- Principal Research Scientist, MIT, Institute of Medical Engineering & Science
Dr. Balcells earned a Masters of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Institut Químic de Sarrià (1995) and in Chemistry from Ramon Llull University (1996), and a PhD in Macromolecular Chemistry from RWTH Aachen in 1999 as a fellow from La Caixa Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD). In June 1999 she joined the Harvard-MIT Biomedical Engineering Center as a postdoctoral fellow carried out pioneer work in tissue engineering of vessel-like structures. In 2006 Dr. Balcells became a MIT research scientist and profesora titular in Bioengineering at her alma mater, Institut Químic de Sarria (Ramon Llull University). Through her dual appointment at MIT and Institut Químic de Sarrià, Dr. Balcells has promoted innovative, highly productive research and educative exchanges between both institutions and countries. As a direct consequence of her work in extending MIT’s international opportunities for students and faculty she created the MIT-Spain Program. Each year the program provides 50 MIT students across schools and departments with internship opportunities in Spanish companies, universities and research centers. The program also awards seed funds to promote collaborative new research projects between MIT and Spanish faculty. In 2011, Spain’s government bestowed Dr. Balcells with the Cross of the Order of the Civil Merit for her contribution to establish a fruitful channel between MIT and her home country, Spain. Dr. Balcells is a passionate basic scientist who embraces working with physicians and clinicians as well as industry partners to accelerate the path of new technologies and therapies from bench to bed-site. She is also a motivated mentor and the projects she leads become the ideal venue to educate the next generation of engineers, biologists, material scientists, physicians, computer scientists and chemists who learn to work collaborative as the only way to solve today’s greatest challenges in health. Dr. Balcells is an entrepreneur and co-founded the Spanish start-up Regenear that utilizes chondrocytes from a small biopsy to regenerate cartilage for facial tissue regeneration. She also chairs the new MIT IDEA2 Global program, which provides mentoring and connections to biomedical innovators around the world to develop and realize their project ideas.
- PhD in Macromolecular Chemistry, RWTH Aachen, 1999
- MS in Chemistry, Ramon Llull University, 1996
- MS in Chemical Engineering, Institut Químic de Sarrià, 1995
- Chair of the MIT IDEA2 Global Program, 2016
- Reviewer for the Landsteiner Foundation for Blood Transfusion Research, 2015
- Accreditation as advanced researcher by Catalan quality of research agency (AQU), 2015
- Keynote speaker in award ceremony of La Caixa Fellowships, 2015
- Associate editor of Science Translational Medicine, 2013
- Member of the international advisory board, MIHealth Forum, 2012
- Official Cross of the Order of the Civil Merit by Spain´s Foreign Affair Minister for contributing to link research and education activities between MIT and Spain, 2011
- Spanish accreditation as researcher (2 research periods received the official accreditation, 1998-2003 and 2004- 2009), 2011
- Winner of the business plan competition organized by Caixa Manresa (Barcelona) for the project “Regenear – facial cartilage regeneration”, 2010
- Spain’s minister of economy and innovation (MINECO), grant reviewer, 2010
- Catalonia grant agency for university support (AGAUR), grant reviewer, 2009
- Member, American Physiological Society, 2002
- “Borchers-Plakette” to the best PhD in the field of study, RWTH Aachen, 1999
- Research fellow, La Caixa-DAAD (three years PhD scholarship), 1996
Dr. Balcells’ research group in tissue engineering has shown how endothelial cell states are critical to tissue response to injury, vascular and neurological. The concepts she has elaborated have already helped understand why microvascular disease is such an important element and exacerbent of neurologically dementing diseases. Dr. Balcells’ research bridges the cardiovascular and neuroscientific domains – closing the gap between computational predictions and animal models, through functional and signaling studies on endothelial and neighboring cells performed in a highly multidisciplinary fashion.
- F. Garcia-Polite, J. Martorell, P. Del Rey-Puech, P. Melgar-Lesmes, C. C. O’Brien, J. Roquer, A. Ois, A. Principe, E. R. Edelman, M. Balcells. “Pulsatility and high shear stress deteriorate barrier phenotype in brain microvascular endothelium.” J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 37.7 (2017): 2614-25.
