The second day of the Fundación Consejo España-EE.UU program began at the Instituto Química Médica, where we were split up into groups of two and met with researchers related to our specific fields of study. Alex and I spoke with Dr. María Isabel Rodriguez-Franco, who investigates and develops drugs for brain pathologies such as Alzheimer’s. I found her presentation and research particularly interesting because she designs new molecules and is literally the first step in an extremely long process that, perhaps ten to twenty years down the line, will lead to a drug being produced.

Staying in the same building, we next visited the Instituto Química Orgánica General where we heard from the Director, Sr. Junceda-García, and another of the institution’s researchers. What I enjoyed most about the presentations, and this really applies to all of the sites we visited, was how passionate and proud the researchers were of their work. Plus, it was quite an experience to listen to a presentation on organic chemistry, which for most of us is a foreign language in and of itself, in Spanish!

We ended the program at Pharma Mar, a small Spanish biopharmaceutical company that searches the depths of the world’s oceans to discover new marine specimens and develop innovative cancer treatments and drugs. We spent the majority of the presentation and tour with our jaws dropped, all of us in awe of this pioneering and totally inimitable company that is literally changing the landscape (… or should I say sea-scape) of cancer research. Overall, this program exposed us to some truly ground-breaking research taking place in Spain and got me excited about the prospect of future international collaboration as I prepare to embark on my career in medicine and clinical research.

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Erika Lampert

Fulbright Graduate Research Scholar

Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer

Duke University, Neuroscience B.S.