Expression Laboratory of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA (USA).

He returned to Spain in 2006 as an ICREA Research Professor. He was CMRB´s Scientific Coordinator until 2009, when he joined the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) as group leader of the Control of Stem Cell Potency Group. In 2014 he was appointed Director at CMRB.

Research in Prof. Raya’s group aims to understand the tissue, cellular and molecular mechanisms that determine the regenerative response in certain species of vertebrates, as well as the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that control cellular reprogramming. This phenomenon provides a link between the traditional study of epimorphic regeneration and the induced pluripotency strategies of regenerative medicine.

Raquel Ferrer-Lorente
Post Doc

Raquel Ferrer-Lorente obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Barcelona in 2007 for her work “Modulació farmacològica de l’oleoïl-estrona sobre la ingesta i la composició corporal” participating in preclinical studies of the development of oleoyl estrone as a drug for the treatment of obesity. This work was awarded with the extraordinary doctorate prize.

After receiving her Ph.D., she joined the research group led by the distinguished Prof. Badimon, integrated into the Cardiovascular Research Center (CSIC-ICCC) (2007). Here, Dr. Ferrer-Lorente was awarded with a postdoctoral fellowship from the JAE-Doc Program at Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) (2008-2011) and a postdoctoral contract Sara Borrell from Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación-Instituto de Salud Carlos III (2011-2015). During this period, she focused mainly on the field of stem cells. Specifically, she focused on the phenotypic and functional characterization of cells derived from white adipose tissue (ASCs). She conducted research studying the impact of obesity and type II diabetes on the angiogenic potential and regeneration of ASCs and the use of ASCs as a tool for studying the molecular mechanisms controlling adipogenesis and expandability of white adipose tissue allowing the identification of potential therapeutic targets.

From January 2014 to May 2015, Dr. Ferrer-Lorente carried out the stay related to her Sara Borrell contract at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), specifically in the group of “Control of stem cell potency” led by Prof. Raya. During this period, she analyzed the angiogenic potential of the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Dr. Ferrer-Lorente joined the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona in July 2015 with a postdoctoral contract of the Biomedical Research Networking Center, Bioengineering, Biomaterials, Nanomedicine (CIBERbbn; Instituto de Salud Carlos III). Here, her research is focused on the study of the molecular links between diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders.

Cristina Prat-Vidal
Post Doc

Cristina Prat-Vidal holds a Bachelor in Biology (1998) and a Ph.D. in Biology (2005) from the University of Barcelona (UB). After graduating, she joined the group of Prof. Rafael Franco in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the UB, where she continued with a Master’s degree in Experimental Biology (2000) and later with her Ph.D. (200-2005). Her thesis work focused on the role of adenosine receptors, ectoadenosine deaminase and CD26 in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular system.

In 2005 Dr. Prat-Vidal moved to ICREC group (Heart Failure and Cardiac Regeneration) led by Prof. Antoni Bayés Genís, first at the Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul (Barcelona) and from 2010 located at the Health Sciences Research Institute of the Germans Trias i Pujol (IGTP, Badalona). Her research was based on the finding of new cell types suitable for cardiac tissue restoration. In 2007 she earned a Sara Borrell postdoctoral contract from Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation-Institute of Health Carlos III (ISCIII, 2008-2011) and carried out a stay (2009-2010) at the Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC, Madrid), under the supervision of Dr. Antonio Bernad. During this postdoctoral fellowship, co-financed by ISCIII and Agency for Management of University and Research Grants (AGAUR), she acquired expertise in DNA cloning techniques as tools to genetically modify stem cells and improve their regenerative capacity in the heart. She came back to the ICREC group in 2010, where she focused on new therapeutic approaches by tissue engineering for better cell delivery into the infarcted cardiac tissue.

Since January 2018 she has been contracted as a Researcher Associate by CMR[B] to specifically collaborate in several long-term projects focused on novel approaches of cardiac tissue engineering.

Yvonne Richaud
Senior Research Assistant

Yvonne Richaud obtained her BSc. in Biochemistry by the Universidad Veracruzana (Mexico) in 1990. Since 1991 to 2007 she worked as a research staff member at the Laboratory of Immunology and Rheumatology from the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Medicas y Nutricion Salvador Zubirán (Mexico City). Under the direction of Drs. D. Alarcón Segovia and L. Llorente, she participated in several projects focused on the study of cytokines and B-cell hyperactivity of rheumatic autoimmune diseases, particularly systemic lupus erythematosus. Important collaborations of her work have been performed with the research group of Professors D. Emilie and P. Galanaud (INSERM-U131, Clamart, France).

