WARNING: VERY LONG PAGE TO SCROLL DOWN!
Eicosanoid Laboratory was unofficially born in September 2000,
after the definitive arrival of Dr. Jesús Balsinde in the Institute
of Molecular Biology and Genetics (IBGM) of the University of
Valladolid. In the ensuing months, no one but Dr. Balsinde was
around, so a website at that time seemed of little use. To be
bluntly honest, at that time there was not even a physical location
for the lab. Well, actually there was a space
within four walls, but there was no lab at all. Not everything was
misfortune in those days however, as a rudimentary
office and a fully functional computer (that meaning connected to
the world wide web) were available from the very first day. Construction of the
lab proper began in July 2001 and was completed at the end of that summer,
which is the time we consider to be the official beginning
of our laboratory. Oct 1, 2001 is the date we routinely give as the
start date of our lab when specifically asked for one. More or less
at about the same time is when our group designation was heard for
the first time. A descriptive name was requested for some dull
paperwork related to the institute, and we came up with
"Eicosanoid Laboratory" in a wink.
The first person to
join the lab was Yolanda Sáez, our
who stayed initially from June to November 2001. She would re-join
in July 2002. Dr. María Balboa joined in November 2001, after
obtaining an Assistant Professor-like position from the Spanish
National Research Council (Ramón y Cajal Program).
of our website was published on-line in March 2002. A slightly
different version of the page, with white background and navy blue
lettering would follow a little bit thereafter. At that time the
site was located in the web space provided by the IBGM. In May 2002
the site was moved to a private server and got its own domain name.
In July 2002, Rebeca Pérez, our first grad student, joined the lab.
She was supported by a predoctoral fellowship from the Ministry of
Science and Technology, awarded in association with our first
competitive, R01-like research grant, not very originally titled
"Signaling Mechanisms Regulating Prostaglandin Biosynthesis in
Immunoinflammatory Cells." At about the same time,
additional funds were also secured from the Regional Government
of Castile and Leon and a private foundation, La Marató de TV3,
and our first research papers started to come along.
of this website, featuring a spanking new logo and a lesser
amateurish look was inaugurated in Sep 2002. Initially a white
background was used, but it would later be changed to light blue in
version 2.1. Version 3.0
saw the light in March 2003. Almost everything was changed from the
previous version to this one. It would last until June 2003, when
the current version (4.0) was published. It goes without saying that
version 4.0 again changed practically everything, including the
logo. The only thing that remained from the very beginning was the
picture showing the structures of arachidonic acid and prostaglandin
on the front page. With
a News page was created to serve as a sort of blog (web log) for
this site. From this point on, the News page reports on all the
exciting novelties that this lab and its members get into.
- On this day in age, the Eicosanoid Laboratory Web Page goes
through yet another facelift. Since its inception in March 2002 this
is the fourth major change of appearance the site has endured. How
long til the next overhaul?
September 10, 2003
- People from
our lab attended the 8th International Conference on Eicosanoids
held at Chicago, IL, U.S.A. Some pics of the event can be found
October 17, 2003
- Find here (now above) a brief account of the history of the
Eicosanoid Laboratory, from the humble beginnings to June 20, 2003,
when this news section was opened.
November 5, 2003
- Today is a great day for our lab. Dr. María Balboa has been given
tenure. She will be now an Associate Professor of the Spanish
National Research Council. Congratulations María!
November 8, 2003 -
Continuing with the good news, our recent work describing molecular
targets for the inhibitor bromoenol lactone during apoptosis has
just been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. This
paper is a first for so many reasons.
November 14, 2003
- And more good news! Yolanda has had a baby boy,
Adrián is Eicosanoid Lab Baby #2. Baby #1 was
born on June 4, 2001.
December 1, 2003
little bit of extra exposure is always welcome.
Our latest paper,
a collaboration with our former colleagues at UCSD, has made
it into the
of the Nov 28 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
January 13, 2004
- In the June 13 issue of Cell,
Lauber et al. published a paper demonstrating that the lysophosphatidylcholine generated on the outer surface of apoptotic
cells by calcium-independent phospholipase A2
may act as an eat-me signal for disposal of the apoptotic cell. Of
all papers published in our area of research during 2003, this is
the paper we judge to be the most influential, and thus designate it
Paper of the Year 2003.
January 14, 2004
you ever wonder how the Eicosanoid Lab looked like? Quench your
curiosity by looking at these
(not of very good quality, pardon us).
February 29, 2004
- By popular demand, a page containing the most relevant articles published prior to the foundation of the Eicosanoid
Lab has been created. The page can be accessed from a link on
the bottom of the Publications page.
(Page removed on Jan 9, 2009).
March 9, 2004
evaluation of the research achievements and general performance of
our lab was conducted today in Madrid by people of the Ministry of
Science and Technology. This institution provides a significant
portion of our research funds.
March 12, 2004
Yesterday, a terrorist attack on the city of Madrid, hometown of
some of us, claimed the lives of two hundred people and injured over
a thousand others. In remembrance of the victims of this senseless
tragedy, a black ribbon is placed for a week on the front page of
March 16, 2004
regard to the Madrid tragedy, we are grateful to those old friends
and comrades of our San Diego days —some of whom we had not heard from
in years— who have sent us messages of support: Andreu (currently in
Barcelona, Spain), Yasu (Kobe, Japan), Ismael (Córdoba, Argentina),
Kilian (Copenhagen, Denmark), Tina (still in San Diego), David
(Durham, North Carolina), Bernardo (Toronto, Canada), Richard (also
in Toronto, Canada).
April 15, 2004
- This is quite interesting. The Spanish National Research Council
has recently made public an employment offer that includes the
creation of a research position in our institute, in the broad field
of Cellular Physiology (Associate Professor rank, tenured) The
position is not to be resolved by a local search committee, but
rather at a national level, by a committee specifically designated
to this effect. Dr. Jesús Balsinde has been selected for this
committee as the Institute representative. This assures countless
hours of fun for the coming months.
April 27, 2004
- Another good one. By royal decree of April 17, the Ministry of
Science and Technology has been suppressed. We now depend on the
Ministry of Education and Science. Ain't this a great country or
- As the old Spanish proverb says, there is not a two without a
three. After 'only' seven months, Dr. María Balboa's full
appointment to faculty has been made official today.
- Today we are happy to welcome Montse Duque as a new member of the
Eicosanoid Laboratory. Montse is a Research Technician of the
Spanish National Research Council.
- An interesting paper, pompously titled "The scientific impact of
today in Nature. In the
article, the quantity and quality of science in the 31 countries
that account for 98% of the world's highly cited papers is measured.
Spain ranks 8th in number of papers published during the period
1997-2001, which seems like an excellent position. However, in terms
of scientific impact of the research, Spain drops to 12th and, if
the results are normalized to take into account the average number
of citations per paper, Spain is 17th. Not very good, methinks.
- In a
that arrived today, we were informed that the International
Biographical Centre at Cambridge, England, had
nominated us for the 'prestigious' International Health
Professional of the Year 2004 Award. Not clear how serious this
is, but it looked like fun to mention it here. Besides, they
themselves style the award as "an impressive accolade" and "a
justifiably deserved honour"...
August 13, 2004
The country is in the midst of its traditional August shutdown, when
practically nothing gets done and nobody moves an unnecessary
muscle. In spite of this, the Ministry of Education and Science has
just announced the research projects to be funded for the period
2005-2007. Our lab has been treated nicely and most of what was
applied for has been granted. Unfortunately however, funds for
personnel have not been increased. This may hurt our chances of
hiring new people anytime soon, which could be a pity.
September 30, 2004
Changes of personnel in the Eicosanoid Lab. On Sep 1, Mercedes
Alonso, a Research Technician of the Spanish National Research
Council, temporarily joined the ranks. On an opposite note, Roberto
Melero left the building. We wish him well in his future endeavors.
October 9, 2004
2nd International Conference on Phospholipase A2
was held in Berlin, Germany. Our lab could not miss such an event.
and not particularly good, sorry.
October 23, 2004
- The people of the International Bibliographical Centre are, no
doubt, persistent. After distinguishing us with the
"International Health Professional of the Year 2004" award (see July 16
entry above), they are naming us "Leading Health Professional
of the World 2005". Thank you very much, but we are not buying any
commemorative item this time either.
November 15, 2004
- Today is St. Albert the Great's day, patron saint of chemists all
over the world (or at least the Catholic world). Great day today to
learn that our favorite toy is on its way home. More on this later.
- This was a long time coming. We open today a new section, called
Schemes. As the name implies, this section houses miscellaneous
material related with eicosanoid research.
(With regret, this section was
removed on Jan 9, 2009).
December 14, 2004 -
Another new member for the Eicosanoid Lab, Alberto Sánchez Guijo. He
is a Research Technician of the Spanish National Research Council,
and will be working in the confocal microscopy facility.
December 22, 2004
- We celebrated today our
Annual Christmas Luncheon. This year,
Italian cuisine. Last year it was traditional Castilian, and the
previous one, Chinese.
January 4, 2005
- Happy New Year, folks. Last
and co-workers published a paper in JBC describing the group
V phospholipase A2 null
mice (Satake et al., JBC 279: 16488-16499, 2004). These animals
exhibit decreased eicosanoid production in response to stimuli of
the innate immune response, thus providing genetic proof to the work
that we and others were conducting during the 90's in in vitro
systems. This is the article we distinguish as the most influential
in our area of research for the last twelve months and, therefore,
Paper of the Year 2004.
January 10, 2005
- More people for the the Eicosanoid Lab: Olimpio Montero, a Project
Scientist of the Spanish National Research Council, and José Pindado
and Violeta Ruipérez, graduate students. Olimpio will be in charge
of our spanking new mass spectrometry facility. By the way, our
current designation as 'Eicosanoid Laboratory' is about to be
January 18, 2005
- The Contact page has been refurbished with pics of some singular
buildings of Valladolid (churches, of course, we are in Castile).
Our old friend
Pablo de Valladolid, who was with us from
the beginning, had to go. Gotta think where to place him now.
January 21, 2005
Javier Casas, a graduate student, officially joins the Eicosanoid
Laboratory today. He comes from another lab in the institute, as his
previous supervisor moved away.
February 1, 2005
- Effective today, the Eicosanoid Laboratory is no more. It has been
split into two, one headed by Dr. Jesús Balsinde, and the other by
Dr. María Balboa. These two research labs constitute the new Eicosanoid
Research Division. In accordance with this exciting news, a
nice new banner was created, and some minor adjustments
to the look of the site have been introduced, i.e. slight variations
in the scheme of colors, and setting Arial as the default font. This
is site version 4.1.
February 2, 2005
- An inconsequential addition to yesterday's entry. This is for
the nostalgic. The old banner and front page layout can be found
February 3, 2005
“iPLA2, more than
simply a terminator”. This is the apt
title for a
commentary on our latest JBC paper that
appears in the Dec 2004 issue of the Spanish Biochemical Society
Bulletin. Something in our work must have caught the editor's
attention, since we did not submit any information or were asked
about this. We thank the Society for the free exposure.
February 4, 2005
Sometimes it looks as though news pile up one on top of another, as
this is the fourth entry in four straight days. Our long awaited toy
(see Nov 15 entry) is finally a reality: a Bruker esquire6000
ion-trap mass spectrometer equipped with electrospray and
atmospheric pressure chemical ionization sources, and interfaced
with a Merck LaChrom Elite high-performance liquid chromatograph. We
are going to have much fun with this instrument.
February 11, 2005
- In the coming months the
Institute is set to move to its own building, situated close to our
present location in the Health Sciences Building, and also to the
University Hospital. The building is still under construction. This
picture was taken last week by our grad
student Javi Casas. The laboratories of the Eicosanoid Research
Division will be located in the upper floor along the building's
longer side that is shown in the picture. The main entrance is in
the opposite side.
February 19, 2005
- The 2005 Official Group
Picture of the Eicosanoid Research Division is
here... incomplete, as not everyone was
around at the time of taking the photograph. A complete pic may
March 3, 2005
- Members of our division designed a
mini-brochure for the Institute, to be
used as our presentation card for some upcoming fair-like event. Not
clear how long will the brochure be in use after said event, but
that is okay; it was fun.
March 22, 2005
It now appears that this humble website generates more interest
among certain people than we ever expected. This entry is especially
dedicated to them. Olimpio Montero and Alberto Sánchez Guijo are not
lab technicians. They do not prepare buffer solutions, clean up
glassware, or perform any other kind of technician service for us,
almighty faculty personnel of the Eicosanoid Research Division.
Olimpio and Alberto are in charge of equipment that lends service
not to a few chosen ones, but to the whole Institute. However,
destiny has it that the pieces of equipment that Olimpio and Alberto
operate ultimately depend on the faculty personnel of the Eicosanoid
Research Division. It is as simple as that. Everything else is
gossip and distortion.
March 25, 2005 -
Good Friday, huge thing here in
Valladolid. Returning to the place this section should have never
abandoned, a.k.a. science, we would like to highlight the
recent work by Adam Sapirstein and
co-workers demonstrating that cytosolic group IVA phospholipase A2
cyclooxygenase-2 expression in mouse brain. These studies take
advantage of the cPLA2
knock-out mice, and thus provide genetic evidence for the sequential
model of regulation of cyclooxygenase-2 induction by cPLA2
products that we proposed a few years ago.
March 28, 2005 -
The two research labs of the Eicosanoid Research Division have
entered into a strategic alliance with four other groups of the
Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics. This has resulted in
the creation of the Innate Immunity & Inflammation Unit (I3U), which
will soon incorporate as a research department of the Spanish
National Research Council in Valladolid. A website for the I3U is in
April 19, 2005
Another facelift for the site, version 4.2. The front page has been
re-designed in a much less verbose manner. The previous front page
has morphed into a new section, Introduction, which can be accessed
from the navigation menu on the left. Instead of the classical
arachidonate and prostaglandin G2
structures, the front page now features a
molecule, courtesy of our grad student José Pindado.
April 20, 2005
- Following up on the March 28
entry above, the I3U website
is finally on-line. Any similarity of
that site with this one may not be purely coincidental. Usual
lurkers please note that the I3U site is primarily intended as a
CSIC people thing. A link to the I3U website has been placed on the
bottom of the Introduction page.
(Note added on Jan 9, 2009 – The I3U website was taken offline in
Oct 2006 after a website for the IBGM was created).
April 28, 2005 -
The bothering issue of dead links in the Publications section has
been on-going for several months. This was due to a problem with the
server where the files were stored. The files have now been moved to
the much more reliable I3U server, which should put a definitive end
to this matter.
