EMBL Barcelona

Scientists at EMBL Barcelona explore how tissues and organs function and develop, in health and disease.

We combine a number of themes and approaches to achieve this:

  • The development and use of 3D in vitro models, (organoids, vascular systems, and others) where the dynamic structure and function of multicellular systems is more accessible to measurement and manipulation than in vivo.
  • Quantitative approaches and computational modelling, to create more a rigorous understanding and predictions of the dynamics of multicellular systems.
  • 3D and 4D mesoscopic imaging tailored towards tissues, organs and organoids. We develop and improve these state-of-the-art technologies, as well as using them for our research.
  • An engineering and synthetic philosophy, in which building and creating new biological models is a key part of understanding and controlling them.

Using these approaches, EMBL Barcelona studies a variety of multicellular questions:

  • Organogenesis – how a complex mammalian organ (the limb bud) develops, grows and organises itself during development.
  • Scaling – how dynamic patterning processes change their relative speeds and sizes, across different tissues and species.
  • Self-organisation – how collectives of cells spontaneously break-symmetry and cooperate to organise themselves into functional tissues.
  • Vasculogenesis – how blood vessels organise themselves into networks, and how this can be harnessed for improved tissue engineering and disease modelling.
  • Vascular diseases – how genetic or infectious diseases interact with vascular system to cause pathologies, such as malaria.


Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC)

The Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) is a leading-edge multidisciplinary research centre based in Barcelona that conducts excellent research at the frontiers of basic and life sciences linked with engineering to generate new knowledge and applications that helps to enhance health and quality of life.

IBEC create wealth by putting together biophysics, cell engineering, nanomedicine, biomaterials, tissue engineering and the applications of information technology to health.

IBEC is a non-profit-making foundation set up in 2005 by the Departments of Health and Innovation, Universities and Enterprise of the Government of Catalonia, the University of Barcelona and the Technical University of Catalonia.

At IBEC, frontier research is combined with specific transfer targets to produce new applied technologies to be used in life and health sciences. We have the versatility to generate excellent research and, at the same time, work with clinicians and industry to develop new diagnostic or treatment systems. The model envisaged by IBEC is inspired by a creative, innovative new ecosystem based on interaction between research experts in different enabling technologies (nano-bio-info-cogno) to generate new knowledge and engineering solutions in health technology.

The knowledge that exists in IBEC is placed at the service of science and society to progress in three major research programmes:

  • Bioengineering for future medicine, with the aim of developing technology that goes beyond the existing paradigm of medical care in hospital to incorporate new areas such as personalize medicine, tailoring diagnostic and therapies to the individual, optopharmacology, diagnosis and therapies based on mechanobiology and nanomedicine.
  • Bioengineering for active ageing, with the aim of developing care and technology and improve the quality of life of an increasing older population. Assisted living technologies such as mobile health solutions, including home-based devices and services for remote monitoring, consultation and diagnosis are developed..
  • Bioengineering for regenerative therapies, with the aim of developing regenerative technologies to allow the creation of implants able to bring about the regeneration of damaged tissues or organs and to develop cell therapies.