Martínez Pacheco

“Paraphrasing Star Wars: when science calls, the chosen have no choice”.

When I was eight years old, I made the decision I wanted to become an astrophysicist. I was fascinated by all the massive celestial objects and how little we know about what is out there. I stood firm with my idea until I discovered another vast universe content in the smallest unit of life: the cell. This universe captivated and enchanted me, for I had found something as diverse, dynamic, and complex as the immense universe in the simplest building block of life. Thus, I decided to study Biotechnology at Miguel Hernandez University in Elche, where I was born.

During my BSc, I was offered a six-month research scholarship at the Basic Diabetes Research Unit. In doing so, I was able to develop my BSc Project, which focused on the study of the role of estrogenic signalling in the preservation of the pancreatic β cells, as well as other harmful stimuli that impair their viability and insulin secretion. After completing my undergraduate degree, I moved to pursue an MSc in Biomedical Biotechnology at the Valencia Polytechnic University. I was awarded an Erasmus + grant to develop my MSc thesis in an international group, getting the opportunity to be part of the Blood-Brain Barrier group at The Open University, United Kingdom, under the supervision of Dr Ignacio Romero. Here, I became aware of a parallel universe within the cells: extracellular vesicles (EVs). In the early days of the field, EVs were just considered “garbage bins», studied by only a few. Nowadays, EVs have evolved to be a hot topic in targeted therapy, drug delivery, and their use as biomarkers.

EVs aroused my curiosity, and it became my focus to delve into this field of research. I am very grateful that my Ph.D. was part of the TRAIN-EV Consortium, and as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie ESR based at Trinity College in Dublin, I performed my project under the supervision of Professor Lorraine O’Driscoll. Since 2019, my project focused on understanding the transmission of resistance to anti-cancer drugs from cell to cell in HER2-positive breast cancer. Previously, O’Driscoll’s group has demonstrated that EVs are involved in transmitting resistance, causing previously drug-sensitive cells to become drug-resistant. My project aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of the neratinib-resistance mechanism(s) in HER2-positive breast cancer, as well as further understand the involvement of EVs in those mechanism(s) and to investigate ways of exploiting this information present on the EVs. The major accomplishment of this project was to discover a potential biomarker involved in resistance to neratinib.

During my Ph.D. investigating the EVs and tumour microenvironment, I realised I was missing an essential piece of this massive puzzle: the immune system. I contacted Dr Maria Casanova-Acebes for the first time in 2021 after becoming enchanted by her astonishing work, and since then, I aspired to be part of her group. After completing my Ph.D. thesis in August 2023, this idea came true, and now I am ready to conquer another vast universe at CNIO.

When I am not in the lab, I like to enjoy a good cup of coffee while reading, I love hiking, and I am passionate about traveling and photography. Have I mentioned that I like coffee?

You want to know our projects

A summary of the major ideas we are developing in the laboratory. Following the data as we follow myeloid cells, projects are dynamically evolving, so stay tuned for updates in the NEWS section.