Miguel Angel Pujana

IDIBELL Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, Barcino, Catalonia, Spain

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Publications (75)516.45 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Identification of genes associated with hereditary cancers facilitates management of patients with family histories of cancer. We performed exome sequencing of DNA from 3 individuals from a family with colorectal cancer who met the Amsterdam criteria for risk of hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. These individuals had mismatch repair-proficient tumors and each carried nonsense variant in the FANCD2/FANCI-associated nuclease 1 gene (FAN1), which encodes a nuclease involved in DNA inter-strand cross-link repair. We sequenced FAN1 in 176 additional families with histories of colorectal cancer and performed in vitro functional analyses of the mutant forms of FAN1 identified. We detected FAN1 mutations in ∼3% families with who met the Amsterdam criteria and had mismatch repair-proficient cancers with no previously associated mutations. These findings link colorectal cancer predisposition to the Fanconi anemia DNA repair pathway, supporting the connection between genome integrity and cancer risk. Copyright © 2015 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Gastroenterology 06/2015; DOI:10.1053/j.gastro.2015.05.056 · 13.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: While interplay between BRCA1 and AURKA-RHAMM-TPX2-TUBG1 regulates mammary epithelial polarization, common genetic variation in HMMR (gene product RHAMM) may be associated with risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 mutation carriers. Following on these observations, we further assessed the link between the AURKA-HMMR-TPX2-TUBG1 functional module and risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers. Forty-one single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in 15,252 BRCA1 and 8,211 BRCA2 mutation carriers and subsequently analyzed using a retrospective likelihood approach. The association of HMMR rs299290 with breast cancer risk in BRCA1 mutation carriers was confirmed: per-allele hazard ratio (HR) = 1.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04 - 1.15, p = 1.9 x 10-4 (false discovery rate (FDR)-adjusted p = 0.043). Variation in CSTF1, located next to AURKA, was also found to be associated with breast cancer risk in BRCA2 mutation carriers: rs2426618 per-allele HR = 1.10, 95% CI 1.03 - 1.16, p = 0.005 (FDR-adjusted p = 0.045). Assessment of pairwise interactions provided suggestions (FDR-adjusted pinteraction values > 0.05) for deviations from the multiplicative model for rs299290 and CSTF1 rs6064391, and rs299290 and TUBG1 rs11649877 in both BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. Following these suggestions, the expression of HMMR and AURKA or TUBG1 in sporadic breast tumors was found to potentially interact, influencing patients' survival. Together, the results of this study support the hypothesis of a causative link between altered function of AURKA-HMMR-TPX2-TUBG1 and breast carcinogenesis in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers. PMID: 25830658 [PubMed - in process]
    PLoS ONE 04/2015; 10(4). · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are soft-tissue sarcomas that can arise either sporadically or in association with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). These aggressive malignancies confer poor survival, with no effective therapy available. We present the generation and characterization of five distinct MPNST orthoxenograft models for preclinical testing and personalized medicine. Four of the models are patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDTX), two independent MPNSTs from the same NF1 patient and two from different sporadic patients. The fifth model is an orthoxenograft derived from an NF1-related MPNST cell line. All MPNST orthoxenografts were generated by tumor implantation, or cell line injection, next to the sciatic nerve of nude mice, and were perpetuated by 7–10 mouse-to-mouse passages. The models reliably recapitulate the histopathological properties of their parental primary tumors. They also mimic distal dissemination properties in mice. Human stroma was rapidly lost after MPNST engraftment and replaced by murine stroma, which facilitated genomic tumor characterization. Compatible with an origin in a catastrophic event and subsequent genome stabilization, MPNST contained highly altered genomes that remained remarkably stable in orthoxenograft establishment and along passages. Mutational frequency and type of somatic point mutations were highly variable among the different MPNSTs modeled, but very consistent when comparing primary tumors with matched orthoxenografts generated. Unsupervised cluster analysis and principal component analysis (PCA) using an MPNST expression signature of ~1,000 genes grouped together all primary tumor–orthoxenograft pairs. Our work points to differences in the engraftment process of primary tumors compared with the engraftment of established cell lines. Following standardization and extensive characterization and validation, the orthoxenograft models were used for initial preclinical drug testing. Sorafenib (a BRAF inhibitor), in combination with doxorubicin or rapamycin, was found to be the most effective treatment for reducing MPNST growth. The development of genomically well-characterized preclinical models for MPNST allowed the evaluation of novel therapeutic strategies for personalized medicine.
