Ms. María Vallet Regí

Medalla nº LII

 

Professor María Vallet-Regí is a Spanish chemist, scientist and Professor at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. She is a widely recognized and cited researcher in Biomedicine, particularly in the fields of regenerative biomaterials and drug delivery systems. Her publications (more than 700 peer-reviewed papers) have been cited over 37,800 times and her h-index is 91. Prof. Vallet-Regí has been awarded many important International prizes and she is member of the Spanish academies of Pharmacy and Engineering and the International College of Fellows of Biomaterials Science and Engineering (FBSE) and the American Institute for Biomedical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

 

Prof. Vallet-Regí is widely regarded for her contributions to Biotechnology and Medicine. Moreover, she is a Highly Cited Researcher 2018 (Clarivate Analytics). This list recognizes world-class researchers selected for their exceptional research performance, demonstrated by production of multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations per field and year in Web of Science. She is recognized as a pioneer in the field of ceramic materials applied to medicine. On one hand, she has been working in the biomaterials area developing bioceramics for bone grafting applications and scaffolds for regenerative biomedicine. On the other hand, prof. Vallet-Regí has intensely investigated on nanocarriers of different nature to deliver therapeutic agents to diseased tissues without affecting healthy organs. She was the pioneer who suggested introducing drugs into the pores of mesoporous silica materials, which inspired thousands of publications worldwide involving mesoporous silica nanoparticles for drug delivery.

 

The technology on smart drug delivery nanocarriers developed by Prof. Vallet-Regí drew the attention of many oncologists, such as Dr. Manuel Ramírez-Orellana, a prestigious pediatric oncologist who works in Neuroblastoma, the most frequent extracranial pediatric tumor. It presents a dismal prognosis despite the combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery and bone narrow transplants. As a consequence of a fruitful collaboration, Prof. Vallet-Regí developed nanocarriers able to detect and destroy only neuroblastoma cells and the subsequent patent (Ligands for enhanced imaging and drug delivery to neuroblastoma cells. Patent No:  EP18382207.1) is expected to fuel the translation of this technology to the clinic to be applied to patients. Additionally, Prof. Vallet-Regí works closely with the Association of Families with Children Affected by Neuroblastoma, through the following project: Development of intelligent nanotransporters for neuroblastoma therapy.

 

Prof. Vallet-Regí has also developed a novel stimuli-responsive nanodevice based on nanocapsules with controlled degradation for the sustained release of collagenase. This technology is on the first steps of preclinical analyses for the potential treatment of sclerodermia, a fibrotic disease characterised by an abnormal accumulation of collagen. The transport and release of a proteolytic enzyme such as collagenase able to digest collagen fibers has been tested both in vitro and in vivo using an animal model. The research team involved in this project includes specialized professionals in nanotechnology and medicine from Hospital 12 de Octubre in Madrid, Spain, and lead to the patent Nanocapsules with controlled degradation for sustained release of collagenase in clinical applications (Patent No:  EP18382005.9).

 

The research group of prof. Vallet-Regí has produced hundreds of publications on Stimuli-Responsive Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles (http://www.ucm.es/valletregigroup). In this sense, Prof. Vallet-Regí has obtained promising results on cell studies using many different stimuli to trigger the release of the therapeutic cargo, such as ultrasound, magnetic field, light, near infrared, pH or presence of certain enzymes (see CV for publications in this area).

 

As a consequence of Prof. Vallet-Regí scientific results, both Government Agencies and Companies have shown interest on commercializing her work. In this sense, and based on the Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC-2015-AdG Proposal No.694160, VERDI), the ERC has granted prof. Vallet-Regí the Proof of Concept Grant entitled: Developments of Collagenase Polymeric nanocapsules as Therapeutics (DECOMPACT). The goal of this proof of concept project is the development and commercialization of a novel treatment to scleroderma and the first clinical trials in patients is being designed in collaboration with 12 de Octubre University Hospital. Additionally, the Company Canaan Research & Investment has shown interest on Prof. Vallet-Regí work. Her research team has recently participated in the “Health Investment Forum”, thanks to which, there are several companies bidding to work with them.

