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Published: 2022-09-30 Updated: 2022-10-07, 11:50

Gabriel Torrens is one of the first with the Nobel laureate as a patron

NEWS Spanish Gabriel Torrens is one of the first postdoctoral fellows in the "Excellence by Choice" Postdoctoral Programme. The programme is managed by the Umeå Centre for Microbial Research (UCMR) and Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC), with Nobel laureate Emmanuelle Charpentier as patron for the programme.

Text: Ingrid Söderbergh

The university seems to be an avant-garde place, with a really solid infrastructure and quite useful platforms to carry out high-level scientific research.

Gabriel Torrens has joined  Professor Felipe Cava's group at the Department of Molecular Biology and MIMS at Umeå University. Gabriel´s research interests focus on bacterial cell wall biology, infection biology, transcriptomics, development of novel antimicrobial therapeutics and liquid chromatography techniques to increase the knowledge about antimicrobial resistance.

Tell us about your academic background!

“I have a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in microbiology and after my studies I was working in the field of antibiotic resistance and pathogenicity of bacterial infections at the University Hospital Son Espases, in Palma (Spain). My PhD – supervised by Dr. Carlos Juan and Dr. Antonio Oliver – focused on cell wall recycling in the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and its relationship with the induction of β-lactamases and virulence, highlighting the use of liquid chromatography techniques.”

“After my doctorate, I have participated in several projects including the study of functional membrane microdomains in Staphylococcus aureus to inhibit Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) antibiotic resistance.”

How did you end up working at Umeå University?

“I have always had a special interest in the study of the bacterial cell wall. Professor Felipe Cava’s group has an advanced level of knowledge in this field, and I find Umeå University to be an innovative place with a lot of potential, as it has a wide range of facilities to develop any idea. This is also coupled with my desire to develop my career outside my home country and to be able to learn new ways of working and get out of my comfort zone. On the other hand, I find Umeå a really fantastic place to live in, as I really enjoy being surrounded by nature and practice the winter sports that this city offers.”

What is your research focusing on?

“One of the proposed projects I am going to start with is about the characterization of novel signalling pathways in the process of biofilm dispersal during infection by the cholera bacteria Vibrio cholera. One of the main objectives would be to find tools to neutralize cholera transmission and provide new targets with therapeutic potential. I am also participating in a project to develop new strategies to combat MRSA by dissecting the molecular mechanisms underlying its resistance.”

What is challenging and rewarding respectively with being a researcher?

“It is clearly a vocational task. It is challenging because the competition is very high, publishing implies being a good technician, an excellent writer, and having very good ideas. Patience, self-confidence, and hard work are indispensable to continue on the path. However, that moment when you discover something that no one else on the planet knows, is truly magical. The generation of knowledge is indispensable for a prosperous society.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

“I would like to continue to develop my career as a senior post-doc and although I know it is really difficult the idea of becoming a principal investigator with my own group would be amazing.”

What are your first impressions of Umeå and Umeå University?

“The university seems to be an avant-garde place, with a really solid infrastructure and quite useful platforms to carry out high-level scientific research. The city is really beautiful both in winter and summer and I intend to enjoy everything it has to offer in every way.”

What do you like to do in your spare time?

“When I am not in the office, I love to do all kinds of sports and stay as active as possible. Also, I need to connect with nature frequently and I think Umeå can make that possible. I also like to enjoy gastronomy and snowy landscapes during the winter.”

Short facts about Gabriel:

Lives in: Umeå and comes from Mallorca
Me in three words: Stubborn, creative, independent
Interests: Microbiology, sports science, astronomy, psychology, philosophy, and traveling
Fascinating fact about microbiology: The extraordinary ability of bacteria to adapt to hostile environments
Reads: From fantasy and history books to social philosophies
Listens to: Rock, electronic, and alternative music
Unexpected talent: Have a good eye for photography
Miss from home: “Tombet” – a traditional vegetable dish from Mallorca
The first Swedish word I learnt: Fika!
Dreamed of becoming when I was a child: A lot of things went through my head, but I always thought it would be related to science

For more information, please contact:

Gabriel Torrens
Postdoctoral position