- P. Melgar-Lesmes, M. Balcells, E. R. Edelman. “Implantation of healthy matrix-embedded endothelial cells rescues dysfunctional endothelium and ischaemic tissue in liver engraftment.” Gut 66.7 (2016): 1297-1305.
- P. Melgar-Lesmes, F. Garcia Polite, P. Del Rey-Puech, R. Rosas, J. L. Dreyfuss, E. Montell, J. Verges, E. R. Edelman, M. Balcells. “Treatment with chondroitin sulfate to modulate inflammation and atherogenesis in obesity.” Atherosclerosis 245 (2016): 82-7.
- M. Spatz, M. N. Wein, J. H. Gooi, Y. Qu, J. L. Garr, S. Liu, K. J. Barry, Y. Uda, F. Lai, C. Dedic, M. Balcells, H.M. Kronenberg, P. Babij, P, P. Divieti Pajevic. “The Wnt-inhibitor Sclerostin is Up-regulated by Mechanical Unloading in Osteocytes in-vitro.” J Biol Chem 290.27 (2015): 16744-58.
- S. Shivana, K. Kolandaivelu, S. Moshe, M. Belghasim, J. Schlezinger, M. Balcells, A. Zheng, J. Weinberg, J. Francis, M.P. Pollastri, E.R. Edelman, D.H. Sherr, V. C, Chitalia. “The aryl hydrocarbon receptor is a critical regulator of tissue factor stability and a novel anti-thrombotic target in uremia.” J Am Soc Nephrol 27.1 (2016): 189-201.
- J. Martorell, P. Santomá, K. Kolandaivelu, V.B. Kolachalama, P. Melgar-Lesmes, J.J. Molins, L. Garcia, E.R. Edelman, M. Balcells. “Extent of flow recirculation governs expression of atherosclerotic and thrombotic biomarkers in arterial bifurcations.” Cardiovasc Res 103.1 (2014): 37-46.
- E. Rosàs, P. Santomá, M. Duran-Frigola, B. Hernandez, M.C. Llinàs, R. Ruiz-González, S. Nonell, D. Sánchez-García, E.R. Edelman, M. Balcells. “Modifications of microvascular EC surface modulate phototoxicity of a porphycene anti-ICAM-1 immunoconjugate; therapeutic implications.” Langmuir 29.31 (2013): 9734-43.
- V. C. Chitalia, S. Shivanna, J., Martorell, M., Balcells, I. Bosch, K. Kolandaivelu, E. R. Edelman. “Uremic serum and solutes increase post-vascular interventional thrombotic risk through altered stability of smooth muscle cell tissue factor.” Circulation 127.3 (2013): 365-76.
- J. M. van Gils, B. Ramkhelawon, L. Fernandes, M.C. Stewart, L. Guo, T. Seibert, G.B. Menezes, D.C. Cara, C. Chow, T.B. Kinane, E.A. Fisher, M. Balcells, J. Alvarez-Leite, A. Lacy-Hulbert, K.J. Moore. “Endothelial expression of guidance cues in vessel wall homeostasis dysregulation under proatherosclerotic conditions.” Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 33.5 (2013): 911-9.
- J. Martorell, P. Santomá, JJ. Molins, AA. García-Granada, JA. Bea, ER. Edelman, M. Balcells. “Engineered arterial models to correlate blood flow to tissue biological response.” Ann N Y Acad Sci 1254.1 (2012): 51-56.
- M. Balcells, J. Martorell, C. Olivé, M. Santacana, V. Chitalia, A. Cardoso, E.R. Edelman. “Smooth muscle cells orchestrate the endothelial cell response to flow and injury.” Circulation 121.20 (2010): 2192-9.
- M. Balcells, M. Fernandez Suarez, M. Vazquez, E.R. Edelman.”Cells in fluidic environments are sensitive to flow frequency.” Journal Cell Physio 204.1 (2005): 329-35.
A full list of Dr. Balcells’ publications can be found on Pubmed.