 

Prof. Vallet-Regí has also worked in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Company in the development of three-dimensional polymeric scaffolds prepared by the technique of rapid prototyping. The 3D scaffolds with macroporous structure were designed for hepatocyte cell culture and evaluation of hepatotoxicity. GSK Company is interested in the development of these 3D scaffolds for their direct application in the initial stages of the discovery process of new drugs by using them in the drug screening of efficacy and hepatic toxicity.

 

In addition, she was recipient of two IDEA2 Awards in biomedical innovation competition of the M+Vision Consortium participated by the MIT and the Autonomous Community of Madrid entitled NANOIMPLANT: nanostructured coatings for orthopedic implants (2014) and NANODRONE: Nanomedicines targeted to Neuroblastoma (2015). Prof. Vallet-Regí has also thoroughly worked on treatment and prevention of orthopaedic implant-associated infections. She has developed, in collaboration with a CSIC group, a new technology able to avoid bacterial colonization and biofilm formation onto titanium implants, while promoting bone bonding. This technology is based on tailoring the surfaces of titanium at the nanoscale and has been recognized with the MIT-IDEA2 award above mentioned. The patent (Biocompatible implants made of nanostructured titanium with antibacterial properties Patent No:  PCT/ES2015/070345) has generated high interest from multinational companies (DePuy Synthes) on a potential translation to the clinical application.

 

Selected Honors and Awards:

  • 2019-FEMS Materials Innovation Prize 2019 of the Federation of European Materials Science Societie.
  • 2019-George Winter Award 2019  of the European Society for Biomaterials.
  • 2019-Medalla al Mérito en la Investigación y en la Educación Universitaria
  • 2019- Influential award,El Confidencial y Herbert Smith Freehills
  • 2018-Rei Jaume I Award in Basic Research.
  • 2018- Member of the Scientific Committee of Areces Fundation.
  • 2018-Member of the International Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of ICN2
  • 2017-Julio Peláez Award to Pioneer Women in Sciences, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.
  • 2016-Lilly Award to the Distinguished Career in Chemistry.
  • 2016- Member of the Scientific Committee of Lilly Fundation.
  • 2015-IDEA2 2015 Award. Autonomous Community of Madrid and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Consortium.
  • 2015-Doctor Honoris Causa by the Universidad Jaume I, Castellón, Spain
  • 2014- GACETA DENTAL Research Award.
  • 2014-Member of the International Scientific Committee of Basque Center for Materials Applications & Nanostructure.
  • 2014-IDEA2 Award. Autonomous Community of Madrid and MIT Consortium.
  • 2013-IUPAC Distinguished Woman in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
  • 2013-Doctor Honoris Causa by the Basque Country University.
  • 2013-Research Prize in Sciences “Miguel Catalán” of the Autonomous Community of Madrid.
  • 2011-Research Prize of the Business Federation of Spanish Chemical Industries (FEIQUE).
  • 2011-Gold Medal of the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry (RSEQ).
  • 2010- Evaluator of the National Research Program “Smart Materials” (NRP 62) of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and Swiss Innovation Promotion Agency (CTI).
  • 2009-2015- Advisor of the Materials for the Future Cluster. Project: “The University City of Moncloa: a Campus of International Excellence in the City of Madrid”. U.C.M.
  • 2009-2017 Member of Scientific advisory board (SAB) of EXSELENT. University of Stockholm.
  • 2008-National Research Prize in Engineering “Leonardo Torres Quevedo”, Education Ministry.
  • 2008-Prize in Inorganic Chemistry of the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry (RSEQ).
  • 2000-French-Spanish Prize “Catalán Sabatier” of the French Chemical Society.
  • 1999-2007- Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry (R.S.E.Q.) Member and Vice-president.
  • 1993-2003- Member of the “Science for peace steering group” of the NATO.

 

Academy Membership:

  • Since 2017      Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).
  • Since 2012      International College of Fellows of Biomaterials Science & Engineering (ICF-BSE)
  • Since 2011      Fellow of the Spanish Royal Academy of Pharmacy (RANF), Medal XLII
  • Since 2004      Fellow of the Spanish Royal Academy of Engineering (RAI), Medal LII.
  • Since 1997      Elected Honorary Member of the Materials Research Society of India.

 

Researcher Identifiers: