iac visitor programme

Our new visitingresearchers at the CNIO, CNIC and IAC

Fundación Occident Visiting Researcher Programme

The international prestige of the Spanish Science Association, the quality of its programmes and projects and the successful results obtained attract visitors from the scientific community around the world.

Convinced of the importance of encouraging interaction in the field of research in order to contribute to the advancement of science, our Foundation collaborates with various scientific bodies, to which many renowned doctors attend as part of the Fundación Occident Visiting Researchers programme. 

This programme consists of inviting internationally renowned scientists to visit Spanish research centres with a view to consolidating the scientific relationship between the host research group and the researcher's own centre, as well as to promote new lines of action through novel scientific interests.

Through the programme, the Fundación Jesús Serra is now collaborating with many institutions with the purpose of fostering the exchange of knowledge and development. In 2009, we started a solid relationship with the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (National Cancer Research Centre) CNIO), which is, both nationally and internationally, a public institution of reference in research, diagnosis and cancer treatment; in 2013, with the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (National Centre for Cardiovascular Research), CNIC) in order to encourage the advancement of studies in the field of cardiology and its transfer to treating patients; and most recently, in 2014, we began collaborating with the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute) (IAC), a research centre with an international in scope with observatories in Tenerife and Gran Canaria.


The programme was held on 18/12/2024, together with the CNIC.

Dr Carlos Morillo

Dr Carlos A. Morillo is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, and a Senior Clinical Researcher at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of the University of Calgary, in Calgary, Canada. He held the position of Director of the Cardiology Division of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute, Cummings School of Medicine, University of Calgary, and Director of Cardiology for the Calgary & Southeast Alberta region, Alberta Health Services, between 2016 and 2022. He was the director of the cardiac arrhythmias and stimulation service, and the syncope unit at McMaster University from 2002-2014.

His main research areas involve the design of clinical studies on cardiac arrhythmias, syncope, and treating and managing Chagas disease. Morenillo has been interested in exploring the role of cardiac autonomic regulation and has published several studies that analyse the role of baroreflexes and sympathetic traffic in different clinical situations such as sudden death, stroke, neurocardiogenic syncope and Chagas cardiomyopathy. 


Dr Mark Hlatky

Dr Hlatky is a cardiologist and Professor of Health and Medicine Policies at the Stanford University School of Medicine. His main fields of research are clinical trials and clinical research methods.Dr Hlatky has participated in numerous large multi-centre randomised clinical trials, including studies on coronary revascularisation, the treatment of acute myocardial infarction, hormone therapy to prevent cardiovascular diseases in women, and the treatment of potentially fatal ventricular arrhythmias. He pioneered data collection on economic and quality of life results as part of randomised trials, which has become a standard tool in researching results. He has directed large research studies on coronary revascularisation, sudden cardiac death, implantable defibrillators, heart failure and coronary artery disease. He has also developed decision models to assess the effectiveness and profitability of a wide range of clinical strategies, such as the prevention of sudden cardiac death, the use of tests to guide the preventive treatment of heart diseases, the use of genetic tests in cardiovascular medicine, and the management of cardiac risk during non-cardiac surgery. His current research focuses on the effects of adverse events during pregnancy on women's long-term cardiovascular health.

Gonçalo Bernardes, new visiting researcher at the National Cancer Research Centre

Dr Gonçalo Bernardes is a Professor of Chemical Biology in Chemistry Department at the University of Cambridge. He is also the Director of the Unit of Chemical Biology and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at the Institute of Molecular Medicine (iMM) in Lisbon. His research focuses on the use of chemical principles to address new challenges in the study and fight against cancer.

Gonçalo Bernardes has received two grants from the European Research Council (ERC); in 2016, he received the Harrison-Meldola Memorial Award, and in 2018, the MedChemComm Emerging Researcher Lectureship, both presented by the United Kingdom's Royal Society of Chemistry; and in 2020 he received the International Chemical Biology Society Award.

After completing his doctorate in 2008 at the University of Oxford under the direction of Professor Ben Davis, Gonçalo undertook postdoctoral work in Germany at the Max-Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces with Professor Peter Seeberger, and in Switzerland at the ETH Zürich with Professor Dario Neri.

He later worked as a Group Leader at Alfama Lda in Portugal. He is also co-founder of Targ Tex, Lisbon, a company developing a highly-targeted therapy for the treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme, and Thunder Therapeutics, Cambridge, a spin-off that develops therapies based on Selective RNA degradation.


Hesam Sadek, new visiting researcher at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (National Centre for Cardiovascular Research, CNIC)

Dr Sadek is a physician and professor of cardiology, molecular biology and biophysics at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center, where he is the J. Fred Schoellkopf, Jr. Chair in Cardiology. Dr Sadek’s research focuses on mechanisms and therapies for heart failure, including heart regeneration and structural correction of genetic myocardiopathies.Dr Sadek's laboratory was the first to identify mechanisms of cardiomyocyte cell cycle regulation, and discover new methods to reawaken endogenous regenerative pathways in the adult mammalian. 

He has received numerous awards, including the Gilead Sciences Research Scholar in Cardiovascular Disease, the Douglas P. Zipes Distinguished Young Scientist Award, the American Heart Association Established Investigator Award, and he was elected a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. 

Dr Sadek is an Associate Editor of the journal Circulation, the world's leading journal on cardiovascular diseases. Dr Sadek's work has been published in the highest impact factor journals, such as Nature, Science, Cell and PNAS, among others. The Sadek Laboratory is funded by grants from the National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association and the Leducq Foundation Transatlantic Networks of Excellence Program.


Vanessa Hill and Santi Cassisi, new visiting researchers at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias

Dr Santi Cassisi is a world-renowned expert on stellar evolution and the main creator and maintainer of the widely used BaSTI (Bag of Stellar Tracks and Isochrones) stellar evolution library.

In 1993, Cassisi began his career at the Observatorio Astronómico de Meudon-París with a scholarship from the French Government's Ministry of Scientific Research. Subsequently, between 1995 and 1997, he completed his doctoral thesis in Physics at the University of L'Aquila.

Since 1998, Dr Cassisi has been a staff researcher at the INAF - Collurania Astronomical Observatory, also known as the Teramo Observatory, located in the Abruzzo region of central Italy. His main fields of research are theoretical stellar evolution and its application to the study of galactic and extragalactic stellar populations. In this field, he has published some 450 scientific papers, some 290 of which are reference publications, and two monographs for students and researchers.

Dr Vanessa Hill is Research Director at the CNRS, Laboratoire Lagrange, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, Nice, France.

Her main field of research is galactic archaeology, focused on the search for signs of the formation and evolution of our galaxy in the kinematics and chemistry of its star constituents; the search for extremely metal-poor stars (EMPS) in our galaxy and its satellites; and the chemical composition of EMPS to probe the nature of the first stars. 

Dr Hill is also interested in studying the evolution of small scale galaxies, such as dwarf galaxies and Magellanic Clouds, as well as the study of chemical abundances on the surface of stars to restrict stellar nucleosynthesis. Throughout her scientific career, she has written 191 publications in peer-reviewed articles, cited about 15700 times, and has presented 19 guest reviews at international conferences.