29, 2005 - These two panels are from
the superb 'Asterix and the Great Crossing' comic book, and reflect
quite well some recent events. But the decurion is right, 'anger is
a brief madness'...
May 2, 2005
- The following is an excerpt from the
beautiful Pixar short film Boundin',
which may or may not have something to do with our institute and its
circumstance: "sometimes you're up and sometimes you're down.
When you find that you're down, well, just look around, you still
got a body, good legs and fine feet, get your head in the right
place and, hey, you're complete". We earnestly agree that it's
nice to know that there are Jackalopes around.
May 5, 2005 -
The newspaper El Mundo made public its annual appraisal of the best
Universities in Spain. Universities from Madrid and Barcelona
dominate the ranking, with the Autonomous University of Madrid
taking the hot spot. No surprise there. What may result a bit
surprising for some is that, for all its past glory, the University
of Valladolid did not make it to the list. Food for thought.
May 6, 2005 -
yesterday's entry: despair not, ye olde folks, for our Division
counts with the talents of two people, María Balboa and Violeta
Ruipérez, who received their degrees from Spain's #1 University!
May 24, 2005
- Just another facelift to the site, version 4.3. The front page has
been re-designed again, and different sets of images have been added
to every section. Following up on the Jan 18 entry, one could well
say that a bright spot was finally found for Pablo de Valladolid
–the most astonishing piece of painting ever done, according to Edouard Manet–, in the
May 27, 2005
- It took time, but we all finally got
together for the complete 2005 Eicosanoid Research Division
Group Picture. Take a look at it
June 22, 2005
- The new IBGM building was
inaugurated yesterday by the Minister of
Education and Science. Many big fishes of the scientific and local
scene, including the President of the Spanish National Research
Council and the Rector Magnificus of the University of Valladolid,
attended the event. Everything was so pretty, but the building is to
remain unoccupied for at least one more month. Getting on to the
important stuff, food was scarce.
July 15, 2005
- It was twenty years ago today Sgt. Pepper taught the band to
play... In our case it was twenty years ago today since
graduating from college, and
this is something we once drew to raise
funds for the magical mystery end-of-college tour.
July 19, 2005
- Move of the Eicosanoid Research Division to the new IBGM building
was completed today. People say they love the new facilities.
August 17, 2005
We just received communication that two private foundations,
Fundación Mario Losantos del Campo and Fundación La Caixa, have
resolved to fund our lipidomics research for the next three years.
As Col. Hannibal Smith so eloquently put it, we love it when a plan
September 1, 2005
- We welcome David Balgoma, a graduate student, as a new member of
the Eicosanoid Research Division.
September 24, 2005
- The 46th ICBL Meeting was held in Corsica, France. Great
conference, great venue, and also a great opportunity to meet
old friends we had not seen in a long
October 3, 2005
- The local newspaper El Día
de Valladolid published an
interview with Jesús Balsinde about
Alzheimer Disease and prostaglandins (in Spanish).
October 4, 2005
- We've got Eicosanoid Baby #3! Yesterday, Yolanda gave birth to a
baby boy, her second child. The baby's name will be Héctor.
October 19, 2005
- A mini-symposium titled "Atherogenesis and Metabolic Disorders.
From Genetic Alterations to Pathogenic Mechanisms" was held here in
Valladolid, as a part of the XXIV Meeting of the Spanish Society of
Clinical Biochemistry and Molecular Pathology. Since there is always
a first time, or so they say, we spoke about lipidomics.
November 2, 2005
Today, Martín Valdearcos joins the Eicosanoid Research Division.
Martín is our first non-Castilian grad student, as he hails from
November 10, 2005
- The research support history of our division, past and present,
has been added to the site. This
info is accessible from a link on the bottom of the Research page. (This
pdf document was replaced with a true html page in Dec 2011).
November 11, 2005
- A new banner presides over the site. This banner, more in the
spirit of older ones, uses a sea dawn image for the background (thanx
for the pic, Bill). The previous banner featured the Madrid night
sky, and can be found
November 29, 2005 -
The Eicosanoid Research Division website moves today to a new
webhost. Our previous host, Retecal, will shortly go out of
business. It is fair to acknowledge that Retecal provided an
outstanding service for the three and a half years we were with
December 23, 2005
- Christmas time is here again, and with it, our famous
Annual Christmas Luncheon. This year it
was Brazilian food. Tasty.
December 26, 2005
- In the fourth centennial of
Don Quixote, we send you
Christmas greetings from the foot of the
January 5, 2006
- It was no easy task to decide
on which paper to pick as
Paper of the Year 2005.
In the end, our decision was to select the paper that
and co-workers published in the July 1 issue of JBC. In this paper, three new murine
enzymes with homology to group IV members were described. With
these, the total number of genes encoding functional phospholipase A2
proteins in mammals reaches the whopping number of 22. One only
wonders how many more PLA2s
still remain to be discovered.
January 9, 2006
- It is customary in these lands for institutions, businesses, etc.
to distribute small wallet calendars at the beginning of each year.
Here is ours (Spanish National Research
Council in Castile & León) for 2006.
January 17, 2006
- Group meetings resume after
Christmas break. Winter 2006 schedule posted
here for quick reference.
January 25, 2006
pics of our labs. The pictures were taken
shortly after our move to the new building (July 2005), and that is
why the benches look so empty. The bosses are
February 1, 2006
- In the Jan 2006 issue of
ASBMB Today, newsletter of the American Society for Biochemistry and
Molecular Biology, there is an
article giving some practical advice to
people who just begin an independent scientific career in the US.
This is very instructive reading. Too bad that the Spanish system
works so different.
February 2, 2006 -
The official 2006 Group Picture
of the Eicosanoid Research Division can be found
here. No lab coats this time.
February 16, 2006
- Some more pics of our labs,
here. As these are very recent pics, the
benches look closer to the organized chaos which every good mannered
lab should be in.
February 20, 2006
- The good guys at
The Free Dictionary utilize the following
sentence to exemplify the proper usage of the expression "throw a
tantrum": When you are a grown-up, you don't throw a tantrum if
something offends you, you discuss it. Some people in the
neighborhood could browse the Free Dictionary more often.
February 24, 2006
Never ever give up! Not entirely clear
whether this is referring to the frog or the stork, but what is
definitely clear is that when hit comes to raal right mass
spectrometrin' in Valladolid, 't ain't no easy thing to do.
March 1, 2006
- Clarification: the sentence in italics in the entry right above
this one is evidently adapted from a verse from Paul Laurence
When Malindy Sings.
March 15, 2006
- It's always nice to meet old friends you had not seen in years.
Yasu Shirai from Kobe, Japan, crossed half the globe to pay us a
visit here in Valladolid. Needless to say,
it was such a great time.
March 21, 2006
- "Springtime has come, and no one
knows how it happened"
(Spanish proverb). In Spanish, that
rhymes. Spring 2006 group meeting schedule
March 28, 2006
- In the March issue of the newsletter of the Spanish Society for
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology there is a
comment on our recent paper in
Molecular Biology of the Cell. This is the second time that one
of our papers deserves the attention of the editors (see Feb 3, 2005
entry). We thank again the Society for the free exposure.
April 4, 2006
- In the latest issue of JBC there is a
paper from George Carman's lab identifying
the gene encoding a magnesium-dependent phosphatidic acid
phosphatase enzyme in S. cerevisiae. Interestingly,
this gene turned out to be a homolog of the mammalian gene LPIN1,
which encodes lipin, a protein involved in adipogenesis. This paper
represents a major breakthrough for the lipid field, since of all
enzymes involved in phospholipid biosynthesis in eukaryotic cells,
magnesium-dependent phosphatidic acid phosphatase was the only
one that remained to be described at a molecular level. As the JBC
highlights in an editorial, the lipid synthesis story is now
May 4, 2006
- Days of agitation and excitement for the University of Valladolid,
as the run for the Rectorial Chair rages on. Since our employer is
the Spanish National Research Council, not the University, this
election stuff is a lesser issue for us in particular. Whether the
same can be said for the Institute as a whole remains to be seen.
May 30, 2006
that the election for rector of the University of Valladolid is
finally over, we will just add that somehow, confusing times lie
June 16, 2006
- A one-day lipid workshop, gathering together scientists from
Spain, France, and Italy was held in Barcelona. A nice initiative
that deserves continuity.
June 20, 2006
- "Time is an awkward
inconvenience between soccer matches"
(Albert Camus, French writer). We agree. Summer 2006 group meeting
July 7, 2006
- Albert Camus also said that all that he knew most surely about
morality and obligations, he owed to soccer. It could be that soccer
is not of much interest to some in the neighborhood.
July 14, 2006
- Yesterday, Rebeca Pérez successfully defended her thesis
dissertation as a final fulfillment of the academic requirements for
a Ph.D. degree from the University of Valladolid. Rebeca has been
our first graduate student here in Valladolid, and we wish her well
in her future endeavors.
August 1, 2006 - Some chaps
are still bold enough to embark themselves (and their families) in a
quest for new frontiers of knowledge a.k.a. sabbatical year. Our
esteemed colleague Quique, former companion of so many beers since
the golden San Diego days, is one of them. He and his family are
currently in the "almost" step of their journey: almost bought a
car, almost rented an apartment, almost found a school for the
kids... However, all of these adventures take place in San
Francisco, and that definitely pays for everything, whether or not
you wear some flowers in your hair.
September 5, 2006
- As the old proverb says, "Men are masters of their silence but
slaves of their words". Mary Ann Hogson-Curley and us
thinking about it.
September 9, 2006
- Palm trees galore in
Elche, Eastern Spain. Time for some cell
signaling stuff under the auspices of the Spanish Biochemical
September 18, 2006
- We welcome Alma Astudillo, a graduate student, as a new member of
the Eicosanoid Research Division.
October 2, 2006
- The Fundación La Caixa Biomedical Forum
Meeting was held today in Barcelona. Violeta Ruipérez presented our
latest results on cyclooxygenase-2 regulation.
October 5, 2006
- "You do not know how the
monkey sweats" (Ancient African
proverb). Fall 2006 group meeting schedule
October 6, 2006
- After the "International
Professional of the Year 2004" (July 16, 2004) and the "Leading
Health Professional of the World 2005" (October 23, 2004) award
nominations, today it was the turn of the "Man
of the Year 2006" award. This one is from
the American Biographical Institute and, according to them,
reserved only for men who have significantly enhanced world
communities and professions...
November 29, 2006
- After swift negotiations, the Eicosanoid Research Division has
signed an agreement with the pharmaceutical company PharmaMar to
study various aspects of lipid metabolism in cells treated with
anticancer drugs. This is exciting news, and a big step in the right
direction for us.
December 4, 2006
More good news. We have been admitted into something called
Thematic Networks for Cooperative Investigation, an initiative
launched by the Spanish Ministry of Health to foster cooperation
between groups working on similar areas of biomedical interest. What
this means in layman terms is that extra money to hire personnel
will be made available to us. We are included in the network
"Diabetes and Related Metabolic Disorders".
December 20, 2006
- We celebrated today our highly-praised Annual Christmas Luncheon.
Argentinian food (which is to say meat) was our pick this year. Pic
of the event
January 8, 2007
Paper of the Year 2006
is a very recent one. It was published in the December issue of
BBA Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids by
Jon Arm and
colleagues. In this paper, genetic evidence
is provided for the existence of two mice phenotypes regarding the
involvement of secreted group V phospholipase A2
in the production of cyclooxygenase-2-derived mediators. This
somewhat unexpected finding may help clarify some poorly described
aspects in this rapidly-moving field.
January 9, 2007 -
"Wisdom pursues me, but
I am faster" (Spanish proverb). Winter
2007 group meeting schedule
January 10, 2007
- No corporative pocket calendar this year. Instead,
this one, so as to increase the cheesiness
quotient of these pages.
January 12, 2007
- Eicosanoid Baby #4 arrived last week! On Wed 10, Montse Duque gave
birth to a baby girl, her second kid. The baby's name will be Nerea.
January 19, 2007
- The eicosanoid research efforts of María Balboa have been
recognized by the Diursa Prize and the
Royal Academy of Medicine. Cool.
February 1, 2007
- A long time coming, we welcome María Alonso as a new member of the
Eicosanoid Research Division. María is our first postdoc here in
February 16, 2007
- Today, an old friend of our latter San Diego days, Isabel
Varela-Nieto, came to visit us and our institute. As Mellencamp
would put it, life goes on long after the thrill of livin' is gone,
February 19, 2007
Heavy site maintenance over the past few days. Our URL is no longer
a forwarding one. Among other things, this allows for a favicon to
show in all and every page of the site. Most other things that have
changed, generally more important than the favicon, run in the
March 2, 2007
- In the
March 2 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry there is a
paper by the Shimizu lab reporting, at long last, the cloning of
lysoplatelet-activating factor:acetyl-CoA acetyl transferase, the
key enzyme in the pathway of platelet-activating factor
biosynthesis (Shindou et al., JBC 282: 6532–6539, 2007).
Interestingly, the enzyme possesses a very significant lysophospholipid: arachidonyl-CoA acyl transferase activity
suggesting that it may also play a role in phospholipid reacylation
reactions. Who could have anticipated that?
March 13, 2007 -
"It takes the same effort to
work on an important problem as on a pedestrian or trivial one" (Julius Axelrod, Nobel Laureate in
Physiology or Medicine 1970). Spring 2007 group meeting schedule
March 14, 2007
- As a part of his touring of Castile & León, Juanma Zapata, another
old San Diego friend, came over to our institute for a one-day
visit. So many good memories, so little time.
April 13, 2007 -
Cycloxygenase-2 expression regulated by products of group V secreted
hydrolysis of phospholipids, coming soon to your local library! (The
answer to a riddle that kept us busy for quite some time).
May 21, 2007 -
More for the sake of fun than for anything else, we have placed a
city tracker on the bottom of the front page. Yes, we too succumbed
to the fashion... Let's see now who's watching us out there.
May 25, 2007
- The city tracker thing did not work out (city visits were tracked
only for the most recent 24 h). Until we find another gimmick that
better suits our tastes, a visit counter has been placed instead.
May 28, 2007
- Another city tracker sits on the front page. Not the prettiest thing in the web world, but it
seems to get the job done.
June 19, 2007 -
"Tres conejos en un árbol tocando el
tambor, que sí, que no, que sí lo he visto yo"
McCartney remembering his formative years).
Summer 2007 group meeting schedule
July 5, 2007 -
Good winds for the Eicosanoid Research Division. The scores for our
grant applications to various agencies are coming, all of them
nothing short of excellent. That means we should be getting quite
significant funding for the 2008-2010 period.
