The Research Programme on Biomedical Informatics carries out fundamental research and technological developments on the application of advanced information technologies and computational methods in the health and life sciences. Ferran Sanz is the programme director.
The programme has a wide experience in the participation and coordination of research projects funded by the European Commission and a long tradition of collaboration with the pharmaceutical and biotech industry in the framework of R&D projects and providing services, especially developing computational methods to discover new drugs.
Researchers working on this programme are involved in pre and postgraduate teaching at the UPF, and direct the Master degree in Bioinformatics for Health Sciences.
The programme is currently organised in six research groups:
- Biocomputational genomics is devoted to the development and application of methods to identify functional domains in genomic sequences. The main researcher in this group is Roderic Guigó (CRG).
- Evolutionary genomics, focusing on using comparative genomics and large-scale data analysis to better understand the evolution of genes and genomes and to predict functional elements. The person responsible for this group is Mar Albà (IMIM-UPF-ICREA)
- GPCR drug discovery, focused on the functionality of G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in the context of CNS-related disorders taking into account: receptor plasticity, activation mechanism, signaling bias, ligand binding, the effect of the membrane and other interaction partners. The final goal is to translate obtained molecular insights into the design of drug candidates with improved therapeutic profiles. Jana Selent (IMIM-UPF) is the group leader.
- Integrative biomedical informatics, a singular group particularly dedicated to the generation and execution of research initiatives that aim to contribute to the solution of biomedical problems on the basis of the joint application of methods and strategies afforded in different labs. Laura Furlong (IMIM) and Ferran Sanz (IMIM-UPF) are the main researchers in this group.
- PharmacoInformatics, a group focused on the development and application of computational methods oriented to the discovery and development of new drugs. Manuel Pastor (UPF-IMIM) is the main researchers in the group. Ismael Zamora (UPF), Director of Lead Molecular Design, collaborates with this group.
- Systems pharmacology, which is dedicated to the development of novel integrative biochemoinformatics methods and their application to the annotation of large chemical libraries to entire protein families of therapeutic interest. Jordi Mestres (IMIM-UPF) is the group leader.
The programme coordinates jointly with Farmaindustria the Plataforma Tecnológica Española de Medicamentos Innovadores (PTEMI) is also the node for Biomedical Informatics of the Spanish Institute of Bioinformatics (INB).GRIB participates also in the Bioinformatics Barcelona Association (BIB), which aims to promote training, research, and technology transfer in bioinformatics. Ferran Sanz, GRIB’s director, is the co-president of the PTEMI and vicepresident of the BIB.
The programme is located at the Biomedical Research Park of Barcelona (PRBB) where an exceptional cluster of research programmes and groups are working on Computational Biology and Biomedical Informatics. The collaboration with scientists of these groups is frequent and very productive.
The programme’s research activity has originated the development of numerous scientific software and the creation of several spin-off companies: Pharmatools Digital Interactive Services, founded by Ferran Sanz, and Chemotargets, founded by Jordi Mestres.