    EMBO Molecular Medicine 03/2015; 7(5). DOI:10.15252/emmm.201404430 · 8.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Many common diseases, such as asthma, diabetes or obesity, involve altered interactions between thousands of genes. High-throughput techniques (omics) allow identification of such genes and their products, but functional understanding is a formidable challenge. Network-based analyses of omics data have identified modules of disease-associated genes that have been used to obtain both a systems level and a molecular understanding of disease mechanisms. For example, in allergy a module was used to find a novel candidate gene that was validated by functional and clinical studies. Such analyses play important roles in systems medicine. This is an emerging discipline that aims to gain a translational understanding of the complex mechanisms underlying common diseases. In this review, we will explain and provide examples of how network-based analyses of omics data, in combination with functional and clinical studies, are aiding our understanding of disease, as well as helping to prioritize diagnostic markers or therapeutic candidate genes. Such analyses involve significant problems and limitations, which will be discussed. We also highlight the steps needed for clinical implementation.
    Genome Medicine 10/2014; 6(10):82. DOI:10.1186/s13073-014-0082-6 · 4.94 Impact Factor
  • Miguel Angel Pujana
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years there have been major advances in the knowledge of the genetic alterations that drive cancer susceptibility and progression. However, the molecular links between these alteration levels (i.e., germline for susceptibility and somatic for progression) remain mostly unknown. Here, the potential of integrating germline and somatic data for a comprehensive and personalized cancer medicine is discussed.
    Trends in Molecular Medicine 08/2014; 20(8):413–415. DOI:10.1016/j.molmed.2014.05.004 · 10.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Most patients with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) develop cortical tubers that cause severe neurological disabilities. It has been suggested that defects in neuronal differentiation and/or migration underlie the appearance of tubers. However, the precise molecular alterations remain largely unknown. Here, by combining cytological and immunohistochemical analyses of tubers from nine TSC patients (four of them diagnosed with TSC2 germline mutations) we show that alteration of microtubule biology through ROCK2 signaling contributes to TSC neuropathology. All tubers showed a larger number of binucleated neurons than expected relative to control cortex. An excess of normal and altered cytokinetic figures was also commonly observed. Analysis of centrosomal markers suggested increased microtubule nucleation capacity, which was supported by the analysis of an expression dataset from cortical tubers and control cortex, and subsequently linked to under-expression of Rho-associated coiled-coil containing kinase 2 (ROCK2). Thus, augmented microtubule nucleation capacity was observed in mouse embryonic fibroblasts and human fibroblasts deficient in the Tsc2/TSC2 gene product, tuberin. Consistent with ROCK2 under-expression, microtubule acetylation was found to be increased with tuberin deficiency; this alteration was abrogated by rapamycin treatment and mimicked by HDAC6 inhibition. Together, the results of this study support the hypothesis that loss of TSC2 expression can alter microtubule organization and dynamics, which, in turn, deregulate cell division and potentially impair neuronal differentiation.
    The Journal of Pathology 07/2014; 233(3). DOI:10.1002/path.4343 · 7.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Endocrine therapies targeting cell proliferation and survival mediated by estrogen receptor α (ERα) are among the most effective systemic treatments for ERα-positive breast cancer. However, most tumors initially responsive to these therapies acquire resistance through mechanisms that involve ERα transcriptional regulatory plasticity. Here, we identify VAV3 as a critical component in this process.
    Breast Cancer Research 05/2014; 16(3):R53. DOI:10.1186/bcr3664 · 5.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Epigenetic regulation and, in particular, DNA methylation have been linked to the underlying genetic sequence. DNA methylation quantitative trait loci (meQTL) have been identified through significant associations between the genetic and epigenetic codes in physiological and pathological contexts. We propose that interrogating the interplay between polymorphic alleles and DNA methylation is a powerful method for improving our interpretation of risk alleles identified in genome-wide association studies that otherwise lack mechanistic explanation. We integrated patient cancer risk genotype data and genome-scale DNA methylation profiles of 3,649 primary human tumors, representing 13 solid cancer types. We provide a comprehensive meQTL catalog containing DNA methylation associations for 21% of interrogated cancer risk polymorphisms. Differentially methylated loci harbor previously reported and as-yet-unidentified cancer genes. We suggest that such regulation at the DNA level can provide a considerable amount of new information about the biology of cancer-risk alleles.