August 1, 2007 - A cytosolic
/ cyclooxygenase-2 pathway regulating nitric oxide synthase
expression in macrophages, coming soon to your favorite eicosanoid
September 10, 2007
- We welcome Esperanza Esquinas as a new member of the Eicosanoid
Research Division. Esperanza is our second Andalusian graduate
September 19, 2007
- "The skin I'm in is alright with me.
It's not old, just older"
(Jon Bon Jovi, American singer and
philosopher). Fall 2007 group meeting schedule
October 11, 2007
- This is a
pic of our grad student Javi Casas having
fun while talking about phospholipases at the Annual Meeting of the
Spanish Biochemical Society, recently held in Málaga. That is a
November 15, 2007
- St. Albert the Great. A little pastime for a day like today:
pic. Of mice and women?
November 23, 2007 - It looks
like that our search for a pot of professorial gold finally came to
a successful end. Sometimes things got bad but things never got
worse. And yes, we guess you know the tune.
December 19, 2007 - Somebody
told us once that the building where the flamboyant Spanish National
Center for Cardiovascular Research stands in Madrid could make for a
very nice hotel. Who knows, maybe it was not even a joke...
December 26, 2007
- In the latest issue of JCI there is an essay, or a personal
perspective, as they call it, on how to appropriately write a
scientific manuscript (117: 3599-3602, 2007). Whether instructive
reading or not, it is certainly entertaining.
January 11, 2008
"Flower power didn't work, so what? We start again" (John Lennon). Winter 2008 group
January 15, 2008
- Tommy Shaw
used to sing about people with too much time on their hands. Case in
point: the Bio-Rad people singing
to find out who the daddy is.
January 16, 2008
- Beginning this year, our division becomes part of something called
Biomedical Research Center on Diabetes and Related Metabolic
Disorders (CIBERDEM), a virtual network sponsored by the Spanish
Ministry of Health. This initiative supersedes the Thematic Network
we were associated with for the past year.
January 21, 2008
- Pretty amusing that exchange of correspondence between the editors
of some highly-reputed journals, and Thomson Scientific
representatives (the creators and maintainers of that infamous
impact factor thing), about... uh, impact factors (latest
installment appearing in
J. Exp. Med. 205: 260).
Great if something comes out of this.
January 24, 2008
- An interesting commentary on the potential pitfalls of translating
mouse studies to humans has been published in the Jan issue of
Immunity (vol. 28, pp. 1-4). It is good that someone reminds us from
time to time that, regardless of the many genetic similarities
between mice and humans, a mouse is a mouse and a human is a human.
February 6, 2008
- We welcome Gema Pérez-Chacón as a new member of the Eicosanoid
February 20, 2008
- In the Nov 30 issue of JBC,
an co-workers published a study demonstrating that free fatty
acids can activate inflammatory signaling in macrophages via
engagement of TRL2 and TLR4 receptors. This is the article we have
Paper of the Year 2007.
March 3, 2008
- Clara Meana, a postdoctoral associate, joins today as a new member
of the Eicosanoid Research Division.
March 19, 2008
"Science and religion are sisters: the one seeks knowledge of
Creation and the other of the Creator"
(attributed to Wernher von Braun, German rocket scientist). Spring 2008
group meeting schedule
April 8, 2008
- Latrant et scitis estatint praetesquitantes estis. That is
Latin, and summarizes quite well some recent happenings.
April 11, 2008 -
is the logo of CIBERDEM, the biomedical research network we belong
to. Orange color is definitely an optimal choice and font looks
somewhat familiar. Two thumbs up to the designer. CIBERDEM website
April 16, 2008
- After the last political changes in Spain, we now depend on the
newly-created Ministry of Science and Innovation. This is the third
change in the denomination of our ministry in five years.
April 26, 2008
- The Second International Workshop on Lipid Mediators is on its
feet, up and running.
May 5, 2008 - Sometimes for
no particular reason, you get twice of something you were not
expecting to have even once. It should be fun to be around so many
distinguished lipid scholars at the BBA Editorial Board.
- So many things to do, so little time... to update this site. A bit
more than a month ago, Magdalena Canali, a graduate student from the
National University of Córdoba, Argentina, joined us for a short
stay. She will remain with us til mid June.
4, 2008 -
"Fed up of being fed up I got tired
of asking the world why, why". That is from a Joan Manuel Serrat
song, and reflects quite nicely the way we feel every time we are
summoned to those national panels for the evaluation of grants,
fellowships, etc., and are confronted with the argument that JBC is
a lesser journal just because of its low impact factor. We have
decided not to dispute anymore. Instead, we will translate
into Spanish and distribute it among the unenlightened. Maybe it
works, who knows.
- The Second International Workshop on Lipid Mediators was held Jun
12 and 13 here in Valladolid. It was much fun indeed. Some
- Today, Javier Casas brilliantly defended his PhD dissertation.
Javi is our second student to graduate from the University of
Valladolid. He will remain with us until December, when he moves to
San Diego to receive postdoctoral training. In the meantime,
there is still much confocal microscopy to do!
you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" (US President Harry S. Truman). Summer
2008 group meeting schedule
July 7, 2008 -
Our little experiment with city trackers has come to and end after
one year (see May 28, 2007 entry). Visitors from all over the globe,
with the notable exception of Japan. The cities we received more
visits from were, quite expectedly, Madrid, Valladolid and
Barcelona, in this order. It was not that expected, however,
to receive so many visits from places such as Omaha, Nebraska,
Sunnyvale, California, Emeryville, also in California, and various
Irish cities. Exotic places we received visits from include
Bangkok, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Burkina Faso.
August 2, 2008 - This of applying for a
research fellowship is getting more
and more confusing... An old but amusing cartoon dealing with
fellowships of the rings that we found in the science blog
August 28, 2008 - Also found in Sonicando, another
comic strip to remember that the
time is approaching for us to get back to doing our usual magic
September 2, 2008
Young guns for the Eicosanoid Research Division. Graduate students
Lucía Peña y Luis Gil de Gómez join our labs today.
September 21, 2008
ideal of beauty for a he-toad is a she-toad"
(Spanish proverb). Fall 2008 group meeting schedule
October 13, 2008
- Great lipidomic times for our division. Our first mass spec paper
was just accepted for publication and, in addition, we have received
confirmation that our application for the acquisition of a
triple-quadrupole apparatus has been approved.
October 20, 2008
The lipidomics field is definitely on the rise worldwide. LIPID MAPS,
the American consortium on lipidomics led by Ed Dennis, has
been awarded a $38 million renewal grant to continue research for
five more years. This is great news for us for so many reasons. SDUT
November 11, 2008
- Cryptic message: to think that you got something to report or not
to think that you got something to report...
December 11, 2008
- Yesterday, Violeta Ruipérez defended her PhD dissertation,
graduating with honors from the University of Valladolid.
December 17, 2008
- The Eicosanoid Research Division group picture of the
year 2008 can be found here.
December 31, 2008
- Good news to end the year, coming to us in a very peculiar manner.
(that one was too brilliant to pass up).
January 5, 2009
- "Hey Santa! Pass us
that bottle, will ya?" (Ian Anderson,
wise Scotsman). Winter 2009 group meeting schedule
January 9, 2009
- The article we have
Paper of the Year 2008
was published in the Sep 19 issue of Cell.
In this paper,
Hotamisligil and co-workers identified palmitoleic
acid as an adipose tissue-derived lipid hormone that stimulates
muscle insulin action and suppresses hepatosteatosis.
January 15, 2009
- Heavy housekeeping in our site for the past few days. Practically
all pages have been modified and/or updated. The front page has been
changed to show a nice macrophage cell loaded with lipid droplets.
Not without regret, the Schemes and Protocols sections have been
eliminated. This is site version 4.4.
January 20, 2009
- Just for the sake of nostalgia, this is how the front page of
v.4.3. looked like, with the
old and the
January 22, 2009
- An evaluation of the scientific performance of our Institute and
the research groups that are part of it was recently conducted by a
panel of foreign experts summoned by the Spanish National Research
Council. While the overall evaluation of the Institute was not
positive, the Eicosanoid Research Division did receive favorable
reviews. The only concern was that the research being conducted is
at the risk of leaning too much on the conservative side of things.
Interestingly, this is something that we ourselves had already
acknowledged in the
strategic plan that was submitted for the
January 23, 2009
- In the December issue of the bulletin of the Spanish Biochemical
Society there is an
article by Sonia Armengou (IRB, Barcelona)
where advice in the form of "Ten Commandments" is provided to all
those women who want to succeed in science (shortened English
here). While some of the points are
obvious, overall this is quite entertaining reading and worth to
keep in mind. On a last note, not clear why this decalogue was
intended solely for women; it suits men just as well.
January 30, 2009
On St. Bridget's day of 1593, King Henry IV of France declared that
"Paris is well worth a mass". For the moment being, that is pretty
much okay for us.
February 2, 2009
- That ingesting food rich in ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is
very good for humans no one would dispute. What it is still unclear
however, is whether ingesting extra amounts of ω-6
polyunsaturated fatty acids is harmless, harmful, or helpful. An
interesting article on this topic that has spawned an even more
interesting correspondence was published last year by
Weaver et al. in the Journal of the
American Dietetic Association (issues of July, October, and
February 27, 2009
- It is with great sadness that we have learned of the decease of
Mordechai ‘Moti’ Liscovitch from the February issue of ASBMB
Today. In the early 90's we were doing things on phospholipase D
regulation, and at that time Moti was one of the most imaginative
researchers in the field. We met him at scientific meetings over the
years. As we moved away from the phospholipase D field contact was
lost, but we kept fond memories of that nice Israeli guy.
March 18, 2009
Third European Workshop on Lipid Mediators,
a most exciting transpyrenaic enterprise, is just walking its first
steps. More info coming soon.
March 23, 2009
- "One swallow a spring -or
summer- does not make" (Ancient Greek
proverb). Spring 2009 group meeting schedule
March 24, 2009
- We read in the March issue of the the Spanish Biochemical Society
bulletin that "for some [Spanish scientists], research excellence
means just their own research and that from their buddies" (p. 28).
Some? Quite an understatement, indeed.
March 25, 2009
- "Toll signaling: next stop, arachidonic acid". Our latest
paper in the Journal of Immunology was selected for inclusion in the
of March 15. As indicated in the journal website, a small number of
papers regarded by reviewers and editors as the top 10% in their
field are highlighted in the ImmunoCast section. Sounds good (no pun
April 3, 2009
- "Prossss-taglandins, the ei-co-sa-noids creating pain are the
ones to blame - when you get inflamed and ouch! - they hurt inside
your brain". So commences the
Prostaglandin song, lyrics by Kevin Ahern
to the tune of Oklahoma. More of Kevin Ahern's wildly popular
April 30, 2009
- In the April issue of ASBMB Today there
is a delightful
to the editor talking about lipidomic initiatives in a rather
May 18, 2009
- More on journal impact factors. Some excellent points are made in
a recent article in PNAS (106: 6883-6884, 2009). This is another of
those pieces that would have to be translated into Spanish and
distributed among the chaps that populate grant evaluation panels
and promotion committees in this country.
May 26, 2009
- Update on former grad students. Javier Casas joined the Scripps
Research Institute and Violeta Ruipérez will soon join Cambridge
is the official website for the Third European Workshop on Lipid
Mediators. So far, things are progressing well, and this promises to
be quite an exciting meeting.
"Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's
living at it"
(Albert Einstein). Summer 2009 group meeting schedule
- Great news to end the academic year. Our application for the
acquisition of a Q-TOF mass spectrometer has been resolved favorably.
Our new toy will nicely complement the ion-trap machine currently
in service and the soon-to-come triple-quadrupole and GC/MS
instruments. Now we can finally say that the ERD's Lipidomics
Platform is a reality.
- Our lipidomics platform will not become a facility of the
Institute we work in. Present conditions are not the appropriate. As
for us, nothing changes.
August 11, 2009
- The idea that magnesium-dependent phosphatidate
phosphohydrolase 1 (a.k.a. lipin-1) possesses signaling functions is
gaining ground in the field. An interesting
article has just been published on the topic.
September 1, 2009
- Our latest paper in the Journal of Immunology was featured on
a site which in the words of its editorial team is "the world's most
up to date index of articles that matter in the daily lives of
physicians and other healthcare professionals". A little free
exposure is always welcome.
September 29, 2009
of Clara Meana talking about macrophages and phospholipases in
Oviedo during the annual meeting of the Spanish Biochemical Society.
Time for fun and
October 2, 2009
"When your work is an extension of who you really are deep down
inside, it is no longer a job or a career. It is a calling"
(Tweeted by Lance Armstrong, 7-time Tour de France winner). Fall
2009 group meeting schedule
October 22, 2009
- Yesterday José Pindado became our fourth student to earn a
doctoral degree from the University of Valladolid (... for life can
October 25, 2009
- A piece of musical advice from the ERD staff to a few of those who
lurk around here from time to time: Metallica's Nothing Else
particularly those of the refrain.
October 30, 2009
- Back from the Annual CIBERDEM meeting, held in Arnes, Tarragona. Friendly people, nice
place, excellent premises, and superb organization. What else could
we ask for? 2008 Annual Report
November 13, 2009
- A very instructive
on the advantages –and shortcomings– of the lipidomics approach has
recently been published in Nature Chemical Biology. Highly
recommended reading (unsure, however, that the number of
arachidonate-containing glycerophospholipids in macrophages exceeds
November 28, 2009
- Not succumbing to the temptations of joint ventures used to be
difficult in the past. Not anymore. Roger Glover, bassist and
songwriter extraordinaire, had it written some time ago:
going nowhere sitting in a dream...
December 10, 2009 - We were
asked to contribute a review
article to Inmunología, the official journal of the Spanish
Society of Immunology. It is unlikely that this article will find an audience because Inmunología is not indexed by
PubMed, but it was a nice lookback exercise anyway.
December 22, 2009
- There is no bad fifth (or so they say). Just one week ago, David
Balgoma successfully defended his PhD dissertation, and the
committee unanimously awarded him distinction. David will remain a
member of the ERD for quite some time yet.
December 23, 2009
- Gema Pérez-Chacón just finished her tenure at the ERD. While we
are sad to see Gema go, we thank her for the hard and dedicated
work, and wish the best for the future.
January 8, 2010
"After changes upon changes, we are more or less the same" (Paul Simon, American songwriter).
