Alex Yarritu

Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Biographical Sketch

Born in Barcelona (Spain), public health and human disease are global issues that drew Alex Yarritu's attention since he was a child. Therefore, during his high school studies, he pursued the scientific program with a special focus on biological sciences. It was then when he set his heart on studying a degree in nutrition and dietetics, as it combined different fascinating aspects of biology - including biochemistry, metabolism, physiology and metabolic disorders.

As a nutrition and dietetics student, he had the opportunity to scratch on the surface of the complexity of human physiology and more importantly, how environmental factors, such as food intake, can influence it. Moreover, he had a growing interest in metabolic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and obesity; but this degree did not provide enough insight into the pathophysiology and molecular and cellular mechanisms of these diseases but rather focused on their dietary aspects. Hence, he started to think about studying a master’s degree that could complement all his knowledge from a molecular perspective, helping him to understand in a better way how metabolic processes are altered in the context of human disease.

In light of the above, he decided to study for an MSc in biomedicine. This program not only offered an extensive curriculum in cellular and molecular biology but also in biomedical research, which allowed him to learn the methods and techniques used in this type of research and ignited his interest in biomedical research.

During his master’s degree, he had the chance to embark on a research project in the laboratory of Prof. Diego Haro and Prof. Joana Relat in the cell signaling department of the school of pharmacy at the University of Barcelona. The goal of his master thesis was to determine how amino acid restriction could affect the phenotype of mice, especially everything surrounding the growth factor FGF21. In his almost six months of internship, he learned all the procedures involved in mice, boosting his skills on it and making him start to like working with them. He also learned all the essential research techniques and improved his scientific writing skills. After this joyful and rewarding internship, he truly understood that his path had to be related to research.

It was then when, after a long way to go, he was accepted as a PhD student in one of the TrainCKDis projects in the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, in collaboration with the Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin (MDC).

One of his main research interests is to try to better understand the very metabolic nature of diseases related to cardiovascular or metabolic pathologies - and how it can affect its progression. On the CKD, there is a loss of kidney function often caused by abnormal metabolic syndromes. In recent years, it has been shown that the microbiota might play a vital role in the regulation and the development of a high number of diseases, including the CKD. How the microbiota could modulate CKD remains unknown, and that is precisely what he tries to elucidate.