    Cell Reports 04/2014; 7(2). DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2014.03.016 · 7.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Protein kinase A (PKA) hyperactivation causes hereditary endocrine neoplasias; however, its role in sporadic epithelial cancers is unknown. Here, we show that heightened PKA activity in the mammary epithelium generates tumors. Mammary-restricted biallelic ablation of Prkar1a, which encodes for the critical type-I PKA regulatory subunit, induced spontaneous breast tumors characterized by enhanced type-II PKA activity. Downstream of this, Src phosphorylation occurs at residues serine-17 and tyrosine-416 and mammary cell transformation is driven through a mechanism involving Src signaling. The phenotypic consequences of these alterations consisted of increased cell proliferation and, accordingly, expansion of both luminal and basal epithelial cell populations. In human breast cancer, low PRKAR1A/high SRC expression defines basal-like and HER2 breast tumors associated with poor clinical outcome. Together, the results of this study define a novel molecular mechanism altered in breast carcinogenesis and highlight the potential strategy of inhibiting SRC signaling in treating this cancer subtype in humans.Oncogene advance online publication, 24 March 2014; doi:10.1038/onc.2014.41.
    Oncogene 03/2014; 34(9). DOI:10.1038/onc.2014.41 · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Translational research typically aims to identify and functionally validate individual, disease-specific genes. However, reaching this aim is complicated by the involvement of thousands of genes in common diseases, and that many of those genes are pleiotropic, i.e. shared by several diseases. We integrated genomic meta-analyses with prospective clinical studies to systematically investigate the pathogenic, diagnostic and therapeutic roles of pleiotropic genes. In a novel approach, we first used pathway analysis of all published GWAS to find a cell type common to many diseases. The analysis showed over-representation of the T helper cell differentiation pathway, which is expressed in T cells. This led us to focus on expression profiling of CD4+ T cells from highly diverse inflammatory and malignant diseases. We found that pleiotropic genes were highly interconnected and formed a pleiotropic module, which was enriched for inflammatory, metabolic and proliferative pathways. The general relevance of this module was supported by highly significant enrichment of genetic variants identified by all GWAS and cancer studies, as well as known diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Prospective clinical studies of multiple sclerosis and allergy showed the importance of both pleiotropic and disease specific modules for clinical stratification. In summary, this translational genomics study identified a pleiotropic module, which has key pathogenic, diagnostic and therapeutic roles.
    Genome Medicine 02/2014; 6(2):17. DOI:10.1186/gm534 · 4.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dozens of common genetic variants associated with cancer risk have been identified through genome-wide association studies (GWASs). However, these variants only explain a modest fraction of the heritability of disease. The missing heritability has been attributed to several factors, among them the existence of genetic interactions (GxG). Systematic screens for GxG in model organisms have revealed their fundamental influence in complex phenotypes. In this scenario, GxG overlap significantly with other types of gene and/or protein relationships. Here, by integrating predicted GxG from GWAS data and complex- and context-defined gene co-expression profiles, we provide evidence for GxG associated with cancer risk. GxG predicted from a breast cancer GWAS dataset identified significant overlaps (relative enrichments of 8-36%, empirical P values < 0.05 - 10(-4)) with complex (non-linear) gene co-expression in breast tumors. The use of gene or protein data not specific for breast cancer did not reveal overlaps. According to the predicted GxG, experimental assays demonstrated functional interplay between LPP and TGFβ signaling in the MCF10A non-tumorigenic mammary epithelial cell model. Next, integration of pancreatic tumor gene expression profiles with pancreatic cancer GxG predicted from a GWAS corroborated the observations made for breast cancer risk (relative enrichments of 25-59%). The method presented here can potentially support the identification of genetic interactions associated with cancer risk, providing novel mechanistic hypotheses for carcinogenesis.
