Puerto Morales, en uno de sus laboratorios

Puerto Morales, a research professor at the Institute of Materials Science in Madrid (ICMM-CSIC), has been appointed as the new coordinator of the Nanomedicine Connection at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). "We have managed to give visibility to CSIC in the field of nanomedicine," says Morales, who has previously served as the second-in-command to Fernando Herranz, a scientist at the Institute of Medical Chemistry (IQM-CSIC).

The CSIC Connections (CSIC-HUBs) are networks of scientific and technical collaboration aimed at establishing long-term partnerships among CSIC staff working on specific priority topics, including nanomedicine. They emerged following the publication of White Papers, "when it was realized that CSIC had great potential in this field and that many institutes within CSIC were not even aware of each other," Morales points out.

"What we have done in the connection is to bring together CSIC research groups, assess our potential, and increase CSIC's visibility in this field," emphasizes Morales, highlighting the significant work accomplished in just over two years of operation. "We have 193 researchers involved, 60 research groups from 24 CSIC centers, and more groups are joining."

As an example of the achievements made during this time, Morales, who leads the Materials for Medicine and Biotechnology (MaMBIO) group, highlights that the Nanomed-CSIC Connection has become a strong international interlocutor, a role CSIC didn't have before: "The French Society of Nanomedicine (SFNANO) now contacts us directly," she mentions.

Ahead, there are many projects and a desire to continue the path, but also uncertainties: "For now, we have obtained an extension," comments Morales, noting that the conditions under which these connections can or cannot continue are still unknown. "It would be a shame if this didn't continue; a lot of work has been done," she acknowledges. "We have held meetings with multidisciplinary platforms, connections with other groups, assemblies..." Morales enumerates the work done over these years. "We also have JAE initiation scholarships for research in nanomedicine, student exchanges between connection groups, which allows us to share infrastructure," the researcher continues. But there's more: "Shared research projects are emerging, which strengthens us because we can apply for funding much more effectively."

All of this has, of course, been achieved thanks to the funding obtained in previous years. With this funding, for example, they have been able to hire a manager in addition to research personnel: "We coordinate thanks to someone who assists us; otherwise, as researchers, we can't do more. The connection is based on staying connected, and for that, you need someone," she argues. "I believe we have managed to showcase the power of CSIC in nanomedicine, and that is very powerful. I hope they trust us and allow us to continue working," she concludes.

-- Ángela R. Bonachera (Communication Office, ICMM-CSIC)