Winter 2010 group meeting schedule
January 13, 2010
- The local newspaper
El Norte de Castilla
informed its readers a couple of days ago that, according to some
sources, the University of Valladolid currently ranks 1,332 out of
2,000 centers in scientific productivity in Spain. Although none of
our business, if true, this news is disturbing.
January 14, 2010 -
article that we have distinguished as
Paper of the Year 2009
was published in the Feb 17 issue of PNAS. In this
Ejsing et al. reported the use of a shotgun lipidomics
approach to study the lipidome of the yeast S. cerevisiae.
They identified and quantified 250 unique molecular species,
belonging to 21 different lipid classes under various growth
conditions. This is quite an achievement, not only from a technical
perspective, but also from a cell regulation context. As pointed out
in a commentary that accompanied the paper (PNAS 106: 2089-2090),
genes and transcripts do not always predict the precise levels of
active proteins/enzymes, and knowledge of the actual lipid
metabolite levels is more predictive of metabolic implications.
February 20, 2010
- A necessary warning to bold navigators. It was not us who sank the
idea of a dedicated lipidomics facility for the IBGM. Those who
really know us, please do not be misled by the usual mermaid chants.
March 9, 2010
- We recently learned of the existence of something called CAMAG
TLC-MS Interface. Nowadays the sciences advance at barbaric rates
(that's a Spanish joke).
March 25, 2010
"Wretched Castile, yesterday the dominating one, wrapped in her rags
scorns all that she does not know"
(Antonio Machado, Spanish poet). Spring 2010 group meeting schedule
March 27, 2010
- It is half-amusing half-flattering to receive proposals from time
to time to insert commercial ads in our website. For obvious reasons
we do not sell advertising space (and, for the same obvious reasons,
our site's URL does not end in dot-com – the latter not that obvious
April 30, 2010
- Our student David Balgoma has just left the building for the
whiter pastures (...) of Stockholm, the Karolinska Institute, to
pursue postdoctoral training in lipidomics. We wish him luck and
weak institute in terms of quality and scientific output"; "a
coherent and integrated research program does not exist"... Nice
comments directly taken from the Spanish National Research Council's
Action Plan for 2010-1013, Biology & Biomedicine Section, page 13,
last paragraph. Nothing to worry about though, no one is going to do
- Unrelated to science, we have just learned that Ronnie James Dio
passed away on May 16. Only a few months ago we had been so amused
at discovering a Dio poster in the lab of a very recent former
president of the Spanish National Research Council. Following Dio's
advice, we will not talk to strangers who are there to do us harm.
21, 2010 -
We welcome graduate student Carlos Guijas as a new member of the
Eicosanoid Research Division.
- The Third European Workshop on Lipid Mediators was a resounding
success, with over 200 attendees, nice atmosphere, outstanding venue
and excellent scientific content.
- Olimpio Montero, colleague, friend, and mass spec companion, has
left the IBGM and hence, the Eicosanoid Research Division. Better
times await him in his new destination. He will be missed.
who is born a square cannot die a circle"
(Gennaro Gattuso, Italian fantasista). Summer 2010 group meeting
- We welcome Julio Rubio as a new member of the Eicosanoid Research
Division. Julio is a CIBERDEM postdoctoral fellow.
- Somebody once said that the important things in life are very few
(entire quote to appear here shortly). Science may or may not be one
of them, but certainly, winning the World Cup
tops the list. Despite what others may
say, this is cooler than publishing in any of the glamour journals,
we tell ya.
- Everybody knows what genomics or proteomics is but, frustrating as
it may be, not everybody knows what lipidomics is or, better, what
lipidomics is good for. Hence review articles like
by Shevchenko and Simons are always welcome, if only for the very
high audience they target.
August 11, 2010
evaluation of CIBERDEM by external reviewers has concluded and our
group received accolades such as "very competitive, established
expertise and excellent track record", "very good productivity in
numbers and quality", or "topic of research timely and highly
interesting". We dedicate this entry to the usual lurkers with all
our affection. By the way,
is the CIBERDEM 2009 Annual Report (our part).
August 13, 2010
- Some good pieces of advice on how to prepare an
liberally taken from the net. Perhaps some of our students, past and
present, may find interesting to follow point #5 more often.
September 13, 2010
- The ICBL meeting always represents a great opportunity to meet
colleagues and friends not seen in a long time. Also a great
opportunity to enjoy Bilbao and the warmth of its inhabitants.
September 18, 2010
- Sun, horses, flamenco dancers... and
featuring prominently in the Spanish Biochemical Society Meeting
recently held in beautiful Córdoba.
September 24, 2010
"Never overdramatize things, as everything can be fixed; keep a
certain detachment from everything, as the important things in life
are very few"
(Giulio Andreotti, Italian politician). Fall 2010 group meeting
October 13, 2010
- Every once in a while, our beloved institute suffers from
shattering identity crises in the form of elections for director.
This time it should be fun to watch the bulls from the fence.
October 15, 2010
- We welcome Gema Lordén, graduate student, as a new member of the
Eicosanoid Research Division.
October 30, 2010
- Back from the Annual CIBERDEM Meeting. This time it was held in
Prullans, in the Catalan Pyrenees. Such a nice and friendly
Now the fun starts at home.
November 18, 2010
- An introductory symposium for the
was held yesterday in Madrid. From the data presented it looks like
a good idea to increase our daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
December 20, 2010
- Nice little
to celebrate the season. The caption says "Enjoy Christmas with your
family". Last Oct 28, the unthinkable and/or unexpected, depending
on viewpoint, did happen. So yes, let's celebrate the season with
December 23, 2010
- Another high profile
was recently published, this one in the Dec 10 issue of Cell. Also,
in the Leading Edge section of the the same issue there is a short
report, titled "Lipids Out Loud", highlighting some recent key
advances in lipid signaling.
January 7, 2011
- "Beati Hispani quibus vivere bibere est"
(Fortunate Spaniards, for whom to live
is to drink) (attributed to Julius Caesar, Roman emperor). Winter
2011 group meeting schedule
January 12, 2011
- The article we have selected as
Paper of the Year 2010
was published in the Dec. 17 issue of
J. Biol. Chem. by
Dennis and associates. In this work the lipidomic response of the murine
macrophage RAW cell line to LPS was described in terms of dynamic
changes of lipid molecular species and concomitant transcriptomic
measurements. This study is the first to provide a systems-level
view of connections between lipid signaling and biochemical pathways
that contribute to innate immune responses.
February 9, 2011
- We just learned that a heart attack took the life of an old friend
from times past, J.G.M. Today, the quotation that opens the
Introduction section of this website makes more sense than ever.
February 24, 2011
- They came to burn our cabin once again. They forgot their matches
were wet. How sad.
March 2, 2011
- Since yesterday, this site can also be accessed from the address
(also without the w's). No doubt this was a
March 7, 2011
- Suzanne Pfeffer, ASBMB President, writes in her monthly column on
ASBMB Today, Jan issue: "elite journals tend to seek out trendy
science. That's okay; trendy science sells magazines, but a lot of
excellence can be found elsewhere". Not that obvious
for many committees out there.
March 11, 2011
- Continuing on the same subject as the preceding entry, we find it
quite disturbing that so many people fail to see a difference
between "high impact journal" and "high impact factor
March 16, 2011
- In remembrance of the Institute's Governing Board Meetings, we hereby
introduce the Directorial Quotes. This is an affectionate attempt to
summarize, using the words of others, some recent activities and/or
overall feelings of our institute. Needless to say, this is intended
for fun, nothing else. Directorial Quote #1: "With great power comes
great responsibility" (Peter Parker, American photographer and wall
crawler). Directorial Quote #2: "You cannot rule me, you only want
to hang around cos I am the one you love to hate" (Rob Halford,
British metal god).
March 30, 2011
- "Envy is a declaration of
inferiority" (Napoleon Bonaparte,
French emperor). Spring 2011 group meeting schedule
April 15, 2011
- Today, Martín Valdearcos brilliantly defended his doctoral
dissertation, and was awarded maximum honors. Martín will remain
with us for some time yet, until he moves to the US for postdoctoral
April 18, 2011
E4 section of the Eicosanoid Research
Division being on their own, with no direction home, like a rolling
May 13, 2011
- Time for joy and celebration as our spanking new
logo premieres today on the front
page. Scents of Champions League.
May 17, 2011
- Our latest lipidomic
paper was published in Endocrinology, and
is a collaboration with the group of our CIBERDEM colleague Manuel
Vázquez-Carrera, from the University of Barcelona. The article was
highlighted in the News and Views section
of the journal.
June 7, 2011
- Directorial Quote #3: "I don’t know the key to success, but I know
that the key to failure is trying to please everybody" (Bill Cosby,
June 9, 2011
- Continuing with our marketing campaign, we
display our logo for everyone to see and
June 15, 2011
- "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking
what nobody has thought" (Albert
Szent-Györgyi, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine 1937).
Summer 2011 group meeting schedule
June 28, 2011
- Impact factor: who are you bullshitting? An interesting
on the hottest topic of the scientific world that we found surfing
on the net.
July 18, 2011
well; it was July and it was a summer night... Antonio Agraz, seventy-five years ago on a day like this.
July 19, 2011
- Our chapter in the 2010 CIBERDEM Annual
Report, the third one already, can be found
July 28, 2011
- Confocal, strong, important, future, complexity, details,
sophisticated, social return, signs of quality, difficult times...
and so on,
equals to science mingling with politics.
July 29, 2011
- Alma Astudillo, defended today her PhD dissertation in a very
brilliant manner and received maximum honors. Alma is our seventh
student to graduate from the University of Valladolid.
August 18, 2011
Our latest lipidomic paper was accepted for publication in JBC. For
a variety of reasons, some obvious, others not, this is much like a
breeze of fresh air in the midst of August doldrums.
September 1, 2011
- Martín Valdearcos has finally moved to the vicinity of Ashbury and
Haight to initiate his postdoctoral training in the US. We are sure
he's gonna meet some gentle people there and wish him the best (we
are counting the days to his first paper in Nature).
September 27, 2011
- Cell Signaling in Barcelona, Lipidomics in
Bilbao and Eicosanoids in
Seattle, making for interesting times.
September 29, 2011
- "Only the uninhibited use
inhibitors" (anonymous adage). Fall
2011 group meeting schedule
October 4, 2012
- One upon a long ago, the fashion was for certain ones to
inaugurate dams; we, more modestly,
mass spec courses.
October 7, 2011
Directorial Quote #4: "In a multicolored country a
honey bee was born under the sun. She was famous in the place for
her joyful nature and kindness" (author unknown).
October 16, 2011
Many changes to the website. There should be a few more in the
near future. This is version 4.5.
October 20, 2011
- Yesterday, after the dust had
finally settled, the following thought stuck to our minds for no
apparent reason: "What a good vassal if he only had a good lord!”
(Poem of Mio Cid, Castilian Middle Ages). Pic
October 23, 2011
- The 4th Workshop European Lipid Mediators, again a trans-pyrenaic
enterprise, is walking its first
October 25, 2011
- Yesterday we had the pleasure of receiving the
visit of Makoto Murakami, old
friend, colleague and former competitor. Great science and great
November 5, 2011
- One of our
pictures of macrophages full of
lipid droplets was chosen as the image for the Diabetes Awareness
Campaign of CIBERDEM. Good.
November 17, 2011
- Eugene P. Kennedy, one of the biggest icons of the lipid field,
passed away last September at the age of 92. He will be remembered
as the discoverer of the de novo biosynthesis pathway of major
glycerophospholipids. In a way, Eugene Kennedy was our scientific
grandfather, since he mentored our mentor in lipid research.
Also, he communicated one our
postdoc papers to PNAS.
November 18, 2011
- Juan Pablo Rodríguez, from Corrientes, Argentina, joins today the
Eicosanoid Research Division as a postdoctoral research associate.
November 24, 2011
- Another poem of the Spanish Middle Ages to illustrate some recent
happenings: "Abenámar, Abenámar, Moor of the Moorish land, on the
day you were born there were mighty signs. Calm was the ocean and
full was the moon. A Moor who is born under these signs ought never
tell a lie..."
December 1, 2011
- Times of crisis are said to
be the best to stimulate creativity and inventiveness. Working on a
sextuple quadrupole approach to
December 7, 2011
- Directorial Quote #5: "I'm pretty tired... I think I'll go home
now" (Forrest, Forrest Gump).
December 17, 2011
- A little nice page listing our
grant support history was added
today. It will be permanently available from a link on the bottom of
the Research page.
January 2, 2012
- New year, new government in Spain. And with
it, once again, the Spanish National Research Council moves to
This time it is the Ministry of
Economy and Competitiveness (whatever that means to basic science).
While updating letterheads and so on, we wonder what the shortened
name of the ministry will be.
January 4, 2012
laugh at me because I’m different; I laugh at them because they’re
all the same" (Kurt Cobain, American
icon). Winter 2012 group meeting schedule
January 11, 2012
- In the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology,
Norris et al. published a
comprehensive study of the eicosanoid profile and protein and gene
expression of enzymes of eicosanoid metabolism in various types of
macrophages responding to bacterial lipopolysaccharide. This work
establishes a near-complete view of the differences in various
macrophage phenotypes regarding arachidonic acid metabolism, and is
the one we have selected as
Paper of the Year 2011.
January 12, 2012
- Following up on the previous entry, a
Paper of the Year page was added
today to the site. The idea is to have together in the same place
all the articles that deserved distinction.
January 21, 2012
image showing the structures of
arachidonic acid and prostaglandin G2
that featured in the Home/Intro pages since the site's inception is
now gone. Its place was taken by a 3D representation of our logo.
Inspired by the chorus of a song by Madrid's rock and roll legends
Topo, we could well say that we
live in the era of brand identity (Note added on January 15, 2014
- The 3D logo would last until May 2013, when it was replaced by the
IBGM seal. In turn, the seal would be removed altogether in Dec 2103).
February 9, 2012
- Hot off the press: lipin-2 as a novel anti-inflammatory enzyme,
coming soon to your local library!
February 22, 2012
- Only two weeks on-line in JBC Papers in Press, and our paper on
lipin-2 is garnering more interest than any of our recent
publications. The potential pathophysiological implications of
lipin-2 seem to be catching the eye of people out there.
February 23, 2012
- Still playing the police and thieves game around here. Hence, no
better time than this one to bring back to memory a couple of songs
from the Clash (here
here). Lyrically speaking, nothing
to do with anything that happened here, but who cares, it's fun and
it's good old times.
On a more scientific note, the information in the
Research pages has been
(at last) updated. Older version of the Research page
March 5, 2012
- The official 2012 Eicosanoid Research Division Group Picture can
here. As usual, we could not manage
to get all the chaps together.
