Interview with José Antonio Lamas, Principal Investigator of the CINBIO Neurosciences Group

Doctor in Biology and tenured professor at the University of Vigo, José Antonio Lamas started the Neurosciences Group in 1997 in the Faculty of Biology. Last year, the group moved their activities to CINBIO’s facilities and it is from there that they are currently carrying out their research work.

 

What are the main lines of research in the Neurosciences group?

Our main line of research focuses on the detection of two-pore domain potassium channels (K2P) in the Autonomic nervous system. This research is particularly interesting due to the fact that these channels are the last large family of potassium channels to be discovered and could be of great importance in the operating pattern of the Autonomic Nervous System. This study is included in a project promoted by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (MINECO) and will last for 3 years.

 

What strengths would you highlight in your research group?

One of the strengths of our group is the ability to attract funding, above all on a national level, and since 1998 we have consistently been awarded funding by MINECO for competitive projects. Furthermore, we have been recognised as a benchmark group (Group with Potential for Growth) by the Xunta de Galicia in the grants framework for the Consolidation and Structuration of Competitive Research Units of the University System in Galicia. Federico Mallo Ferrer, Principal Investigator in the Endocrinology group, is also taking part in this project.

 

Which other research groups at national and international level does the group collaborate with?

 We are involved in multiple collaborations, especially with other Spanish research groups. One of the most significant collaborations came about through the CONSOLIDER-INGENIO 2010 Programme, as part of the SICI project (Spanish Ion Channel Initiative). This made it possible for us to work with 25 other research groups from all over Spain who are dedicated to the study of ionic channels. The project was carried out over 6 years (2008-2014) with total funding of €6,000,000.

At the moment, we also have collaborations with other research groups at CINBIO, such as the Endocrinology group and Organic Chemistry group. This favours the development of a knowledge ecosystem which improves the relevance and potential of our lines of research.

 

What differentiating value from the Neurosciences group would you highlight compared to other similar groups?

Our group stands out because it is the only one in Galicia to use the patch clamp technique, permitting the individual or multiple study of ionic channels. This technique, which was developed by Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann, is the basis of later discoveries in the field of medicine and pharmacology. (Neher and Sakmann received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1991 for this advancement).

The group has recently participated in a meet up with Erwin Neher, along with other experts in neurosciences from the three Galician universities and research centres from our autonomous region.