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Biomedicine international training research programme for excellent clinician-scientists
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A new generation of clinician-scientists

BITRECS will support seven outstanding post-doctoral clinician-scientists with the implementation of their 36-months research projects and will provide them with high-level professional training to become future leaders in their areas of expertise.

Get to know who they are and what their research is about.


  • Marco Antonio Alba joined the research group 'Systemic vasculitis', directed by María Cinta Cid; he will carry out his project entirely at IDIBAPS (incoming mobility scheme).
  • Helena Ariño joined the research group 'Pathogenesis of autoimmune neuronal diseases', led by Josep Dalmau; she will develop part of her project at King's College London (UK) and part at IDIBAPS (outgoing mobility scheme).
  • Lorna Leal joined the research group 'AIDS and HIV infection', led by Felipe García, part of her project will be carried out at IDIBAPS and part in  the United Kingdom and in South Africa (outgoing mobility scheme).
  • Gianluigi Li Bassi joined the "Applied research in infectious respiratory diseases', led by Antoni Torres; part of the project will be carried out in Australia and part at IDIBAPS (outgoing mobility scheme).
  • Luis Gerardo Rodríguez joined the research group 'Mechanisms of progression in monoclonal gammopathies', directed by Carlos Fernández de Larrea, part of his project will be carried out in Germany and part at IDIBAPS (outgoing mobility scheme).
  • Isabel Valli joined the research group 'Multimodal neuroimaging in high risk and early psychosis', led by Gisela Sugranyes, with the incoming mobility scheme: she will carry out her project entirely at IDIBAPS.
  • Norma Verdolini joined the research group 'Bipolar and depressive disorders', directed by Eduard Vieta, with the incoming mobility scheme: she will carry out her project entirely at IDIBAPS.

Marco Antonio Alba

IDIBAPS research line: Biological aggression and response mechanisms - Dr. María Cinta Cid

Mobility scheme: incoming at IDIBAPS


Marco Antonio Alba received his MD from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (1998) and then completed internal medicine residency training at the CMN Siglo XXI (2009) followed by a clinical/research fellowship and a master’s degree in systemic autoimmune diseases in the Universidad de Barcelona (2010). Dr Alba obtained the degree of Doctor in Medicine by the Universidad de Barcelona (2014). From 2016-2019 he joined the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA) as a postdoctoral research fellow. Dr. Alba´s main focus of interest is on systemic vasculitides. His research activity is directed at understanding the causes, and improving the classification, diagnosis and treatment of patients with ANCA vasculitis and giant cell arteritis, by using clinical data, in vitro assays, animal models, and human specimens. He has published over 45 journal articles and over 10 book chapters.

Project title: Development of a 3D model of granulomatous vasculitis: a research tool for investigating immunopathogenic mechanisms of granulomatosis with polyangiitis.

Research Abstract                IDIBAPS profile

Helena Ariño

IDIBAPS research line: Clinical and experimental neuroscience - Dr. Josep Dalmau

Mobility scheme: outgoing at King's College London (UK) and at IDIBAPS


Helena Ariño is a neurologist with a special interest in autoimmune disorders affecting the central nervous system. She graduated in Medicine from the Complutense University of Madrid in 2008, and trained as a neurologist in Barcelona, at the Hospital Clinic. She developed a strong interest in research in the expanding field of autoimmune neurology, and her thesis about GAD antibody-associated neurologic disorders supervised by Dr. Francesc Graus was honored with Excellent "Cum Laude". Under the research training program Río Hortega she has been integrated in the Neuroimmunology Unit in the Hospital Clinic and her research has contributed to better characterize some antibody-mediated encephalitides discovered in the last decade by Dr. Josep Dalmau both from a clinical and immunological perspective (in particular, encephalitis associated with anti-NMDAR, anti-LGI1 or anti-DPPX antibodies). She is committed to improving diagnosis with autoimmune encephalitis, where early detection prevents poor clinical outcomes, and understanding its etiopathogenesis. She is especially interested in harnessing the potential of biomedical informatics for this purpose.
Project title: Phenotyping encephalitis through electronic health records (EHR): a computational approach.
Research Abstract               RESULTS               IDIBAPS profile

Lorna Leal

IDIBAPS research line: Biological aggression and response mechanisms - Dr. Felipe García

Mobility scheme: outgoing at University College London (UK), MRC/Wits Agincourt (South Africa) and at IDIBAPS


Lorna Leal is an HIV clinician with a special interest in therapeutic and preventive vaccines. Since 2013 she has been focused in developing and testing novel mRNA-based vaccines and participating as the leading clinician of national and international therapeutic HIV vaccine clinical trials within one of the most important research groups in Europe. Also in the HIV field, Lorna has been collaborating with different NGOs since 2008. She believes that her experience working with high-risk and vulnerable groups has taught her the prioritization of tasks and has improved her ability to select the most crucial ones. For the last 10 years she also has been working as an emergency care specialist at Hospital Clinic of Barcelona. Other special interest is teaching, as an Associate Professor of the University of Barcelona she has had the opportunity to participate in the training of medical students both undergraduate and postgraduate.

Lorna Leal ended her BITRECS fellowship on September 2021.

Project title: Preparedness for the implementation of preventive and therapeutic vaccine clinical trials: from a specialized immunology laboratory to the planning of clinical trial structures in Africa.