March 8, 2012
- Directorial Quote #6: "Nothing really matters, anyone can see,
nothing really matters to me" (Freddie Mercury, British musician).
March 10, 2012
- In an
MBoC editorial, David Drubin,
Editor-in-Chief, states the following: "Rarely is it possible to
predict a manuscript’s future impact (...) Although we do not ask
reviewers to predict a manuscript’s impact, MBoC has published its
share of citation classics. Anyone surprised by this fact is missing
the important point: good science gets noticed wherever it is
published". In our humble opinion, "anyone" equals to "most people"
in this country.
March 18, 2012
- Ringo Starr uses to sing that drumming is his madness. Contrary to
photograph might suggest, playing
keyboards is not our madness. Full story
March 20, 2012
- We are
celebrating 10 years of our website
being on-line. So many things have happened along the way that it is
not easy to highlight only a few of them. Let's just say that a
Google search for the terms "eicosanoid" and "research" ranks our
website 4th out of about 687,000 results.
March 22 2012
- "Scientific criticism is not personal; everything is on the
(Eugene Kennedy, American Biochemist). Spring 2012 group meeting
April 13, 2012
- Most fatty acids are best known by their trivial names. While some
of these names are just that, trivial, others are not so. Hence the
usefulness of this little nice
April 30, 2012
- Sapienic acid (16:1n-10, cis-6 hexadecenoic acid) is
quite an interesting fatty acid. Among hair-bearing animals,
sapienic acid is unique to humans (hence its name), and is thought
to be unique to sebum, hair and nails, being not found anywhere else
in the human body.
May 2, 2012
- SciBX (Science-Business eXchange) is a
publication that, in its own words, provides "timely, concise and
understandable analyses of the scientific content and commercial
potential of the most important translational research papers with
the potential to transform human therapeutics and diagnostics". They
have just published a
note on our recent lipin-2 JBC
paper. Free exposure is always welcome.
May 21, 2012
- Quite enlightening
review on prostaglandins and
inflammation that was published in ATVB just one year ago (that
journal usually falls out of our radar). Highlights are the
discussion on prostaglandins of the J series and most of the section
entitled "Prostaglandins in Translation".
June 2, 2012
- Passionate plea liberally inspired by Mark 10:14 and Matthew
19:14: "Let the
next generation of youngsters come
to science, and do not hinder them, for the future belongs to such
June 7, 2012 - Talkin' lipidomics in Tarragona, very close to the Mediterranean shore, a stunning
amphiteater, and a pretty flag.
June 9, 2012
- A (necessarily) cryptic message, borrowed from John Waite of Bad
English and Babys fame, to Mary Ann Hogson-Curley: "Sometimes I
wonder if I'd ever make it through. Through this world without
having you, I just wouldn't have a clue..."
June 21, 2012
- Directorial Quote #7: "I am firmly convinced that Spain is the
strongest country of the world. Century after century trying to
destroy herself and still no success" (Otto von Bismarck, German
July 6, 2012 -
Esperanza Esquinas successfully defended today her PhD dissertation
titled "Localization and Function of Lipin-1 in Macrophages."
Congrats to her for an outstanding performance
July 12, 2012
- "Some people believe soccer is
a matter of life and death, but I can assure you it is much, much
more important than that" (Bill Shankly,
he'll never walk alone). Summer 2012 group meeting schedule
July 18, 2012
- Amidst all of the somber news about the state of our national
economy, in comes the CIBERDEM 2011 Annual Report (our part
August 10, 2012
- We welcome Elbio Leiguez, a visiting graduate student from Sao
Paulo University, Brazil, who is going to spend the next six months
in our lab.
August 23, 2012
- Bengt Samuelsson, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine 1982,
concludes in a recent
article, that his contributions
demonstrate “the power of research that is not targeted to a
specific disease but rather focuses on understanding the structures
and functions of the molecules constituting the human body.” Here in
these lands, if what you are doing has no immediate socioeconomic or
strategic consequences (whatever that means) for some awe-inspiring
Commissioner for Science and Technology, you are toast, dude.
September 7, 2012
- Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Thudichum was a German biochemist who first
described, among many other molecules, phosphatidylethanolamine and
the sphingolipids. After Thudichum died exactly 111 years ago today,
an obituary in the British Medical Journal stated that the relevance
of his work did not correspond to the time and money it cost.
Another obituary in Nature predicted that Thudichum's research would
produce little in the way of practical applications. Although time
has completely disproved those statements and Thudichum's
contributions have received the acclaim they deserve, it is
unfortunate that when it comes to awareness of the importance of
basic (lipid) science, we still are not very far from what was
thought 111 years ago.
September 9, 2012
- Heat, fried fish, some more tapas, some cell signaling too,
meeting old friends... and
all this going on in Seville.
September 18, 2012
Quote #8: "(In Spain) of every ten heads, nine ram and one thinks"
(Antonio Machado, Spanish poet).
September 19, 2012
- "It's nice to be first but
it's better to be right" (Anonymous
adage). Fall 2012 group meeting schedule
September 29, 2012
- Back from Paris, from the 4th
European Workshop on Lipid Mediators. Everything went so smooth, and
Carlos took the young session award
home! Another nice pic
October 2, 2012
- Stray picture from the previous post. Rainy day women in
Paris, or an evening of rain-soaked
October 11, 2012
- A reminder of our recent visit to Pamplona, here is a couple of
David before and after a 2-year
visit to the United States.
October 12, 2012
- Our recent JLR paper about lipid droplets and phospholipase A2
has been selected as one of only 5 research highlights of the
November issue. As we always say on these occasions, free exposure
is always welcome.
October 29, 2012
- Back from the CIBERDEM meeting in Barcelona with a lot of changes;
let's hope they're for good.
Lipins got their share of attention
this time as well.
November 1, 2012
- Vertigo is a type of dizziness usually caused by an imbalance in
the inner ear. Maybe somewhat familiar if you happen to work in the
upper floor of a research
November 7, 2012
- Great when things finally come along and the University of
Valladolid joins the list of institutions sponsoring our work for
the next four years!
November 27, 2012
- Directorial Quote #9: "When men of honor are on the battlefield
there is no room for hate or rancor" (Spanish Col. José Ximénez de
Sandoval at the funeral for José Martí, May 1895).
November 30, 2012
- Regarding the recent use of the Spanish idiom "capear el temporal"
in here, a few words of wisdom from
Hughes and Turner: "A world of trouble, betrayal and deceit. Hiding
in the shadows, there's terror in the streets. It came without
warning, no one heard the call. Ride, ride the storm."
December 3, 2012
- In the December issue of ASBMB Today there is an
article about dietary
recommendations for ω-6
fatty acids in the U.S. Some experts, notably ones affiliated with
the American Heart Association, recommend a relatively high intake
of ω-6 fatty acids. On the other side of the fence, a number of
illustrious lipid biochemists contend that this a huge mistake. Not
difficult to guess which side of the debate we are in.
December 12, 2012 - Glory days well they'll pass you by, glory
days in the wink of a young girl's eye... The E4 section of the
Eicosanoid Research Division here
(sans Carlos, it seems there is no way to get us all in a photo!).
December 14, 2012
- Good news, especially from a political point of view. The top 10
ranking of research institutions in Spain with the highest
percentage of publications in the first quartile has been recently
made public, and CIBERDEM is included for the first time in 9th
place, with a respectable 79.5% of publications. Nice.
January 8, 2013 - Simon & Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound", Beatles'
"Get Back", Ozzy's "I'm Comin' Home"... and our former student
Javier Casas talking about immune synapsis at the IBGM.
January 10, 2013 - "Errare humanum est, sed perseverare
diabolicum" (to err is human, but to persist -in the mistake- is
diabolical; Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman philosopher).
Winter 2013 group meeting schedule
January 11, 2013 - Sooner or later,
everything comes in life. So better be patient, for patience
always pays off. And patience, everyone knows, is the mother of
January 20, 2013 - Our
Paper of the
was published by
Shimizu and co-workers in the Aug 3 issue of the Journal of
Biological Chemistry. The authors found that palmitoleic acid
induces cell proliferation and seems to accumulate in
phosphatidylinositol species in response to hormones and growth
These studies define new biological roles for a fatty acid that is
taking the hot spot in lipid biology as well as novel pathways for
lipid mediator production in mammalian cells.
January 26, 2013 - Yesterday, Luis
Gil de Gómez brilliantly defended his doctoral dissertation
titled "A Lipidomic Study of the Mobilization of Arachidonic Acid
Associated to Innate Immune Responses". Luis is our ninth student to
earn a doctoral degree from the University of Valladolid, all of
them summa cum laude. Nine doctorates in eleven years ain't no
bad thing at all.
February 13, 2013 - Sebaleic acid (18:2n-10,
5,8-octadecadienoic acid), a desaturation and two-carbon elongation
product of sapienic acid, can be used for the synthesis of oxylipins,
some of which may act as leukocyte chemoattractants. Like sapienic
acid, sebaleic acid is present in human sebum and skin.
For quick reference, here is the
latest revision of our very nice fatty acid list.
February 14, 2013 - This is a bit oldie but extremely goldie.
reported some ten months ago that humans developed a unique
genetic variant for more efficient production of ω-3 and ω-6 fatty
acids. This variant is not found in Neanderthals or in our living
primate relatives chimpanzees and gorillas. This genetic adaptation
may have likely enabled a unique brain development and better
survival in environments with limited food availability.
February 17, 2013 - In the current issue of JBC (Feb 15) there
Reflection article by H. F. Bunn, where he refers to the lipid
biochemistry field as an arcane world. According to Dictionary.com,
arcane means "known or understood by few; mysterious, secret, obscure,
esoteric." Well, well, well...
February 18, 2013 - Find here
the official 2013 Eicosanoid Research Division Group Picture. As
usual, not everyone was around at the time of taking the picture.
March 14, 2013 - Directorial Quote #10: "Life's like a box of
chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get" (Forrest Gump's
March 18, 2013 - Recent reports have suggested that discrete
molecular species of phospholipids may act to directly regulate gene
expression. A very recent study, coming hot off the press suggests
that discrete molecular species of phospholipids may also act to
regulate innate immune responses. And you read it
March 27, 2013 - "There... are... four... lights!" (Capt.
Jean-Luc Picard, da man).
Spring 2013 group meeting schedule
April 15, 2013 - From the
Lipid Library blog we learn that
former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher received training in her
youth as a lipid chemist, and even published a paper (as M. H.
Roberts) before getting into politics. Since much of what is going
on today in world economics we owe to her and her transoceanic friend,
some people regret that she did not find saponification reactions
April 25, 2013 - In a Nature
editorial titled "Reducing our irreproducibility", we are
informed that the journal has come to the conclusion that forcing
the authors to cut the methods section of their manuscripts to
ludicrously short lengths was such a bad idea. It is noteworthy that
the glamour journal par excellence has taken so long to realize that
detailed methodological descriptions are key to ensuring not only
reproducibility but also credibility.
May 25, 2013 - Back from the 5th Conference on Phospholipase A2,
held in New Orleans. Great time to meet old friends, make new ones
and enjoy Southern hospitality at its finest.
May 27, 2013 - While in New Orleans, we learned about the
Peter's Laws (from Peter
Diamandis; not to confound with the Peter Principle). Some of these
laws are quite sharp, others seem to be in the list just for the
sake of being there. Fun to read anyway.
May 29, 2013 - We were saddened to learn of the untimely death
Quique Pérez Payá, one of our bestest friends in this business
of science, back from those golden San Diego days. His enthusiasm,
charm and candid ways will always be remembered. We can imagine him
riding his motorcycle on a sunny day along the seaside, just
listening to any Siniestro Total or Rolling Stones song.
June 7, 2013 - Not as cryptic as it may seem, but higher
instances requested that our 2013 ERD Group Picture be changed. Thus
we tried again, here. Not
everybody was available this time either.
June 10, 2013 - "The line must be drawn here! This far, no
farther!" (Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, da man).
Summer 2013 group meeting schedule
June 13, 2013 - We just got notice that the
Lipid Library blog mentions our latest JI paper on
diarachidonoyl-glycerophosphoinositol. The Lipid Library is a
website owned and managed by the American Oil Chemists' Society, and
contains lots of useful information for both the senior and the
wannabe lipidologist. Their blog is quite entertaining.
June 18, 2013 - Directorial Quote #11: "There is no road towards
peace; peace is the road" (Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi).
June 20, 2013 - The latest
paper from the LIPID MAPS consortium has just been published in
the Journal of Lipid Research. Careful mass spec determinations
under lipopolysaccharide stimulation show, once again, that for
studies on arachidonic acid mobilization and metabolism,
thioglycollate-elicited macrophages are anything but good.
June 22, 2013 - Having a good time in
Bilbao talking about sphingolipids, and remembering the Louis
Armstrong song "You say tomato and I say tomato".
June 28, 2013 - Not necessarily unexpected, but still sad to
realize that no matter what you do or how hard you try,
some people --primarily the young ones-- place insurmountable
barriers in between you and
them for no apparent reason. The strangest
thing of this is that they do not realize how much they lose with such attitude.
July 2, 2013 - The following was taken verbatim from a masters
degree thesis draft: "the ion trap can be regarded as a
genetically-modified quadrupole." Why bother with minor details...
July 10, 2013 - Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say,
can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today? And you tell me over and
over and over again, my friend, you don't believe we're on the
eve of destruction.
July 12, 2013 - In our humble ignorance we always saw the Faculty of 1000 (F1000)
as little more than a
popularity contest between authors and those who recommend their
papers. The thing is that our latest JI paper on PI(20:4/20:4) has
just been selected for inclusion in
F1000prime for being "of special significance in its field."
August 1, 2013 - Silly joke about the future of science in this
country: three scientists in a pub. One is from Germany, other from
the UK, and the other from Spain. The Spaniard asks the others:
"what do you want to drink, sirs?"
August 2, 2013 - According to an
that appeared in the prestigious newspaper El País, our institute
has lost 43% of its contracted personnel for the past 18 months,
which makes us second in an infamous list of CSIC centers confronted
with shrinking human resources. We must add that things are going to
get even worse. At the end of this year that figure will have increased
August 12, 2013 - A few wise words by Bob Dylan that may be
somehow related to the Jun 28 entry: "gonna change my way of
thinking, make myself a different set of rules; gonna put my good
foot forward and stop being influenced by fools."
