Prof. Juan Pedro Martinez-Barbera trained as a veterinary surgeon (University of Cordoba, Spain) and obtained his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Cadiz (Spain) in 1995. His postdoctoral career started at Lund University (Sweden) in 1996, where he focused on the field of embryology. A year later, he moved to the National Institute for Medical Research (London, UK) to continue his interest on brain and pituitary development through the generation and analyses of several mouse models. In 2000, he moved to King’s College London as a senior postdoctoral researcher, where he consolidated his expertise on brain development and ES cell targeting technology. Finally, in 2003, he initiated his independent career at the Institute of Child Health (ICH; University College London, UK)
He is currently the Head of the Developmental Biology and Cancer Research Programme at Great Ormond Street ICH. His research aims to reveal the mechanisms underlying normal development and the pathology associated to the forebrain and pituitary gland in mice and humans with the ultimate goal of improving treatment and management of patients (e.g. Haston et al., Development 2017; Carreno et al., Development 2017). His more recent research has focused on childhood brain tumours, in particular paediatric craniopharyngioma (Gaston et al., PNAS 2011; Andoniadou et al., Acta Neuropathol. 2012; Andoniadou et al., Cell Stem Cell 2013). He leads the Childhood Craniopharyngioma Research Consortium, which has brought together a group of basic researchers and clinicians working on these tumours. Combining murine and human studies his research has advanced the understanding of the biology of these aggressive tumours and identified cellular senescence as a tumour-inducing mechanism (Apps et al., Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2016; Boult et al., Brain Pathol. 2017; Gonzalez-Meljem et al., Nat. Commun. 2017). Recent studies from his lab have provided a molecular rationale for the histological similarities between craniopharyngioma and tooth development, resulting in the identification of novel potential targetable pathways (Apps et al., Acta Neuropathol. 2018). Currently, these basic findings are being tested in small clinical studies in the patients.