Research Abstract               RESULTS               IDIBAPS Profile

Gianluigi Li Bassi

IDIBAPS research line: Respiratory, cardiovascular and renal pathobiology and bioengineering - Dr. Antoni Torres

Mobility scheme: outgoing at The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane (Australia) and at IDIBAPS


A/Prof G. Li Bassi is a clinician-scientist currently working at the Critical Care Research Group, The Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, Australia. A/Prof Li Bassi has been trained to become a world-renowned researcher, mentored by some of the most distinguished innovators in the field of critical care medicine, at the University of Milan, Italy and the National Institutes of Health, USA, where he was granted the NIH fellowship award for research excellence. Since receiving his PhD in Pulmonary Infectious Diseases, at the University of Barcelona, Spain, he directed a laboratory at the Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Hospital Clinic, led by Prof. A. Torres. In these proficient years, he received various awards by Medical Societies and gained more than 2.4 million Euro in research funds by industry and government. Throughout his career, he authored more than 150 scientific publications and trained more than 60 international research fellows. A/Prof Li Bassi recently co-developed the global COVID-19 Critical Care Consortium to characterize critically ill COVID-19 patients and apply next-generation machine learning to improve outcomes.

Gianluigi Li Bassi ended his BITRECS fellowship on January 2021.

Project title: The Covid-19 Critical Care Consortium Observational Study and New frontiers in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome from Translational Pre-clinical Studies

Research Abstract                RESULTS              IDIBAPS Profile

Luis Gerardo Rodriguez

IDIBAPS research line: Oncology and haematology - Dr. Carlos Fernández De Larrea

Mobility scheme: outgoing at Würzburg University (Germany) and at IDIBAPS


Luis Gerardo Rodríguez is a physician-scientist specialized in Hematology. He completed his clinical training at Hospital Clínic of Barcelona. He has a Master’s in Hematopoietic Transplantation from the University of Valencia and a PhD in Monoclonal Gammopathies from the University of Barcelona. Currently, He has obtained the distinction to join the BITRECS program to carry out his post-doctoral studies in chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell in multiple myeloma at the University of Würzburg in Germany and IDIBAPS in Spain. He has skills and experience in clinical research, mainly in monoclonal gammopathies and stem cell transplantation and also in advanced statistics. He has given regular oral and poster presentations at national and international meetings.

Luis Gerardo Rodríguez ended his BITRECS fellowship on December 2021.

Project title: BCMA and SLAMF3 (CD229) chimeric antigen receptor T-cell immunotherapy in multiple myeloma.

Research Abstract               RESULTS               IDIBAPS Profile

Isabel Valli

IDIBAPS research line: Clinical and experimental neuroscience - Dr. Gisela Sugranyes

Mobility scheme: incoming at IDIBAPS


Dr. Isabel Valli holds a degree in Medicine and Surgery from the Universitá degli Studi di Milano (Italy) and a specialist diploma in Psychiatry from the same university. In 2007, she was awarded a Medical Research Council clinical training fellowship. The work produced during this 3-year fellowship was submitted as a PhD, which she was awarded in 2011 by King’s College London (UK). Dr. Valli was subsequently appointed to a National Institute of Health clinical lectureship at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London (UK). During this 3-year appointment, she completed the UK higher training in psychiatry, was a lecturer at King’s College London (UK), was module leader in the Masters program in Early Intervention in Psychosis at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, and was awarded the Dennis Hill Prize. Dr. Valli was then appointed to a consultant psychiatrist position in early intervention in psychosis. She has published extensively in high impact journals on the brain imaging correlates of early psychosis and has regularly presented her work at international conferences.

Project title: Neurodevelopmental influences in youth at high risk for psychosis: a multimodal diagnostic and prognostic model integrating genetic, environmental and neuroimaging data.

Research Abstract               RESULTS               IDIBAPS Profile

Norma Verdolini

IDIBAPS research line: Clinical and experimental neuroscience - Dr. Eduard Vieta

Mobility scheme: incoming at IDIBAPS


Dr. Norma Verdolini is a psychiatrist with a special interest in affective disorders. She graduated in Medicine in 2011 from the University of Perugia (Italy) and performed her clinical residency training in Psychiatry at the same institution. In 2014, she became a fellow of the South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with the University of Cambridge (UK). After completing her clinical residency training (2016), she became clinical psychiatric director at the ‘Complesso residenziale Torre Certalda’, worked as clinical investigator at the ‘Instituto Serafico in Assisi’ (Italy), performed freelance clinical activity in Italy, while working on the articles for the PhD. Since January 2018, she received a “Río Hortega” contract (CM17/00258) by the “Instituto de Salud Carlos III” at FIDMAG (Spain) to study the neurobiological basis of bipolar disorder. In November 2018 she defended her PhD thesis entitled “SELF- AND HETERO-AGGRESSION: Clinical Implications in Bipolar Disorder and Mixed States” at the University of Barcelona and was honored with Excellent "Cum Laude". She received the award for the best doctoral thesis for the 2018-2019 academic year by the Spanish Society of Biological Psychiatry (SEPB) and the Extraordinary Doctorate Award by the University of Barcelona. She also holds the report for tenure-track lecturer in Catalonia and trained students at the various institutions. Throughout her career, she authored more than 50 scientific publications and over 10 book chapters. She is committed to improve the early diagnosis in bipolar disorder and identifying the prodromes of the disorder. Her aim is to help enhancing prognosis and psychosocial functioning of the patients.

Project title: Prodromes and predictors of bipolar disorder: a longitudinal evaluation of patients presenting a first manic episode

Research Abstract               RESULTS               IDIBAPS Profile

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