September 7, 2013 - There is something called the
Declaration on Research Assessment, which stresses the need to
improve the way scientific research is evaluated. It suggests the
adoption of a number of practices in research assessment,
and reminds us that the scientific content of a paper is what
matters, not publication metrics or the name of the journal in which
it was published. Will the policy makers of certain evaluation
agency of this country take notice of this declaration and act
accordingly? For the good of Spanish science we hope they do, the
sooner the better.
September 16, 2013 - "If you're not part of the solution,
you're part of the precipitate" (author unknown).
Fall 2013 group meeting schedule
September 17, 2013 - Musical background for recent times:
"Oh-oh, yes I'm the great pretender, pretending that I'm doing well.
My need is such I pretend too much, I'm lonely but no one can tell."
September 20, 2013 - Directorial Quote #12: "The unbelievable
about Spain is that, with such an inept political class, the country
still exists" (Otto von Bismarck, German statesman).
September 24, 2013 - The scholarship,
mother! Finally I have been granted the scholarship! See it my son?
Perseverance, faith in oneself and... behold the power of garter
September 28, 2013 - What is it that
we do at the IBGM? Bio-chemistry, bio-logy and bio-medicine at
your reach. Or so...
October 11, 2013 - An improbable addition to our list of
sponsors is the Spanish Association Against Cancer, Valladolid
Province. Full story here.
October 28, 2013 - In a similar vein as the previous post,
another unexpected but much relieving addition to our sponsors list
is the Education Department of the Regional Government of
Castile and Leon.
November 11, 2013 - 'Only the uninhibited use inhibitors' is an
old adage that we, as biochemists interested in the mechanisms of
enzyme inhibition by small molecule compounds, always have on our
mind. Our latest paper in JI
an excellent example of this.
November 13, 2013 - "Last year, researchers at one biotech firm,
Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 landmark studies in
cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed
to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers." How
science goes wrong, The Economist, October 19th issue.
November 29, 2013 - Nice schemes of fatty acids drawn by our
associates that may eventually find their way into a future
publication, here and
December 1, 2013 - 'Get Closer to Our Scientists' is a
scientific divulgation section of the Spanish Biochemical Society
website whose title is pretty much self-explanatory. This month,
lipids and lipidomics.
December 5, 2013 - In the light of recent studies, it would not
to equate the anti-inflammatory effects of ω-3 fatty acids with the
ancient Chinese concept of yin and yang - complementary opposites.
On one hand, ω-3 inhibition of inflammasome activation could be
exploited to find treatments for highly prevalent diseases with a
marked inflammatory component such as atherosclerosis, type 2
diabetes, or arthritis. On the other hand, ω-3 inhibition of
inflammasome activation could impair pathogen clearance during acute
infections by decreasing host resistance, thus resulting in
detrimental health outcomes. Something to (really) think
December 11, 2013 - This report
describing our research interests and activities from the start of
the lab to now is/was intended for publication someplace else. Until that
happens, we post it here for the sake of convenience.
December 12, 2013 - Directorial Quote #13: "Everything has been
said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and
beginning all over again" (André Gide, Nobel Laureate in
December 13, 2013 - This
letter to Nature by David Colquhoun (of DC's Improbable Science
blog) is already ten years old, but its content remains as current
today as it ever was. The evil it exposes keeps growing and
growing with no signs to stop. We especially love this bit: "any
selection or promotion committee that asks you for impact factors is
probably a second-rate organization." The accompanying letter by
icon lipidologist Robert Michell is pretty enlightening too.
December 20, 2013 - We were surprised but delighted to find the
Spanish National Research Council in the 8th place of the
Scimago Institution Ranking Global 2013. Ranking is based on
scientific output for the period 2007-2011. This pleasant news
reminds us again that things go well when properly planned and
carried out. Due to the severe funding cuts that our institution has
recently undergone, it seems unlikely that this position can be
maintained for long. Anyway, this is very good news to end a
January 3, 2014 - "There is no better pillow to sleep than
a clean conscience" (Aristotle, Greek philosopher).
Winter 2014 group meeting schedule
January 7, 2014 - In the Oct 15 issue of the Journal of
Hwang and colleagues described the inhibition of interleukin 1β
production by docosahexaenoic acid in human
monocytes responding to palmitic acid. The ω-3 fatty acid was
found to prevent dimerization of Toll-like receptor 2 with Toll-like
receptor 1. This insightful paper is the one we have selected as
Paper of the Year 2013.
January 9, 2014 - A little later than usual,
here is the CIBERDEM
2012 Annual Report (our part), five years and counting.
January 10, 2014 - Most people, perhaps even all people, would
agree that science outreach is important. It helps promoting public
awareness and understanding of science, and makes valuable
contributions to science education. Especially in times like these,
when our beloved institute is depopulating at an alarming rate, we
keep doing our bit.
January 17, 2014 - The poster announcing the upcoming ASBMB
meeting in San Diego is so beautiful and brings back so many
memories that we could not resist the temptation of posting it
January 20, 2014 - Cholesterol, cholesterol we need you real bad, without you
we wouldn't be a mom or dad... "Lipids
Get a Real Bad Rap: It's Just Not Fair", by N. A. Michael Eskin.
January 31, 2014 - The recent proposal of an
eicosanoid storm as the unexpected consequence of inflammasome
activation in peritoneal macrophages is a very interesting
concept. Whether other fatty acids in addition to arachidonic acid
participate in this storm remains to be seen.
February 6, 2014 - Searching for metabolic fingerprints that
make it possible to detect colorectal cancer in its earliest
stages... or something to that effect while in a
February 8, 2014 - Margaric acid (n-heptadecanoic acid, 17:0) is
a saturated fatty acid that occurs in low amounts in the fat and
milkfat of ruminants. Individuals who consume dairy products in
abundance contain readily measurable amounts of this fatty acid in
their blood cells. For quick reference,
here is our very nice fatty acid
February 13, 2014 - Caring for our image outside this website,
we finally found time to update our research summaries at the IBGM
website, here (en) and
February 18, 2014 - The CIBERDEM secretariat moved from
Barcelona to Madrid earlier this year. Hence from now on our
affiliation in papers should indicate this fact. What this means is:
our papers used to come from Valladolid (IBGM) and Barcelona
(CIBERDEM); now they must come from Valladolid and Madrid. It is
these tiny details that get people so confused at times.
February 19, 2014 - Talking about "Time Management" in an
interview requested by the All
Results Journals (in Spanish).
February 28, 2014 - There is some confusion as to whether the fatty acid designations n-x
and ω-x mean the same thing, so here is our take on the matter. In a strict sense both designations refer
to different concepts; however, from a practical point of view the
difference is so slim that people generally use both
interchangeably. n is a magnitude (number of carbons), ω is
not; n-x is a subtraction, ω-x is not. n-x gives us
the position of the last double bond counting from the carboxyl
group, which is, incidentally, the proper way to count fatty acid
carbons. ω-x indicates, counting from the terminal methyl group or
omega end, the carbon at which the first double bond occurs. Let's
take arachidonic acid (20:4) as an example:
it is an n-6 fatty acid because its last double bond is
located at C14 (20 minus 6); it is an ω-6 fatty acid because if we
look at the molecule from the terminal methyl group, the first
unsaturation occurs at the sixth carbon.
March 4, 2014 - "How Academia and Publishing Are Destroying
Scientific Innovation: A Conversation with Sydney Brenner",
King's Review – Magazine. Long, but worth reading. Especially
love this bit: "And everybody works for these journals for nothing.
There’s no compensation. There’s nothing. They get everything free.
They just have to employ a lot of failed scientists, editors who are
just like the people at Homeland Security, little power grabbers in
their own sphere."
March 14, 2014 - Nature Medicine publishes an
eye-catching paper suggesting that a blood test may predict
whether a healthy person will develop symptoms of Alzheimer's
disease within two or three years with 90% accuracy. By using mass
spec-based lipidomics, the work identifies ten lipid
metabolites in plasma that distinguish healthy people from those
with signs of cognitive impairment. These are PC(36:6), PC(38:0),
PC(38:6), PC(40:1), PC(40:2), PC(40:6), PC(O-40:6), LPC(18:2) and
two acyl carnitines (AC3 and AC16:1-OH). Interesting as it may look,
the study has been strongly contested
here (the second link reproduces the first, but adds some nice
animations). Statistics say that the findings, as reported, actually
indicate that "the probability that you are ill, given that you test
positive is a mere 8%. And even for 60-year
olds and above, the value is only 32%, so two-thirds
of positive tests are still wrong."
March 25, 2014 - "Don’t
waste clean thinking on dirty enzymes" (Efraim Racker,
Spring 2014 group meeting schedule
March 26, 2014 - In JBC Papers in Press there is a
paper by the Turk group describing the role of group VIA
in the removal of oxidized fatty acyl chains from cardiolipin in
insulinoma cells. In the last paragraph of Discussion it is stated
that "this proposed role for iPLA2β
(...) represents a special case of the originally proposed function
of the enzyme in phospholipid remodeling and is consistent with the
observations that oxidation of membranes accelerates iPLA2β-catalyzed
fatty acid release from them." Coming from St. Louis, these comments
constitute an unexpected but pleasant novelty.
March 28, 2014 - Directorial Quotation #14: "Off with the old, on
with the new" (English idiom). In a coincidental but unrelated note,
elections for Rector of the University of Valladolid will be held
shortly. Fun ahead perhaps.
April 6, 2014 - Come to think about it, Sherlock Holmes' father,
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was really a smart bloke. Examples: "Once you
eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how
improbable, must be the truth”; "There is nothing as deceptive as an
obvious fact”; "The world is full of obvious things which nobody by
any chance ever observes”; "I have learned never to ridicule any
man's opinion however strange it may seem.”
April 18, 2014 - No evidence that Juvenal Urbino, MD, was ever interested in lipids
in particular, but somebody in the lipid world
did care about the whereabouts of her wife's unrequited lover. That is
why we wanted to write this here on a day like today.
April 30, 2014 - Back from the 3rd Madrid Meeting on
Dendritic Cells and Macrophages, a nice initiative that intends
to strengthen national research on macrophages and dendritic cells,
and to promote collaboration between the various research groups.
May 9, 2014 - Masters lipid biochemistry lessons early in the morning
followed by doctorate lipid droplets in the afternoon make for a
really foamy day.
May 20, 2014 - Another one million dollar lipidic question: is
palmitoleic acid (16:1n-7) pro-inflammatory,
anti-inflammatory or neither? There seems to be opinions for all
tastes, but results could be highly dependent on the species
considered. A recent
study has found a positive correlation between circulating
palmitoleic acid levels and markers of inflammation in young healthy
May 23, 2014 - Long time ago, back in '96 or '97, there was a
conversation at a
Rubio's Fish Tacos restaurant in sunny La Jolla between a group
of lipid scientists, a French guy, an Israeli guy, and a Spanish
That day, the Spanish guy confessed to his colleagues that he had the dream of seeing his beloved Real Madrid soccer team being
crowned again as Kings of Europe. Although the Spanish guy's table
companions dismissed that dream in a rather snobbish manner, truth is
that from that day until today Real Madrid have won the Champions
League not once but four times, which is more than any other team.
The last one a few hours ago.
June 2, 2014 - Tailwinds for the Eicosanoid Research Division
again. Good weather returns and a brighter horizon opens
for us for the next three years.
June 16, 2014 - "The terrible beauty of Spanish football is that
someone, somewhere, hates your guts and will always be delighted to
demonstrate this when your team comes to town" (Phil Ball, British
sports writer). Group meetings will resume in Fall.
June 21, 2014 - We would never have imagined that chorizo was so
popular in Trondheim, Norway. Phospholipase A2
is popular there too.
June 24, 2014 - Directorial Quotation #15: "Years
waiting for England to play like Spain. We finally do!" (tweeted by
a fan after England's second straight defeat in WC'14).
July 8, 2014 - We read in the newspaper
El País that the late Alfredo di Stefano, one of the best
footballers to have ever graced a soccer pitch, was quite fond of
bawdy rhymes. That is why he used to refer to former footballer and
current philosopher Jorge Valdano as Jorge Valdini, just to
avoid a rhyme that most Spanish speakers would
immediately figure out. Valdano also rhymes with "zimosano", a sui
generis translation of zymosan into Spanish that we have recently
July 23, 2014 - Here
is our 2013 CIBERDEM Annual Report, the sixth in the series. This
time a quite restrained one.
July 24, 2014 - A nice recent piece of
ERD memorabilia, with passing
resemblance to a somewhat distant past.
July 26, 2014 - We are proud to congratulate
Lucía Peña on an excellent and
successful defense of her PhD thesis yesterday. Lucía's thesis is
titled "Role of Group IVA Phospholipase A2
in Adipocyte Differentiation and High Fat-induced Obesity."
July 28, 2014 - Our dearest superiors wasting their time and,
what is worse, ours in... um... yes,
August 12, 2014 - An intriguing
report that just appeared in JLR
Papers in Press suggests that in mast cells, a major pathway for
eicosanoid synthesis involves adipose triglyceride lipase. This
enzyme acts to mobilize, directly or indirectly, arachidonic acid
stored in lipid droplets. This is visibly at odds with current
wisdom regarding phagocytic cells, where a major role for
triglycerides as precursors of free arachidonic acid has
not been found. Clearly, further exploring is warranted.
August 19, 2014 - Thanks to a recent request to review for a BMC
journal, we learned about their "re-review opt-out and painless
policy with which we wholeheartedly agree, and wish more
journals would adhere to, so as not to be exposed to
unnecessary and/or ludicrous reviews
August 20, 2014 - Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what's
in the mind of the boys of the press...
Where are you going to? Yes, I brought apples!
August 28, 2014 - Hot off the press: lipin-1 linking lipid
metabolism to TLR4 activation in macrophages, get it
September 16 2014 - "Spain, Spain, Spain, two thousand years of
history did not suffice to give you a shape" (Eugenio de Nora,
Spanish poet). Group meetings postponed til next year.
September 19, 2014 - Cardiolipin is a peculiar phospholipid that
in eukaryotic cells is only present in the inner membrane of
mitochondria. It has been
hypothesized that exposure of cardiolipin towards the cytosol
due to mitochondrial damage constitutes a danger signal that
activates the NLRP3 inflammasome. In other words, lipids acting as
endogenous pathogen-associated molecular patterns.
September 23, 2014 - Randy Schekman, Nobel Laureate in
Physiology or Medicine 2013, interviewed
by people from the University of Valencia. Highlights: "we have a
young scholar here at Berkeley who has taken a very strong position
against the «glamour journals», and he's never published in them.
And nonetheless he's had a very bright and successful career, he's
become an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. One
doesn't need to play that game in order to publish important work."
