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Sandra Acosta Verdugo

Universidad Pompeu Fabra Barcelona

Dr. Acosta is a young group leader and Serra-Hunter assistant professor in Embryology and Anatomy at University of Barcelona. She is expert in brain organoids and modeling neurological disorders. She has an extensive experience modeling brain disorders acquired during her post-doctoral training in the labs of world leaders of the field Dr. Vanderhaeghen (VIB, Universite Libre Bruxelles, Belgium) and Dr. Oliver (Northwestern University, Chicago, USA). From these post-doctoral stays she has published a number of articles in top journals of the field including in Neuron, Cell Reports and Development, as well as she submitted a patent for a new method for genetic engineering in embryonic stem cells. In her group, they focus on understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms implicated in the brain development, homeostasis and disease. They have recently identified the relevance of the localization of active enhancers to control the activity of the tissue. Dr. Acosta is leading the use of brain organoids to unveil the role of non-cell autonomous mechanisms in neurodevelopmental disorders such as Down Syndrome and epileptic encephalopathies using the brain organoid derived from patient ́s iPSC and human ESC.

Beyond her dedication to basic neurodevelopmetnal research, she recently developed an image-based organoid method to analyze the efficacy and toxicity of drugs using an artificial intelligence algorithm in collaboration with Dr. Lao. Her lab is funded by public and private funding agencies at a national and international level.