David Llobet has just joined IDIBELL as principal investigator with a Miguel Servet grant within the gynecological cancer research group. Could you tell us about your career up to this point?
I got my BSc in Biology in 2003. My dream was to devote myself to animal physiology, but I dismissed that just after the first year of my degree. My zoology teacher made animal physiology boring, but I ended up finding a certain charm in molecular and cellular biology as tools to study diseases.
I have never been an honor student, the truth is that I was probably not even brilliant, but I have always thought that motivation and effort should prevail over grades - perhaps because that is what worked for me, I imagine! - The proof is that due to my grades I could not carry out my PhD thesis at UAB, but I am thankful for that, because it led me to Lleida - yes, Lleida... - and the Oncology Pathology group, with Xavier Matias-Guiu and Xavier Dolcet. Lleida may not have the size and critical mass of Barcelona but in some respects it is better. If you want to know in which ones, go! It went pretty well for me...
From Lleida I went to the Burnham Institute for Biomedical Research in La Jolla, from there I did a postdoc stay in New York (Columbia University and Mount Sinai) and finally I got my first PI position in Newcastle, which would be a Lleida-style city but full of Brits, and without fog. There, I was able to pick up some abandoned endometrial cancer research lines while I finished the last bits of the breast cancer projects I had worked on during my postdoc stage.
And finally, after just over two years, I have come to IDIBELL thanks to a a Miguel Servet grant.
What are your motivations to join IDIBELL, then?
Here I hope to be able to give continuity to some research lines and gain more visibility. There is possibly no better place to keep working in endometrial cancer, although in out group we do not only do this... On the other hand, after spending almost ten years away, I already wanted to go home.
What are the main challenges of the IDIBELL gynecological cancer research group - led by Dr. Matias-Guiu, with whom you have already shared a lab - at this time?
First of all, finding the way to implement, for the first time, a personalized therapy in this field. So far, all the research that carried out in the field of endometrial cancer has had a very limited impact in terms of improving the treatment of these patients. I believe that IDIBELL has the necessary tools and actors to be able to lay the first stone and, from there, generate knowledge that reverts to health.
What do you think your contribution can be in this regard?
This is very difficult to answer, since it involves making predictions. I guess my contributions will show over the years. At the moment we are here to work, which is the first step to be able to move forward.