    Carcinogenesis 12/2013; DOI:10.1093/carcin/bgt403 · 5.27 Impact Factor
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  • Cancer Research 08/2013; 73(8 Supplement):LB-214-LB-214. DOI:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2013-LB-214 · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours (MPNST) are rare, hereditary cancers associated with neurofibromatosis type I. MPNSTs lack effective treatment options as they often resist chemotherapies and have high rates of disease recurrence. Aurora kinase A (AURKA) is an emerging target in cancer and an aurora kinase inhibitor (AKI), termed MLN8237, shows promise against MPNST cell lines in vitro and in vivo. Here, we test MLN8237 against two primary human MPNST grown in vivo as xenotransplants and find that treatment results in tumour cells exiting the cell cycle and undergoing endoreduplication, which cumulates in stabilized disease. Targeted therapies can often fail in the clinic due to insufficient knowledge about factors that determine tumour susceptibilities, so we turned to three MPNST cell-lines to further study and modulate the cellular responses to AKI. We find that the sensitivity of cell-lines with amplification of AURKA depends upon the activity of the kinase, which correlates with the expression of the regulatory gene products TPX2 and HMMR/RHAMM. Silencing of HMMR/RHAMM, but not TPX2, augments AURKA activity and sensitizes MPNST cells to AKI. Furthermore, we find that AURKA activity is critical to the propagation and self-renewal of sphere-enriched MPNST cancer stem-like cells. AKI treatment significantly reduces the formation of spheroids, attenuates the self-renewal of spheroid forming cells, and promotes their differentiation. Moreover, silencing of HMMR/RHAMM is sufficient to endow MPNST cells with an ability to form and maintain sphere culture. Collectively, our data indicate that AURKA is a rationale therapeutic target for MPNST and tumour cell responses to AKI, which include differentiation, are modulated by the abundance of HMMR/RHAMM.
    Oncotarget 01/2013; 4(1). · 6.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adult stem cells have an enormous potential for clinical use in regenerative medicine that avoids many of the drawbacks characteristic of embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. In this context, easily obtainable human adipose-derived stem cells offer an interesting option for future strategies in regenerative medicine. However, little is known about their repertoire of differentiation capacities, how closely they resemble the target primary tissues, and the potential safety issues associated with their use. DNA methylation is one of the most widely recognized epigenetic factors involved in cellular identity, prompting us to consider how the analyses of 27,578 CpG sites in the genome of these cells under different conditions reflect their different natural history. We show that human adipose-derived stem cells generate myogenic and osteogenic lineages that share much of the DNA methylation landscape characteristic of primary myocytes and osteocytes. Most important, adult stem cells and in vitro-generated myocytes and osteocytes display a significantly different DNA methylome from that observed in transformed cells from these tissue types, such as rhabdomyosarcoma and osteosarcoma. These results suggest that the plasticity of the DNA methylation patterns plays an important role in lineage commitment of adult stem cells and that it could be used for clinical purposes as a biomarker of efficient and safely differentiated cells.
    American Journal Of Pathology 09/2012; 7(6). DOI:10.1016/j.ajpath.2012.08.016 · 4.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the fifth leading cause of death in women diagnosed with gynecologic malignancies. The low survival rate is because of its advanced-stage diagnosis and either intrinsic or acquired resistance to standard platinum-based chemotherapy. So, the development of effective innovative therapeutic strategies to overcome cisplatin resistance remains a high priority. To investigate new treatments in in vivo models reproducing EOCs tumor growth, we generated a preclinical model of ovarian cancer after orthotopic implantation of a primary serous tumor in nude mice. Further, matched model of acquired cisplatin-resistant tumor version was successfully derived in mice. Effectiveness of lurbinectedin (PM01183) treatment, a novel marine-derived DNA minor groove covalent binder, was assessed in both preclinical models as a single and a combined-cisplatin agent. Orthotopically perpetuated tumor grafts mimic the histopathological characteristics of primary patients' tumors and they also recapitulate in mice characteristic features of tumor response to cisplatin treatments. We showed that single lurbinectedin or cisplatin-combined therapies were effective in treating cisplatin-sensitive and cisplatin-resistant preclinical ovarian tumor models. Furthermore, the strongest in vivo synergistic effect was observed for combined treatments, especially in cisplatin-resistant tumors. Lurbinectedin tumor growth inhibition was associated with reduced proliferation, increased rate of aberrant mitosis, and subsequent induced apoptosis. Taken together, preclinical orthotopic ovarian tumor grafts are useful tools for drug development, providing hard evidence that lurbinectedin might be a useful therapy in the treatment of EOC by overcoming cisplatin resistance. Clin Cancer Res; 18(19); 5399-411. ©2012 AACR.
    Clinical Cancer Research 08/2012; 18(19):5399-411. DOI:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-1513 · 8.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The products of genes mutated or differentially expressed in cancer tend to occupy central positions within the network of protein-protein interactions, or the interactome network. Integration of different types of gene and protein relationships has considerably increased the understanding of the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, while also enhancing the applicability of expression signatures. In this scenario, however, it remains unknown how cancer develops, progresses and responds to therapies in a potentially controlled manner at the systems level. Here, by applying the concepts of load transfer and cascading failures in power grids, we examine the impact and transmission of cancer-related gene expression changes in the interactome network. Relative to random perturbations, this study reveals topological robustness associated with all cancer conditions. In addition, experimental perturbation of a central cancer node, which consists of over-expression of the α-synuclein (SNCA) protein in MCF7 breast cancer cells, also reveals robustness. Conversely, a search for proteins with an opposite topological impact identifies the autophagy pathway. Mechanistically, the existence of smaller shortest paths among cancer-related proteins appears to be a topological feature that partially contributes to the restricted perturbation of the network. Together, the results of this study suggest that cancer develops, progresses and responds to therapies following controlled, restricted perturbation of the interactome network.
