Raül Delgado-Morales holds a PhD in neurosciences from UAB, and has spent the last 15 years in several laboratories studying molecular processes associated with learning and memory, as well as its alteration in cognitive disorders. He has worked, mainly, in the field of depression, Alzheimer's and Rett syndrome. He joined IDIBELL’s Epigenetics and Cancer Biology program in January 2015, after 4 years of as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany. Since this March, he is the new Deputy Director of IDIBELL’s Scientific Area.
You have just taken a career step outside the laboratory. What are your motivations for this switch to research management?
To me, there are many ways to contribute to science, either from the laboratory or from an office. In fact, throughout my scientific career I have been involved in management, dissemination and scientific policy activities. My main motivation is to help develop IDIBELL’s scientific model, helping our researchers to have at their disposal the best environment to carry out their jobs, so that it has a major impact in our society. In addition, the characteristics of our campus, with two hospitals, a university and a research institute, constitute a unique opportunity to learn from the needs of various scientific actors, thus improve their interrelation.
What are the main challenges of IDIBELL’s Scientific Area at the moment?
IDIBELL is a young institute with much room for improvement. Despite the excellent work done so far, and having a great team within the management and scientific areas, we must continue to improve to be even more competitive.
Among the greatest challenges, from my point of view, there is the improvement of IDIBELL infrastructures; creating better common services available to researchers. Another very important challenge is to improve our staff training program, both for researchers and technicians. Although a large number of courses and training activities have already been set in motion, we must consolidate them and produce a broad and transversal offer. Last but not least, one of the great challenges of the Scientific area is to overcome the Gran Via in the emotional and logistical sense, that is, combining the excellent clinical research of HUB with the excellent basic research of the IDIBELL, in such a way that we can benefit from the great translational potential of our campus. This last point is even more relevant after CMR[B] joined us, positioning the campus as one of the national centers of excellence in basic, clinical and translational research.
And on a personal level, how do you think you can contribute?
First of all, I aim to join forces with a team of people who are already doing a great job in the scientific and management areas. Having said that, I would like my work to have a positive impact on the researchers’ daily life at IDIBELL. I think I can really help when it comes to structuring training plans and seminars, as I already have experience, and in general to help increase a feeling of belonging to IDIBELL that allows us to work more and better as a team, collaborating in a more productive way. These will undoubtedly be my biggest personal challenge.
In addition to the IDIBELL, you are also joining the board of the Catalan Society of Biology. Do you think this fact can foster synergies between both institutions?
The IDIBELL has a very good scientific communication team and a broad and long relationship with the SCB; in fact, Dr. Capellá and Dr. Rigau have already devoted many years to the SCB. I hope that my incorporation will help to consolidate all these synergies, making the most of ideas and events, so that we help benefit our scientific community and that of our country. One of my great passions, aside from my daughter, is the popularization of science and the using science in our society as a mechanism for the construction of a knowledge-based economy.
What other fields or topics would you like to have an influence on from your new position?
For a long time there have been so-called "soft skills", which currently are no longer so "soft". Scientific dissemination, for example, is currently highly valued in grants such as the Marie Curie, where up to 30% of the evaluation depends on a plan to disseminate your research and meetings. In addition to that, engagement directly affects your career, broadeniing your "networking" range and professional options.
In a career path where very few people can end up becoming consolidated group leaders, having other professional alternatives for scientists is essential. So I would like to encourage, especially among young people, their communication skills through blogs (such as the Divulcat portal, a scientific dissemination project in Catalan of the Catalan Encyclopedia, in which I have the pleasure of contributing through an outreach blog), social networks, associations or outreach events.