October 1, 2014 - Directorial Quotation #16: "No good deed
unpunished" (attributed to many people; also one of the Ferengi
Rules of Acquisition).
October 6, 2014 - With regard to the importance of statistics in
biomedicine, one must always keep in mind the wise words of those
who have been wise, e.g. Ernest Rutherford, Nobel Laureate in
Chemistry 1908: "If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to
have done a better experiment.”
October 14, 2014 - Everything and anything you ever wanted to
know about phospholipase A2
enzymes and lipid droplets (and probably some more), you can find it
October 27, 2014 - Asia on one side lies, Europe on the other,
and there in the front... novel lipid
mediators of innate immunity arise... in Istanbul, naturally.
October 29, 2014 - This cartoon,
which appeared recently in the newspaper El País, sums up very well
the current state of the Spanish Research Council in general, and
the IBGM in particular (an Ebola virus thanking the Spanish
government for the drastic reduction in funds for science).
November 2, 2014 - In the absence of official confirmation,
which will occur in a couple of days, it seems likely that our
highly regarded directorial quotations will continue gracing this
section for the next four years.
November 7, 2014 - Extra Directorial Quotation to commemorate
current events: "This is the way I enjoy sports: zero
uncertainty" (Abraracourcix, Gaulish chieftain).
November 18, 2014 - Back from the 50th Meeting of the Argentine
Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology held in Rosario,
Santa Fe province. Friendly country, warm people, and tons of lipids
about. Lotsa alfajores for the return too.
December 6, 2014 - Tumultuous recent days. Politics and science definitely do not mix well, and things
may get to the worst when there is people around with the
intention of messing up with everyone and everything. Luckily we
always have Bilbao and the world of lipids to end the week on a
December 12, 2014 - Directorial Quotation #18: "Down in the
alley is where I hunt, all is quiet on the eastern front" (Dee Dee
Ramone, punk rocker).
December 14, 2014 - How soon this life is past and gone, and
death comes softly stealing on; swiftly our pleasures glide away,
but, after recalled, they give us pain; how in
our opinion, any past looks as
if it was much better than the present...
December 15, 2014 - With the return of Clara and Carlos from
their extended stays in New York and
Denver respectively, and the impending homecoming of Alma, our
division will soon be firing again with all cylinders.
December 19, 2014 - More good news to end the year: the
Education Department of the Regional Government of the Basque
Country joins our list of sponsors for the next four years.
January 4, 2015 - "Science knows no country because knowledge
belongs to humanity, and is the torch that illuminates the world"
(Louis Pasteur, French scientist).
Winter 2015 group meeting schedule
January 15, 2015 - In the Oct 9 issue of Cell, Kahn and
co-workers described a new family of lipids with anti-diabetic
and anti-inflammatory effects. These lipids are branched fatty acid
esters of various hydroxy fatty acids. This exciting paper is the
have distinguished as Paper of the Year 2014.
19, 2015 - Directorial Quotation #19: "I
feel tired... so tired!" (Abraracourcix, Gaulish chieftain
and occasional philosopher).
January 27, 2015 - Group V secreted phospholipase A2
required for efficient phagocytosis by interleukin-1-treated human
macrophages, coming soon to a
library near you.
February 15, 2015 - Back from the 6th International Conference on
and Lipid Mediators, held in Tokyo,
Japan. In terms of both scientific content and social interaction,
one of the best meetings we have ever attended.
February 23, 2015 - Mead acid, 5,8,11-eicosatrienoic acid, is an
omega-9 fatty acid that, unlike most other fatty acids, receives its
name from the scientist who discovered it, James Mead. The elevated
presence of mead acid in the blood is an indication of essential
fatty acid deficiency. For quick reference,
here is our very nice fatty acid
February 27, 2015 - In a few days will be the 104th anniversary of
the birth of Jordi Folch Pi, arguably
the most prominent Spanish lipid biochemist. Folch developed a
procedure for the quantitative extraction of brain lipids using a
chloroform-methanol mixture and a phase partition with water which
resulted in quantitative extraction of tissue lipids and removal of
water-soluble contaminants. This method continues to be considered
the classic and most reliable means for quantitatively extracting
lipids from tissue samples. The paper describing the procedure,
published in JBC in 1957, ranks 9th in the list of most highly cited
research papers of all time according to Thomson-Reuters' Web of
2015 - The official 2015 Group Picture of the Eicosanoid
Research Division can be found here.
Surprisingly enough, this year everybody was around at the time of
taking the picture. There is always a first time for everything.
March 13, 2015 - Talking about
palmitoleic acid, 9-hexadecenoic acid,
16:1(n-7), here in the University. A minor fatty acid in humans,
palmitoleic acid is abundant in fish
oils such as cod liver oil, where it is frequently accompanied by
the 7- and 11-isomers. Owing to its possible anti-inflammatory
acid may be a beneficial fatty acid. Virtually nothing is known on
the physiological function of the 7- and 11-isomers. A third isomer
exists in humans, 6-hexadecenoic acid, 16:1(n-10) or sapienic acid,
which is one of the most abundant components in human sebum lipids.
Conventional wisdom tells that among hair-bearing animals, sapienic
acid is unique to humans (hence its trivial name, deriving from the
root sapiens) but we may have some doubts about that.
March 15, 2015 - This
article posted to the ASCB blog, titled "The Glaring Paradox
of Impact Versus Experience in Biology Journals", points to the
obvious. Sadly, it is still a wasted exercise, those who have the
power to make the change happen will not even listen.
March 20, 2015 - Our latest collaborative
paper with CIBERDEM researchers has just been accepted for
publication in JBC. It is work with Angela Valverde's group, from
the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid, and shows that
oleate and palmitate elicit opposite effects on insulin signaling in
hepatocytes by differentially affecting macrophage activation.
April 6, 2015 - Catchy titles for the lipid sessions of the
Annual ASBMB Meeting recently held in
Boston: "multitalented lipids", "lipids meet chemistry", "lipids
caught in action", "lipid magic: how do they do it?", "lipids, in
vivo dynamics, protein partners and signaling."
April 7, 2015 - "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to
be happy" (attributed to Benjamin Franklin, American polymath).
Spring 2015 group meeting
April 22, 2015 - Directorial Quotation #20: "As for me,
I have a cauldron to fill" (Obelix, Gaulish menhir delivery man).
April 24, 2015 - When it comes to hiring new personnel, it is
fair to acknowledge that the University of Valladolid is treating us
quite nicely in recent times.
April 29, 2015 - Two recent studies by the
labs, both published in a journal with a funny
name, demonstrate that LPCAT3 is a major controller of arachidonate
levels in phospholipid membranes. The two studies also show that
LPCAT3 is necessary for neutral lipid secretion and lipoprotein
assembly in murine hepatocytes and enterocytes. Although not mentioned in
either study, these data fully confirm our
previous work suggesting that LPCAT3
regulates the formation of arachidonate-containing phospholipid
pools in human monocytes.
May 8, 2015 - Just like there are classical and alternative
macrophages, monocytes also appear to show a remarkable plasticity,
being implicated not only as proinflammatory but also as reparative
cells. There are classical proinflammatory cells circulating in
blood and expressing high levels of CCR2 and Ly6C and low levels of
CX3CR1, and locally patrolling alternative cells
with high levels of CX3CR1 and low or absent CCR2 and Ly6C. As with the
macrophages, there is likely a
continuum of phenotypes in between these two
profiles. It should be interesting to analyze
the lipidome of these polarized monocytes.
May 22, 2015 - There blind kings fierce wars maintain for
one more palm of land, when here I hold as mine whatever the
hood embraces, to which no one imposed laws...
May 26, 2015 - "Lipids will give us answers about diabetes."
Bombastic title for an atypical kind of
interview, published in the
May 29, 2015 - We found this bit
here, and we liked it very much: "according to the
Lindley’s paradox, when a study shows a very small effect, even if
statistically significant, the results may actually favour more the
null hypothesis (that no effect exists at all), rather than the
alternative hypothesis (that some effect exists), especially if the
alternative hypothesis anticipates a substantial effect."
June 11, 2015 - CRISPR for dummies:
bacteria are far more sophisticated than anyone imagined.
Another breakthrough that was simply born from curiosity for
June 15, 2015 - "I can accept failure, everyone fails at
something, but I can't accept not trying" (Michael Jordan, American
icon). Summer 2015 group meeting
June 19, 2015 - Beautiful account of the discovery of
essential fatty acids in the January issue of the Journal of
Lipid Research: the living history of lipids.
July 14, 2015 - Mary Ann Hogson-Curley riding again, which is a
very appropriate expression given the subject matter that motivated
this entry. Not much to worry about, it is always the same old story.
July 17, 2015 - Some people may or may not agree, but for us,
learning things about the endocannabinoid
system did make for a very fun day.
July 21, 2015 - Directorial Quotation #21: "Football is like
chess, but without the dice." (Lukas Podolski, German footballer).
2015 - "Impact versus significance in scientific publishing."
This time the complaints are coming from the
European Journal of Immunology, a reputed and respectable
journal which publishes original and significant work... but which
would consistently be rejected for perceived lack of popularity by the glamour journals boasting high impact
factors. The impact factor for this
journal has recently dropped that much that it is now in the Q2 of
Immunology. That means... well, we all know what that means, don't we?
August 3, 2015 - Can specialized pro-resolving mediators (i.e.
oxidized derivatives of the long chain ω-3 fatty acids
eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic) be detected in human fluids?
Definitely one of the million dollar questions of the
August 4, 2015 - The Education Department of the Regional
Government of Castile and Leon has recognized us as a Consolidated
Research Unit. Whatever this distinction exactly means we do not
know, but in principle it would have to be taken into
account when allocating resources from various European funds under
the next Operational Program running until 2020. Let's wait and
August 25, 2015 - For the past two days our website was
hacked and converted into a fake PayPal page. Fortunately, the
problem was swiftly fixed and now everything works smooth again.
August 26, 2015 - Hitting the
bull's eye: "Public Library of Science (PLoS)
appears to be just like the proliferating 'not-for-profit'
hospitals, motorists’ associations, charities, etc., that serve
mainly to provide lucrative employment to innumerable people doing
things that don’t particularly need to be done."
September 14, 2015 - Albert Einstein is generally quoted as
saying: "Only two things are infinite: the universe and human
stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former." Today we
have attended a magistral demonstration of infinite human stupidity by some pretentious big fish from the Faculty of Sciences of this
September 18, 2015 - Having gotten over the hump of final
oral presentations for BS and MS degrees, it
is time for relax and celebration, and
also for laughing at these petty things that occurred up along the
September 22, 2015 - “Publish quickly with any new inhibitor
because its specificity decreases rapidly with time.” (Efraim Racker,
Austrian-American biochemist). Fall 2015 group meeting
September 24, 2015 - What drives these troubled young men? How
do otherwise unremarkable guys fall, slowly but steadily,
into self-destructing behavior?
September 26, 2015 - The three great distinctive advantages of Google
Scholar over giants Scopus and Web of Science: (i)
Google Scholar is free. (ii) Google Scholar is free, (iii)
Google Scholar is free. Additional advantages: Google
Scholar (i) is updated way more often, (ii) is not biased towards
publications in English, and (iii) has a much wider coverage. The
latter has also been seen as a weakness, as Google
Scholar indexes almost everything that its engines come up with.
However, when citation metrics is not an issue, and it is not most
of the times,
Google Scholar is by far the way to go.
October 1, 2015 - Spanish Biochemical Society's "Get Closer to
Our Scientists" part deux here:
lipins, lipid metabolism and disease (part one was
October 7, 2015 - After learning
the value of hard work by working hard, it only takes a little
something extra to realize that the only difference between the
ordinary and the extraordinary is the extra
October 8, 2015 - Directorial Quotation #22: "Most people do not
listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to
reply." (Stephen Covey, American businessman).
October 18, 2015 - Twenty-five years ago today, a still naive
young graduate student defended his PhD dissertation. Twenty-five
years is long enough for many stories to be told and radical changes
to recall, and no, we are not talking about changes in physical
October 21, 2015 - Social Councils as consultative bodies of
universities that may or may not make decisions on academic and
economic affairs. What are they good for? Time will tell... or not.
October 26, 2015 -
is our 2014 CIBERDEM Annual Report, the seventh in the series. This
year we finally got it right about space constraints.
November 11, 2015 - We learned from the Nov issue of ASBMB Today
of the decease of John A. Glomset. An HHMI investigator and NAS member, Glomset is recognized for his
discoveries of the enzyme lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT),
platelet-derived growth factor, and the covalent modification of
proteins by prenylation. Later in his career he became interested on
why mammalian cells make so many different phospholipid molecules,
varying in headgroups and fatty acyl chains in such a fascinating
variety of combinations, and purified and cloned a most intriguing
phosphatidic acid-preferring phospholipase A1.
November 12, 2015 -
that success stems from persistence, effort and, above all, desire
to succeed. But when it comes to success, there is always the chance
to turn the cards on, because what matters in the end is the
value of things, not the things that have pat-on-the-back value. Which leads us to
the key question: is success
the key to happiness or is it the other way around?
November 23, 2015 - In the same vein as Newton's "standing on
the shoulders of giants" or Pasteur's "science as a patrimony of
humanity", mathematician Alan Turing contended that "the isolated
man does not develop any intellectual power. It is necessary for him
to be immersed in an environment of other men, whose techniques he
absorbs. He may then make a very few discoveries which are passed on to other men. From
this point of view the search for knowledge must be regarded as
carried out by the human community as a whole, rather than by
individuals.” This said, it is a waste that some human communities
have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to make outstanding
contributions to scientific progress, but they do not because they
are denied the means.
November 26, 2015 - On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of
Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, Jürgen Renn, director of
the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science writes in the
El Mundo that Einstein's achievements epitomize the value of basic science as a
cultural project to understand the world, not just as knowledge for
technological development. Would the science policy makers of this
and other countries please listen?
November 27, 2015 - The three golden rules to publish an
outstanding paper according to JBC: (i) ask an important question,
(ii) work with smart people, and (iii) choose a productive
December 1, 2015 - An old woman and an old man are going to
Albacete, and halfway he sticks
his hand into the pocket and reaches for a ticket...
December 3, 2015 - Many things in life have their abc's, group
IV phospholipase A2
for example. The Spanish National Research Council's ruling guys
have decided that our institution also has to have its own a's, and b's, and c's,
but the way they wanted to implement the scores is awkward, to say the least. No matter what they say, apples
are apples, and oranges are oranges.