    Integrative Biology 07/2012; 4(9):1038-48. DOI:10.1039/c2ib20052j · 4.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human aging cannot be fully understood in terms of the constrained genetic setting. Epigenetic drift is an alternative means of explaining age-associated alterations. To address this issue, we performed whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) of newborn and centenarian genomes. The centenarian DNA had a lower DNA methylation content and a reduced correlation in the methylation status of neighboring cytosine--phosphate--guanine (CpGs) throughout the genome in comparison with the more homogeneously methylated newborn DNA. The more hypomethylated CpGs observed in the centenarian DNA compared with the neonate covered all genomic compartments, such as promoters, exonic, intronic, and intergenic regions. For regulatory regions, the most hypomethylated sequences in the centenarian DNA were present mainly at CpG-poor promoters and in tissue-specific genes, whereas a greater level of DNA methylation was observed in CpG island promoters. We extended the study to a larger cohort of newborn and nonagenarian samples using a 450,000 CpG-site DNA methylation microarray that reinforced the observation of more hypomethylated DNA sequences in the advanced age group. WGBS and 450,000 analyses of middle-age individuals demonstrated DNA methylomes in the crossroad between the newborn and the nonagenarian/centenarian groups. Our study constitutes a unique DNA methylation analysis of the extreme points of human life at a single-nucleotide resolution level.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2012; 109(26):10522-7. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1120658109 · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • Miguel Angel Pujana, Christopher A. Maxwell
    Cancer Research 06/2012; 72(8 Supplement):2608-2608. DOI:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2012-2608 · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genes that, when mutated, cause Fanconi anemia or greatly increase breast cancer risk encode for proteins that converge on a homology-directed DNA damage repair process. Mutations in the SLX4 gene, which encodes for a scaffold protein involved in the repair of interstrand cross-links, have recently been identified in unclassified Fanconi anemia patients. A mutation analysis of SLX4 in German or Byelorussian familial cases of breast cancer without detected mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 has been completed, with globally negative results. The genomic region of SLX4, comprising all exons and exon-intron boundaries, was sequenced in 94 Spanish familial breast cancer cases that match a criterion indicating the potential presence of a highly-penetrant germline mutation, following exclusion of BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. This mutational analysis revealed extensive genetic variation of SLX4, with 21 novel single nucleotide variants; however, none could be linked to a clear alteration of the protein function. Nonetheless, genotyping 10 variants (nine novel, all missense amino acid changes) in a set of controls (138 women and 146 men) did not detect seven of them. Overall, while the results of this study do not identify clearly pathogenic mutations of SLX4 contributing to breast cancer risk, further genetic analysis, combined with functional assays of the identified rare variants, may be warranted to conclusively assess the potential link with the disease.
    BMC Cancer 03/2012; 12:84. DOI:10.1186/1471-2407-12-84 · 3.32 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
516.45 Total Impact Points


  • 2009–2014
    • IDIBELL Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
      • Programa de Epigenética y Biología del Cáncer - PEBC
      Barcino, Catalonia, Spain
  • 2007–2014
    • Catalan Institute of Oncology
      • Translational Research Laboratory
      Badalona, Catalonia, Spain
  • 2012
    • University of British Columbia - Vancouver
      • Department of Pediatrics
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2010
    • Centre Oscar Lambret
      Lille, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
  • 2006–2007
    • Harvard Medical School
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2002–2006
    • CRG Centre for Genomic Regulation
      Barcino, Catalonia, Spain
  • 2005
    • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
      • Department of Cancer Biology
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2003
    • Parc de recerca biomedica de barcelona
      Barcino, Catalonia, Spain
  • 1998
    • Institutul Regional de Oncologie
      Socola, Iaşi, Romania
    • Hospital Clínic de Barcelona
      Barcino, Catalonia, Spain
  • 1996–1997
    • Centro de Investigación del Cáncer
      Helmantica, Castille and León, Spain