In 2007, Yvonne came to Barcelona and joined the CMR[B] as a research technician under the direction of Dr. Ángel Raya, particularly in the field of cell reprograming.

Then, from 2009 to 2015, she has been working at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) in Dr. Raya’s research group Control of Stem Cell Potency as a senior technician participating in several projects of disease modelling through induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC).

On January 2016, she came back to the CMR[B] and, since then, she has carried on her work in cell reprogramming and disease modelling.

Jorge Castillo
Post Doc

Jorge Castillo received his bachelor degree in biological sciences at National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 2008. During this time he studied the hormonal bases that regulate the onset of paternal behavior in rodents.

From 2008 to 2012 Jorge studied his master’s degree in Biochemical Sciences at the Institute of Cellular Physiology (UNAM) where he worked with the molecular bases that regulate the storage and silencing of maternal RNAs during the formation and inheritance of the germ line, using zebrafish as a model study organism.

Then, in 2018 Jorge obtained his Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at the Biotechnology Institute (UNAM). In his doctoral thesis he focused on studying the molecular mechanisms that regulate the heart development, specifically he found, using CRISPR-Cas9 system, that the SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling complex subunit BAF57, plays an essential role during the zebrafish heart development. During this period Jorge gained solid experience about the study of the heart development and the epigenetic mechanisms involved in this process.

In November 2019 Dr. Castillo joined Dr. Angel Raya’s group as a postdoctoral researcher, focusing on studying the role of the extracellular matrix during the cardiac regeneration processes in zebrafish.

Cristina García
Research Assistant

Cristina García studied a Higher Technical Certificate in Clinical Diagnosis laboratory techniques at the Roger de Llúria IFP between 2010 and 2012. During her studies she did an internship at the units of microbiology, blood bank & emergencies at the Moisès Broggi Hospital, as well as at the Control of Stem Cell Potency lab at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), under the supervision of Dr. Ángel Raya.

Once she obtained her B category diploma on Laboratory Animal Research, she started working as a technician responsible of zebrafish facilities maintenance and she was also carrying out the generation and care of transgenic lines. Cristina also played the role of assistant in molecular biology at the laboratory of Dr. Ángel Raya, where she had been doing her internship some time before. During this period, she acquired a great experience in both zebrafish care and laboratory techniques.

In 2015 she moved to the CMR[B] doing the same functions than before, also with the Ángel Raya’s team. In 2016 she has attended a course on the genetic basis of complex diseases at Aetel, thus increasing her knowledge in this field.

Karine Tadevosyan
PhD Student

Karine Tadevosyan obtained her specialist degree (2007-2013) in medical biochemistry at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biotechnology of Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia.

In 2010-2012 she worked as an assistant at the Laboratory of Biochemistry and Immunopathology of the Center of Medical Genetics and Primary Health Care, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia. Karine was involved in the project related to investigation of immunohistochemical and genetic approaches in the diagnosis of breast cancer. The main purpose was the identification of the most relevant technics for diagnostics of Her2/neu receptor status among FISH (Fluorescent in situ hybridization), CISH (Chromogenic in situ hybridization) and immunohistochemistry, for appropriate hormone therapy.

In 2012-2017 Karine worked as a junior researcher at the Laboratory of Human Genomics and Immunomics of National Academy of Sciences of Republic of Armenia. Under supervision of Dr. Elina Arakelova and Dr. Anna Boyajyan she performed her diploma thesis (2012-2013) related to the impact of amino acids of Shiff basis on the adaptogenic properties of the organism in ionizing radiation. The study was focused on investigation of the influence of L-histidine-isonicotinilaldehyde and Cu-L-histidineisonicotinilaldehyde on molecular-level changes in the immune and antioxidant systems of the animal organism in the conditions of ionized radiation.

In 2013-2017 Karine studied the genetic mutations of JNK/AP-1 signaling pathway in ischemic stroke. The main goal of project was the evaluation of the association of functional-genetic variants of the members of JNK/AP-1 signaling pathway with the risk of IS.

In 2016-2017 Karine worked as a physician-virologist at the Virology Laboratory of National Center of Diseases Control and Prevention, Ministry of Health, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia. During this period, she participated in workshops focused on the virus isolation procedures (maintenance of cell cultures and harvesting of isolates), biorisk management and international shipping of infectious substances.

In June 2017 Karine joined the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (CMRB) as a laboratory technician, focusing on the generation of human iPS-derived cardiac tissues for regenerative medicine purposes.

Rubén Escribá
PhD Student

After finishing his bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia in 2014, he spent six months as an ERASMUS internship fellow working in the synthetic biology department in The Sainsbury Laboratory (Norwich, UK). Afterwards, he enrolled at the international iGEM 2015 competition as a member of the UPV Valencia team.

He continued his studies and obtained a Master’s degree in Biomedicine from the University of Barcelona in 2016. His research was focused in the generation of a fluorescent reporter iPSCs line by the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tool in the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (CMR[B]).

Currently, Rubén is working on his PhD Project focused on the modelling of cardiomyopathies from patient-specific iPS cells and the CRISPR system under the direction of Dr. Angel Raya.

Laura Casado
PhD student

Laura Casado obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in 2017. After finishing, she spent three months working as an intern, thanks to the grant Oportunidad al Talento (ONCE), in the “Cellular plasticity and disease” research group at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) Barcelona.

In 2018, she finished her Master’s degree in Regenerative Biomedicine from the University of Granada. Her research was focused on the study of the expression of androgen receptor splice variants 7 and 9 during the development of prostate cancer resistances in the “Gene regulation, Stem cells and Development” research group at the Pfizer-University of Granada-Junta de Andalucía Centre for Genomics and Oncological Research (GENYO).

Currently, Laura is working on her PhD Project focused on cardiac tissue engineering using 3D bioprinting under the direction of Dr. Ángel Raya at the Regenerative Medicine Program of IDIBELL.

Yannis Lazis
PhD Student

Yannis Lazis obtained his Integrated Master’s degree (2019) in Biological Applications & Technology from the University of Ioannina, Greece. The core of his studies was directed into Biomolecular Sciences & Biotechnology and during this time, he joined Dr. Kouklis lab at the Institute of Molecular Biology & Biotechnology as an intern, obtaining experience on the differentiation of mESCs into mesoendodermal fate, as well as, on the characterization of VE-cadherin antibodies in different tissues.

He joined the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (CMR[B]) in 2018 to work on his Master thesis. His research was focused on the modeling of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy using the iPS technology and the CRISPR/Cas9 system.

Currently, Yannis is working on his PhD project focused on the heart regeneration process using zebrafish as an animal model, under the direction of Dr. Ángel Raya.

Alba Morillas
Research Assistant

Alba Morillas studied a Higher Technical Certificate in Clinical Diagnosis laboratory techniques at the Miquel Martí i Pol IES between 2013 and 2015. During her studies she did an internship at the units of Biochemistry and Immunology at the Bellvige Universitary Hospital.

Once completed the specialization, she worked at the Bellvige Universitary Hospital in departments of Special Biochemistry Hormones and Molecular Biology. During this period, she acquired a great experience in the techniques applied in molecular biology.

Since February 2018, she is a Specialist Technician of the Molecular Biology Platform at CMRB. She carries out technical supporting tasks for the researchers of the center, collaborating in different projects and research lines.

Léa Pourchet
Post Doc

Dr. Léa Pourchet obtained a double degree in 2012 as engineer with a research Master speciality in innovative materials at ITECH (Institut Textile Et Chimique) and Ecole Centrale de Lyon, in France. She started to work as research engineering at ICBMS (Institut de Chimie et de Biochimie Moléculaire et Supramoléculaire) for polymer development applied to 3D printing. She also participated in the 3D.FAB plateform creation specialized in 3D printing for healthcare.

Between 2015 and 2018, she performed her doctorate in the biotechnological field, under the supervision of Dr. Christophe Marquette at the same laboratory. Her studies was focus on the bioink development for 3D bioprinting with formulation studies and tissue characterization. This work was achieved in a collaborative environment and oriented at three problematics: skin 3D bioprinting with the dermis and its maturation towards a total skin, cartilage 3D bioprinting with mesenchymal stem cells bioprinted and the vascularization incorporation thanks to the use of endothelial cells and a perfusable tissue with a dynamic culture approach in a bioreactor.

Dr. Léa Pourchet joined the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona CMR[B] in September 2019 as a postdoctoral researcher at Dr. Angel Raya lab focusing in the complex cardiac tissue engineering thanks to 3D bioprinting using iPSCs.

Stefano Lazzarano
Laboratory Manager

Stefano Lazzarano holds a MSc in Medical Biotechnologies from the University of Florence (Italy) and a PhD in Medical Research from the Imperial College London (United Kingdom).

After his graduation, he joined as biotechnologist the Department of Experimental Pathology (University of Florence, 2009) and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford (Instituto Toscano Tumori, Science Exchange Award, 2010). Then, he was enrolled in the Imperial College London PhD Programme at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology (Kennedy Trust Prize Studentships) and awarded a PhD in 2015. During his doctoral studies, Stefano´s scientific interests focused on the regeneration of human tissue (cartilage) and biological mechanisms underlying the maintenance of adult cellular phenotypes. Afterwards, he refined his understanding of the Stem Cell Biology and Genetic Engineering at the Friedrich Miescher Laboratory of Max Planck Society in Tübingen (Germany). Here, as postdoctoral staff scientist, he developed a genetic engineering method to achieve greater genetic mapping power in mammals without using animals.

In 2020, Stefano joined the P-CMRC as Molecular Biology Specialist and Laboratory Manager of the Raya´s group. He supports the laboratory on designing and implementing molecular biology techniques, as responsible for training new scientists and supervising the overall operating procedures.

Fernando Gutiérrez
Post Doc

Fernando Gutiérrez del Burgo obtained a BSc in Biology (Biology/Biochemistry) by Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) in 2000. After some years dedicated to activities unrelated to science, Fernando completed a MS in Genetics and Cell Biology from UAM in 2013 and joined the laboratory of Prof. Martinez at the Immunology and Oncology Department, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB) in 2014 as a research assistant.

Fernando started his PhD in 2015, directed by Dr. Ricardo Villares and Prof. Carlos Martínez, on a project related to the maturation and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells in a conditional mouse model carrying a deletion of exon 16 of Dido1 gen only in hematopoietic cells. Mutant mice failed to undergo proper B cell differentiation due to the lack of DIDO3 complete protein, a reader of chromatin status, in the mouse hematopoietic compartment. The results of this project showed that reduced DNA accessibility in hematopoietic precursors led to severe deficiency in the generation of successive B cell differentiation stages. In addition, mutant mice showed peripheral immunodeficiency, highlighting an important function of DIDO3 in the proliferation and extra-medullar maturation of B cells.

Fernando successfully defended this work and obtained a PhD degree by UAM in 2020. In December 2020, Fernando joined Prof. Angel Raya’s laboratory at the P-CMR[C] as a postdoctoral fellow funded by CIBER-BBN.

Marta Lorente
Marta Miret
Mario Barilani
Marta Farres Mendez
Isil Tekeli
Bahaa Arefai
Anna Garcia-Puig
Cybil Nelson
Sara Tamagno
Patricia Marques
Isabel Ramos
Laia Gregori
Ioannis Papadopoulos
Queralt Anglada
Dalel Saidi
Arnau Biosca
Carola Fernandez
Qi Zhu
Jonathan De Smedt
Sebasthian Santiago
Alessia Urzi
Leonard Gable
Elisa Hahn
Ipek Aktan
Eunyeong Kim
Omur Besbinar
Iannis Lazis

Eduard Sleep
Ignasi Rodriguez-Piza
Adriana Sanchez-Danes
Alba Mateos
Annarita Oranger
Marcel Orpí
Isaac Canals
Emanuelle Celauro
Clara Sanjurjo
Isil Tekeli
Claudia di Guglielmo
Juan Crespo Santiago
Juan Luis Vázquez
Marcel Orpí
Sabrina Turturro
Maria Valls-Margarit
Carles Calatayud
Zoe Boyer
Anna Garcia-Puig

Núria Montserrat
Sergio Mora-Castilla
Vlad Pekarik
Alexandre da Cruz
Adriana Rodríguez-Marí
Marianna Vitaloni
Ruben Peco
America Martinez Calleja
Julian Pulecio
Sylvia Bedford
Samuel Ojosnegros
Ina Berniakovich
Anna Seriola
Mario Notari
Meritxell Rovira

Alberto Garcia Martinez
Lluis Martorell
Senda Jimenez
Karine Tadevosyan