December 13, 2015 - Dozens of storks
perched on the roofs of the Health Sciences Building of the School
of Medicine. The University Hospital is just across the
street, so who knows whether the storks are resting up there after
delivering the babies.
December 18, 2015 - When you thought you had seen almost
everything about bizarre behavior in research, there
goes the all-time freakiest show on Earth in the form of doctoral
December 22, 2015 - The
future is decided in the laboratory: four researchers from the
IBGM highlight the role of scientific research in social
January 11, 2016 - "No me moleste mosquito, just let me eat my
burrito; no me moleste mosquito, why don't you go home?" (Krieger,
Densmore & Manzarek keeping it psychedelic).
Winter 2016 group meeting schedule
January 13, 2016 - In the May 29 issue of FASEB Journal,
Maridonneau-Parini and colleagues reported on the cellular and
molecular components of the resolution phase of microbe (zymosan)
and non-microbe (thioglycollate) induced inflammation, with emphasis
on eicosanoid and docosanoid production. Their results provide elegant
demonstration that resolution of inflammation may be shaped in a
stimulus-specific manner, and that the tissues surrounding the
inflammatory site may also contribute to the process. This is the
article we have selected as Paper of the
January 15, 2016 - May you grow up to be a scientist, may you
grow up to be a big one. May you always know the bioscience, and see the
experiments surrounding you... Senior high
school students visiting the
IBGM (some help from Bob Dylan in preparing this entry greatly
January 25, 2016 - Remembering those ole college days; take
advantage of the
Wittig reaction to make dirt cheap monounsaturated fatty acids.
February 1, 2016 - Sometime ago the Lipid Library ceased to host
a very entertaining and educational lipid blog. No intention of
commenting on sensitive matters here, but it looks as though there
was some kind of acrimonious split, and the blog is now located at a
new website called
Good to have it back on-line.
February 2, 2016 - After much searching, we finally came out
with the trivial name for cis-7-hexadecenoic acid (16:1n-9). Well,
not exactly for that one, but for its trans isomer, which is listed
as hypogeic acid in the
LIPID MAPS database. Thus in complete analogy with vaccenic acid
(a trans fatty acid) and its cis isomer, called cis-vaccenic acid,
it may seem wise to refer to cis-7-hexadecenoic acid as cis-hypogeic
acid from now on. By the way, here
is the latest version of our very nice fatty acid list.
February 3, 2016 - Directorial Quotation #23: "Spain is the only
country in the world where two times two does not make four."
(Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, British soldier).
February 10, 2016 - Extra Directorial Quotation: "In like a
lion, out like a lamb" (English proverb, one month earlier yet so
fitting for today).
February 12, 2016 - Determination, clear objectives and
attention to detail, not numbers, is that which matters for a group
of people to make the difference... or not? The 2016
Eicosanoid Research Division Group Picture
February 27, 2016 -
Impact factor mania, a variation of the economic theory known as
the “tragedy of the commons,” in which scientists act rationally in
their own self-interests despite the detrimental consequences of
their actions on the overall scientific enterprise.
March 2, 2016 - In anticipation of important events that will be
upon us shortly, we bring here a sentence that always takes us back
to past times with good company. The sentence closes the foreword to
vol. 14 of Contemporary Topics in Immunobiology, and is authored by
Lewis Thomas, at the time Chancellor of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering
Cancer Center in New York City: "If you are interested in how cells
work qua cells, in how extraordinarily intelligent a single
cell can be, and how marvelous, nothing in the world is as
engrossing as a leukocyte."
March 10, 2016 - In recent weeks the number of search engines
crawling over our site has increased so much that we have started to
experience some serious bandwith problems. Until we put into effect
a satisfactory solution, the site may have to shut down from time to
March 13, 2016 - As our acting Prime Minister would say, we'll
explain it and you'll sshee that you undersshtand: "the
greatest discoveries in the history of science were not made by
scientists trying to solve a problem. What motivated them was sheer
curiosity." Daniel Zajfman, president of the Weizmann Institute
talking to the Spanish
media (use a language translator, the hassle is worthwhile).
March 18, 2016 - Congratulations to
Carlos Guijas for an impeccable
doctoral dissertation defense, titled "Regulation of Lipid Droplet
Formation by Arachidonic Acid in Human Monocytes: Importance of the
Fatty Acid 16:1n-9." Well earned. Well done. Well deserved. Well
March 19, 2016 - Despite the red badges, not a workers trade
union meeting, just the dissertation committee
members for yesterday's defense.
March 28, 2016 - “The ball is an essential part of the game. If
you have the ball, the opponent does not have it." (Johan Cruyff,
Dutch footballer, second to none).
Spring 2016 group meeting schedule
March 31, 2016 - A solution was finally found to the bandwith
problems that plagued our site lately. Let's see how long it lasts.
April 2, 2016 - What are the best universities in
Spain? The newspaper El Mundo publishes
a list of Spanish universities ranked according to teaching
quality, research excellence, and innovation and technological
development. The University of Valladolid
ties with 8 others for the 38th place out of 61 universities listed.
April 8, 2016 - Homeostasis is, according to the Merriam Webster
dictionary, a relatively stable state of equilibrium or a tendency
toward such a state between the different but interdependent
elements or groups of elements of an organism, population, or group.
Fits with arachidonic acid and its unstimulated circumstance.
April 13, 2016 - The newspaper El País publishes an
article of opinion authored by our old friend and colleague Ismael Mingarro, titled "The end of the middle class, also in
science" (original article in Spanish, use the translator).
Resorting to the commonplace, it can be said louder but not clearer.
April 15, 2016 - You've got to explore all possibilities and
opportunities that come your way. You know, there in the very
place where you are least expecting it, jumps the hare, and you take
home the gold medal. When that happens, seize the day and don't
worry if the gold medal is actually gold plated. The first is always
April 18, 2016 - Extra virgin olive oil is the unrefined oil
derived from the first pressing of the olives and has the most
exquisite flavor. Here is our own
analysis of a sample of extra virgin olive oil, Picual cultivar. We
may have done this just for fun... or maybe not.
April 25, 2016 - Charles Gerhardt, Felix Hoffmann, Bernardo
Houssay, and Miguel de Unamuno being mentioned in a newspaper
article about the IBGM makes us
feel important somehow.
April 28, 2016 - cis-7-Hexadecenoic acid, an unusual
isomer of palmitoleic acid with marked anti-inflammatory activity,
coming soon to your local library! P.S. We seem to be good at
finding unusual fatty acids.
May 5, 2016 - Beautiful
account of the history of arachidonic acid in the Journal of
Lipid Research. Impressive fact: the
correct structure of the fatty acid was first published in 1940 by
Ida Smedley-Maclean and co-workers while German bombs were ravaging London during World War II.
May 24, 2016 - Back from the 7th International Conference on
and Lipid Mediators held in our second home, sunny
La Jolla. Great to meet so many
companions from the big old days, and to learn that they are all
doing very well; David, Ray, Wenhong, Yasu, Suzanne, Tina, Michelle,
Lisa, Leigh... plus many others from different periods of the Dennis
lab, older and younger, that we met for the first time. Uncle Paul was also around. Conference
group photo here.
May 27, 2016 - Studies on the involvement of cytosolic group IVA
in adipocyte differentiation and obesity coming soon to your
favorite eicosanoid research library!
May 31, 2016 - These lyrics, taken from an old song by rock and
roll legends Leño, remind us so much of those glamour research
centers built in Madrid that, in truth, amount to no more than a big
fatuous demonstration of sheer opportunism: "uncontrolled times have
come, let's take advantage of them before they're gone; give one and
take ten, it is a bargain..."
June 15, 2016 - "Choose a job you love, and you will never have
to work a day in your life” (Confucius, Chinese philosopher).
Summer 2016 group meeting schedule
June 17, 2016 - No more sitting by the sideline afraid of
getting it wrong; if you wait, the only thing that happens is that
you get older. The E2 section of the Eicosanoid Research Division
here (sans Javi, there is always
June 23, 2016 - Directorial Quotation #25: "When a fool
walks along a road and the road ends, the fool keeps on walking” (Juan
Spanish political scientist).
June 24, 2016 - Our recent paper in Cell Chemical Biology
dealing with cis-7-hexadecenoic acid is highlighted by the Editors
in the section
In This Issue and discussed in detail in
Previews. Ah, and the paper is also selected as a Free Feature
Article and can be
accessed directly from the journal's home page. The journey seems to
June 29, 2016 - Motivation is what gets you started, habit is
what keeps you going, and the eight installment of our CIBERDEM story can
be found here.
July 6, 2016 - You may call him Bobby, you may call him Zimmy,
you may call him as you wish, but it is fair to acknowledge that the
University of Valladolid is treating us quite well in recent times.
July 9, 2016 - As is the case every time we visit Bilbao, great
lipidomic times and so much else.
Plus, it did not rain.
July 11, 2016 -
Congratulations to Gema Lordén for
an outstanding and highly successful defense of her PhD thesis,
titled "Regulation of NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation by Lipin-2 in
July 12, 2016 - Directorial Quotation #26: "The worst part of
ingratitude is that it always wants to be right" (Jacinto Benavente,
Spanish playwright, Nobel Laureate in Literature 1922).
July 13, 2016 - Another DQ for free: "I have seen many priests
in their preaching despise money and its temptations, but in the
end, when they smell that a rich man is about to die and hear his
money starting to tinkle, for who has to take it they begin to
quarrel" (Juan Ruiz, Archpriest of Hita, medieval Castilian poet).
August 10, 2016 - Is it possible to get everything done on time
without ever being in a hurry? Success or failure is ultimately your
own responsibility, so make the necessary adjustments to what you do
or how you do it, and do not shy away from advice. Giving up is not
August 24, 2016 - Click chemistry strategies using alkyne
analogues of fatty acids has proven to be useful to identify
cellular components that physically interact with such fatty acids.
However, whether cells use these synthetic fatty acids in the same
manner as their naturally occurring counterparts remains to be fully
established. In this regard,
recent data suggest that caution should be exercised when using
arachidonic acid as a surrogate for the study of cellular
arachidonic acid metabolism.
August 30, 2016 - Lipid signaling, enzymes and mediators of
inflammation, an emotional
journey through forty-plus years of phospholipase A2
research: Ed Dennis'
Reflections article in JBC.
September 9, 2016 - The LipidWeb blog mentions our recent Cell Chem. Biol. paper on
cis-7-hexadecenoic acid, a fatty acid "that is often ignored,
overlooked or misidentified by analysts." It can't be said better.
September 13, 2016 - "You could sequence 150,000 people with
cancer and it's not going to cure anyone. The solution is good
chemistry. We have a world of cancer biologists trained to think
genes, but they don't think chemistry at all." (James Watson,
American biochemist, Nobel
Laureate in Physiology or Medicine 1962). Fall 2016 group meeting schedule
September 16, 2016 - After overcoming that final hurdle called
oral defense, all that remains
is to take a deep sigh of relief before joy and celebration.
September 17, 2016 - A fine end to an enjoyable JLR
minireview by Robin Irvine on the history of inositol lipids: "... if
there is one lesson for us all, it is that almost all of the
discoveries described above were made with no clear aim or practical
endpoint other than the uncovering of knowledge. How many of the
studies described above would be funded now? No matter how many
times we tell those who try to direct science that much of it cannot
be directed, they don’t seem to listen."
September 29, 2016 - Once more aided by friendly winds, the
eicosanoid ship cruises through brave waters on its course to novel
lipids, lipases and signaling pathways. Love it when our hard-fought
grant money comes along.
October 4, 2016 - Directorial Quotation #27: "The only truth is
psychological warfare" (Monosabius,
October 13, 2016 - While this blog is primarily concerned with
scientific stuff, much of its content is genuinely inspired by the
spirit of rock and roll. Bob Dylan in particular is a big influence.
And, since we do not work on molecular machines or autophagy, all
our congratulations to Bob Dylan on
winning the Nobel Prize in Literature 2016.
October 14, 2016 - When you only have a few bullets, wasting
them shooting at ghosts does not look like a wise thing to do. Oddly
enough, not many people in the neighborhood realize this.
November 4, 2016 - Back from Brazil, where we visited the
University of Sao Paulo at Ribeirão Preto,
and attended the Brazilian Society of Immunology meeting, held at
Campos do Jordão. A lot of moments to
cherish and remember.
November 11, 2016 - Just within a matter of weeks, two of our
brightest students, Gema Lordén and Carlos Guijas, have left the
eicosanoid building. Coincidentally, both have taken the very wise
decision to move to La Jolla for postdoctoral training. We wish them
November 12, 2016 - Yet another name change for the Ministry we
depend on. This time a minor change, but a change after all:
Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Competitiveness. The best part is
the acronym: MEICOMP. MINECO sounded funny, but the new one tops the
November 17, 2016 - A key role for lipin-2 in regulating
production via activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, coming soon to
your favorite eicosanoid library!
November 23, 2016 - Directorial Quotation #28: "There is a crack
in everything, that's how the light gets in" (Leonard Cohen,
Canadian poet and songwriter).
November 24, 2016 - Random thoughts about selfies and French
authors. Self-criticism is not motivational; self-compassion is, for
self-compassion helps develop emotional resilience. A little self-doubt
is normal and sometimes desirable to avoid self-confidence but, as
André Maurois noted, nothing is so discouraging to subordinates as a
chief who hesitates. Firmness, said Napoleon Bonaparte, prevails in
December 1, 2016 - Titanium disks, calcium phosphate, wound
healings, the sound they make is not muzak to our ears. We must have
learned something in all those years.
December 12, 2016 - An old saying that seems quite appropriate
for a day like today: better to remain silent and be thought a fool
than to speak and to remove all doubt. On a separate but related
note, Charles Barkley, always an endless
fount of wisdom,
said once that he always laughed when people asked him about
rebounding techniques: "I've got a technique. It's called just go
get the damn ball." Not so nice to know there are no charlesbarkleys
December 16, 2016 - A few years ago,
Brown and Murphy suggested that the difficulties in reproducing
quantitative lipidomic data could be indicative that the population
of lipids within cells is very dynamic, and that cells can sustain
critical reactions with many different lipid compositions rather
than a single composition. If we speculate a bit further, maybe it
is that when the different lipid classes and subclasses interact to
form a biological membrane, not all concentrations of each species
are possible or permitted. Quantum states of the lipid matter?
Quantum lipidomics has a nice ring to it.
December 17, 2016 - Faithful to their annual rendezvous with the
School of Medicine, storks start to
gather in increasingly large numbers on the roofs of tall buildings
around our beloved institute. Time for us to update a few reports,
and grant support