• IQS Researcher Francesc Canalejo Wins a Grant from the Daniel Bravo Andreu Private Foundation

Thursday, 18 May, 2023

The Daniel Bravo Andreu Private Foundation has awarded Francesc Canalejo, a student in the IQS School of Engineering, a biomedical research grant to study at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for nine months.

A researcher with the Vascular Engineering and Applied Biomedicine Group, coordinated by Dr Jordi Martorell, and the Industrial Products Engineering Group, coordinated by Dr Andrés García, Canalejo focuses on the development of polymer stents for children affected by aortic coarctation. The Daniel Bravo Grant will enable the Polycoarct project to be supported in the laboratory led by Dr Mercedes Balcells at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science at MIT.

The aim is to design a polymeric stent that is adapted to the somatic growth of children with aortic coarctation that can be reabsorbed after fulfilling its function, thus reducing the need for further interventions.

Aortic coarctation is a narrowing of the aorta and usually occurs at birth. It is estimated that it is responsible for 5% of congenital heart defects and can be diagnosed in childhood and adulthood.

The treatment of aortic coarctation is performed by surgical intervention, angioplasty, or stent implantation. In the case of stents, complications that may arise shortly after implantation include device migration, embolization of the artery, plugging of the nearest blood vessels, and aortic dissection. Long-term complications include additional procedures to widen the implant, stenosis, device fracture, and aortic aneurysm.

“MIT's expertise in areas such as medical device biocompatibility, blood vessel reendothelialization, cell culture, and in vivo testing planning can help address the challenges of developing this innovative medical device for paediatric use,” states Dr Jordi Martorell.

“Dr Jordi Martorell and Dr Mercedes Balcells encouraged me to apply for the Daniel Bravo Scholarship to do this research at MIT, which will enable me to access cutting-edge technology, collaborate with leading researchers in the design and analysis of medical devices, and accelerate the development of the project,” notes Canalejo. Moreover, Canalejo appreciates that "it will be a predoctoral stay, which is required in order to earn the International Doctorate Mention."


The Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and the Sant Joan de Déu Research Institute have also earned grants


The Daniel Bravo Andreu Private Foundation has also awarded grants to Dr Pedro Luis Cepas at the Hospital Clínic Barcelona and Estefanía Martínez-Barrios with the Sant Joan de Déu Research Institute.

Dr Pedro Luis Cepas is a specialist in cardiology at the Hospital Clínic Barcelona and a researcher in the Atherosclerosis, Coronary Heart Disease, and Heart Failure Research Group. Dr Cepas will spend nine months at the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute (IUCPQ), a leading cardiology centre in Canada, to carry out the Multiparametric optimization of the left atrial appendage closure procedure in patients with atrial fibrillation.

Estefanía Martínez-Barrios is a PhD student in Molecular Biology, Biomedicine, and Health at the University of Girona and a researcher in the Cardiovascular Diseases in Development Research Group at the Sant Joan de Déu Research Institute. Martínez-Barrios will spend nine months at the Mayo Clinic in the United States for the research project Familial genetic diagnosis of malignant arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in children.