'Biofunctionalization of materials for application in regenerative medicine constitutes a constantly expanding field that will introduce revolutionary changes in classical healthcare and drastically improve the quality of life of patients. In recent years, extensive research has focused on the development of new biomaterials with the ability to restore damaged parts of the body and enhance tissue regeneration. However, much of this challenging area of research remains to be explored. This is the case of orthopedic and dental implants, where a poor biointegration of implant materials is associated with limited long-term medical outcomes and implant failure. To overcome this issue, strong and stable biochemical and mechanical interaction between the implant surface and the surrounding bone tissue are required after the implant surgery.
This research project aims to design, develop and investigate novel biofunctionalized metallic materials (low elastic modulus Ti alloys) for their application as biomedical devices for bone osseointegration and regeneration. Functional biomolecules with defined bioactive motifs to selectively enhance cell adhesion and improve biointegration, as well as with antibacterial properties, will be immobilized covalently on the metal surface by using organosilanes as crosslinker molecules. Biofunctionalized surfaces will be fully characterized for physical properties, chemical composition and biological activity. In vitro biological studies will include adhesion, proliferation and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells. The biomaterials displaying the best biological profiles will be implanted in minipigs to investigate their osseointegration properties in vivo and their potential to be used in the clinics.
This research project proposes a highly multidisciplinary approach combining high quality and excellence in the fields of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Material Science to overcome a major challenge in Medicine currently not addressed.'
'The retina of vertebrates contains two kinds of photoreceptor cells, the abundant rod cells, containing the rhodopsin pigment, and the much scarcer cone cells, with the blue, green and red cone pigments. Upon photoactivation, they interact and activate a specific heterotrimeric G protein, transducin, initiating the visual signalling phototransduction cascade. To date, little information about the interaction cone pigment-transducin is known.
The main goal of this project is to provide an overall picture that integrates in a coherent scheme the molecular basis of the interaction cone pigment-cone transducin following two approaches. In a first approach, Dr Ramon proposes to unravel the effect of cone degeneration associated mutations found in cone pigments, and transducin ? subunit genes. To do that, these mutant proteins will be expressed (using eukaryotic or prokaryotic systems) and characterized by means of immunocytochemic and spectroscopic techniques.
On a second approach, Dr Ramon will study the interaction cone pigment-cone transducin by means of Surface Plasmon Resonance spectroscopy, providing the kinetic features of the biomolecular interactions and NMR spectrosocopy, by determining the conformation of cone transducin upon cone pigment binding
The collaboration of different groups with the host institution -which will allow short stays of the applicant in these laboratories- and their involvement in the development of this project will help to disseminate the results not only Europe, but worldwide.
Cone pigments have not been widely studied due to the scarcer amount in nature as compared with the rod pigment rhodopsin. most of the information available on cone pigment phototransduction is inferred or extrapolated from the rod system due to its similarities with rhodopsin, the prototypical representative of G protein coupled receptors. For this reason, the project herein proposed will represent an important advance in the visual diseases arena.'
'In this project we aim at addressing mathematical and numerical methods based on virtual controls for the coupling of heterogeneous problems described by partial differential equations.
These problems arise in many practical applications. For example, whenever different phenomena have to be taken into account in two or more subregions of the computational domain, or when, for the description and simulation of complex physical phenomena, combinations of hierarchical mathematical models are set up with the aim of reducing the computational complexity.
In both cases, we have to study a multiphysics problem, i.e. a system of heterogeneous problems, where different kind of differential problems are defined in different subregions (either disjoint or overlapping) of the original computational domain.
Virtual control is a powerful technique based on the optimal control theory that has been introduced in domain decomposition method with overlapping subdomains to treat homogeneous problems, either elliptic and parabolic.
The basic idea of this approach consists in introducing suitable functions called ``virtual' controls which play the role of unknown boundary data on the interfaces of the decomposition and in minimizing in a suitable norm the difference between the solutions of the subproblems on the overlap.
In this project we aim at extending the virtual control method for a class of heterogeneous problems considering both analytical and computational aspects. In particular, we will characterize suitable functionals to be minimized on the overlapping regions in order to ensure both the well-posedness of the problem and a correct description of the physical phenomena of interest. Moreover, we will focus on the development of effective numerical methods and preconditioning techniques for the solution of the optimality systems arising from this approach.
Finally, we will consider several problems of practical interest to validate the methodology that we propose.'