Biosketchs de nuevos expositores confirmados para la Reunión Anual 2019

Biosketchs de nuevos expositores confirmados para la Reunión Anual 2019

Ilona Concha. Coordinadora y expositora 

Dr. Ilona I. Concha is Full Professor at the Universidad Austral de Chile. She obtained the Biology degree from Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile in 1981. She performed her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology working on Small Nuclear RNAs in sperm cells under the direction of Dr. Luis Burzio. After finishing her Ph.D., Dr. Concha performed several postdoctoral research stays at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, USA and joined Drs. David Golde´s and Juan Carlos Vera´s group. She participated in elucidating the transport system for glucose and ascorbic acid in several cell types. For years her group has been interested in the fascinating model of cell differentiation in the seminiferous tubule. In this environment, male germ cells proliferate and differentiate in close relation with Sertoli cells. She has been interested in the metabolic aspects of transport systems, facilitative hexose transporters (GLUTs) and sodium-ascorbic acid co-transporters (SVCTs), and cytokines that increase the uptake of hexose and vitamin C and thus influence proliferation, differentiation and survival of these cells. She has also been interested in studying the physiological context of vitamin C transporters in nervous tissue. Her more recent attention has been focused on glycogen content and glycogen regulation in the seminiferous tubule.

She has also performed research stays at University of Notre Dame, USA, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, and Institute for Research in Biomedicine Barcelona, Spain. Over the years at the Universidad Austral de Chile she mentored numerous undergraduate and PhD students, published original research articles in prestigious journals, presented at several national and international meetings and is member of national and international societies. She has also been actively involved in teaching as well as in academic administration duties. At the Universidad Austral de Chile she has been Vice-President, Director of Research and Development, President of the Central Commission for Academic Evaluation, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Science and Director of the Institute of Biochemistry. She has also been President of the Sociedad Chilena de Reproducción y Desarrollo, president and now past president of the Sociedad de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular de Chile, Director of Biology 3 study group from FONDECYT, Evaluator and President of Biology II CONICYT Fellowships, Associate Editor of Biological Research, IUBMB Life Editorial Board, member of the IUBMB Fellowships Committee and IUBMB Executive Committee Member on Congresses and Focused Meetings among many others.


Dr. Rivas is a Associate Professor at the Universidad de Concepción. She obtained her Bachelor of Science, Magister in Immunology and PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology at the Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile. Subsequently, she did a postdoctoral at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado, USA and then she continued at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY10021, USA, to do another postdoc and where she remained for many years working together with her husband JCVera.

Later, she moved to the Universidad de Concepción in 2001, almost two years after her husband, and she has stayed there since then. During her career, one of the main achievements was the discovery that one of the chemical forms of vitamin C, the oxidized form, dehydroascorbic acid, was transported to the interior of cells through mammalian glucose transporters, which was published in Nature the year 1993 that expanded the research on vitamin C, how is this vitamin transported and the different types of transporters involved in obtaining this vitamin by the cells.

Since 2002, her research in Chile has been funded by Fondecyt, Fonis, PBCT-Anillo, Innova, Fondef and lately Ecos-Conicyt projects, in which she has participated as a Principal Investigator, Co-Investigator, Director and Deputy Director. She has mentored 30 undergraduated students, 10 Master students, 9 PhD students and 4 Postdoctoral training. She has published more than 60 publications in specialty journals and presented more than 160 abstract to at several national and international meetings.

The latest findings carried out by her group of study and collaborators, indicates that breast cancer cells accumulate large amounts of vitamin C and there is an augmented expression of an SVCT2 mitochondrial transporter that appears to be a hallmark across all human cancers. This discovery has a high potential in the advancement of new therapeutic procedures in human cancer.


Dr. Maite A. Castro is a Professor at Biochemistry and Microbiology Institute in Faculty of Sciences, Universidad Austral de Chile. She started her career in sciences graduating in 2000 from the undergraduate Program in Biochemistry at Universidad de Concepción. She performed her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology working on Neuro-Glia interactions in brain energy metabolism under the direction of Dr. Ilona I. Concha and Francisco Nualart. After finishing her Ph.D., Dr. Castro started her career as independent researcher at 2007. She has also performed several research stays as visiting professor at Michael Levine laboratory at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and as visiting scientist at David Clapham laboratory at Janelia Research Campus, HHMI, Virginia. Dr. Castro has been making steady progress in the mechanisms of communication between neurons and glial cells and the way they regulate their metabolism. She also has been studied metabolic neuron-glia interaction in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Her laboratory combines the use of electrophysiology on acute slices, primary cell cultures, model mice, real-time confocal microscopy, TIRF microscopy, 2-photon in vivo microscopy, molecular biology and biochemical techniques.

Dr. Castro mentored numerous undergraduate students, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, published original research articles in prestigious journals, has led several grants, presented at several national and international meetings and is member of national and international societies. She has also been actively involved in teaching as well as in academic administration duties. She has been Director of the Master in Biochemical Biotechnology, Board member of the School of Biochemistry, Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies on the Nervous System (CISNe, http: //cisne.uach cl /) and Head of International Affairs Office at Universidad Austral de Chile. She also has been member of Biomedicine G1 study-section at FONDECYT, evaluator of Biology 3 CONICYT fellowships, member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Neuroscience Research.


Dr. Garcia is a full professor at the Universidad de Concepción, institution where she developed an interest in science as a biochemistry student. Later, and fascinated with the study of brain development, she characterized unique and specialized ependymal cells of the hypothalamus termed as tanycytes. This work allowed her to gain extensive knowledge about the cellular and molecular machinery sensing glucose intake in vertebrate organisms. As a result of this work, Dr. Garcia obtained her Ph.D. degree in 2002. For several years, the Dr. Garcia’s research group has reported increasing evidence showing that this cell type is critical to regulate a glucosensing response, and set the cellular and molecular basis of this decision-making behavior. Thus, the tanycytes possess the molecular machinery to detect metabolites that reflect the energetic state of the organism, and to transmit this information to effector neurons, which are able to generate a compensatory response. Currently, her research focuses in testing the neurogenic potential of hypothalamic tanycytes in response to changes in dietary composition, and the purinergic signaling that regulate this process.

During her career, Dr. Garcia has established national and international collaborations with outstanding researchers, including Dr. Juan Carlos Sáez (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile) to study the involvement of connexin hemichannels in the glucosensing mechanism mediated by tanycytes. Dr. Ricardo Araneda (University of Maryland, USA), Prof. Bernard Thorens (Université de Lausanne, Switzerland), and Dr. Christian Steinhäuser (Uniklinikum Bonn, Germany) to study the electrophysiological response to diverse metabolites in hypothalamic neurons, the importance of GLUT2 in feeding behavior, and the role of connexin 43 in tanycyte-coupling and proliferation, respectively.

Since 2006, her research work has been continuously funded by FONDECYT. She has mentored 18 undergraduate and 12 PhD students, published 55 publications and presented at several national and international meetings. She also participates actively as an editor, paper reviewer and in outreach science activities and is part of the fellowship-CONICYT evaluation committee. In 2018, she completed a six-month stay at the University of Maryland, USA, to learn electrophysiology principles and techniques. As her research continues to expand, the use of these approaches will provide key and novel insights into how neurons control decisions about food, and how the nutrient sensing circuit is regulated.