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11 Feb | 2022

Gemma Salvadó receives a National Award for the best doctoral thesis on Diagnostic Imaging and Genomics from the QUAES Foundation

The thesis of Dra. Gemma Salvadó, entitled ‘Detection of early cerebral amyloid-ß deposition by PET imaging and its downstream effects’, has been recognized in the 2nd Edition of a National Award for the best doctoral thesis in Diagnosis based on Imaging and Genomics. Since 2021, the Chair of the QUAES Foundation at the Polytechnic University of Valencia has awarded the best thesis that integrates the diagnostic fields in Imaging and Genomics, thus promoting excellence in research based on the combination of these two areas with both potential in current research.

Gemma Salvadó joined the BBRC Neuroimaging Group in 2017 as a pre-doctoral researcher, where she collaborated until 2021. She is currently continuing her research on Alzheimer’s at Lund University (Sweden).


What does it mean to you to have received this award?

It is an honor to receive this recognition, for me, but also for all the people I have worked with over the years and who have helped me get here. In particular, I think it is also a recognition of the work done by my thesis supervisors, Dr. Juan Domingo Gispert and Dr. José Luis Molinuevo, for guiding me all this time. I can only say that I am very grateful to them and to everyone at the Barcelonabeta Brain Research Center for all these years that this journey has lasted. The prize is only a confirmation of the work well done by all parties.


Could you tell us what your thesis is about?

My thesis focuses on the early stages, or preclinical stages, of Alzheimer's disease. That’s why we’ve used the data provided to us by our ALFA study participants, and for which we’re so grateful. More specifically, I have researched different facets of a technical imaging technique called PET (positron emission tomography), with which we can observe if and how a protein called amyloid begins to accumulate, one of the causes of this disease. In our studies we have seen that this technique can be used in very early stages to be able to measure this amyloid accumulation both using measurement methods most used in research, such as quantification, as well as with more clinically targeted methods, such as visual assessment of the images. Once we saw how this incipient accumulation could be measured with this technique, we also observed how the accumulation of this protein, amyloid, was linked to other processes that pass to the brain, such as neuroinflammation, even in these initial stages. Finally, we focused on studying certain risk factors for the disease, such as age or some genetic component, and were able to show how they can modify this amyloid buildup in the brain.


How do you approach your new stage as a researcher? What are your plans for the future?

I am currently pursuing my research career at Lund University (Sweden), where I continue to work in Alzheimer’s research. I think it's a great opportunity to continue learning and growing as a researcher while working with other leading researchers in the field. And I hope that in a little while I can take all this knowledge home and keep doing research from here, but with more experience and collaborations.