The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) has recruited the researcher George Thomas, one of the leading international scientists in cancer and metabolic diseases.

Dr. Thomas’ research focuses on the metabolic processes that are behind human diseases, which has led him to similar findings in apparently different diseases such as cancer, diabetes and obesity.

George Thomas has been recognized by the scientific community as an innovative leader in the field of signal transduction and cell growth control, from his studies on the regulation of protein S6 kinase (S6K1). The group led by Dr. Thomas found that S6K1 is regulated by phosphorylation (the addition of a phosphate chemical group), which allowed to demonstrate key processes that occur within the cell associated with the generation of energy through nutrients.

Dr. Thomas, with his close collaborator Dr. Sara Kozma, who has also been incorporated into IDIBELL, has shown that S6K1 plays a key role in cell growth, energy balance and stem cell biology, processes that are altered in many diseases. In addition Professor Albert Tauler will move his laboratory from the UB to the IDIBELL to join forces with Drs Thomas and Kozma, bringing his expertise in genes, which induce cancer.

In recent studies, Drs Thomas and Kozma have shown that S6K1 is involved in insulin sensitivity and the formation of fat. These studies have revolutionized our understanding of signal transduction pathways and the processes that lead to the emergence of many diseases. The work of Dr. Thomas’ group has allowed the development of new cancer drugs currently, some being applied in the clinic and others being tested in clinical trials. These latter studies are being developed with Dr. Tauler.

For the American researcher, "the IDIBELL provides a big opportunity to move into clinical practice with advances developed in the laboratory." George Thomas highlights the potential of the Bellvitge environment, with two big hospitals, four university faculties, a research centre and facilities for biomedical companies in the biocluster Biopol'H.

Before reaching the IDIBELL, Dr. Thomas held the position of scientific director of the Institute of Metabolic Diseases at the University of Cincinnati where he held John and Gladys chair in Cancer Biology.

The arrival of Dr. Thomas to IDIBELL has allowed the institution to establish collaborative links with the University of Cincinnati.

The recruitment of George Thomas has been possible thanks to the funding of the Instituto de Salud Carlos III of the Spanish Government, through the centres accredited program for health research institutes.