Our team

We are a young and ambitious group with the goal of developing scientific projects that help improve the prognosis of cancer patients with brain metastases.

Manuel Valiente.

DVM / PhD · Principal Investigator

My lab develops projects to study cancer cells that metastasize to the brain. Our interest is to understand cancer, but also the brain's reaction to metastasis. We develop an integrated approach that allows studying several critical aspects of the biology with the ultimate goal of blocking the development and growth of brain metastases.

Cátia Monteiro.

PhD student

I have been interested in cancer research from early on. After finishing my degree in Biology I did a Master's thesis in prostate cancer. I completed my research stays working in the tumor microenvironment and the relationship between obesity and cancer. In the Brain Metastasis Group I am developing a new brain metastasis model that incorporated therapy. By studying this model I want to characterize how metastatic cells develop resistance.

Lucía Zhu.

PhD Student

Lucia was born in Valencia (1993). She obtained her bachelor degree in Biotechnology at Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Seville) with outstanding marks in June 2015. She was awarded with the scholarship “Atlanticus-Santander” that allowed her to move to South Carolina where she continued her studies (August-December, 2014) of her bachelor as well as trained in basic molecular techniques. In 2015, she travelled to Hamburg within the Erasmus+ Traineeship Programme to join the Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology...

Neibla Priego.


Neibla was born in Madrid (1987). When she finished her degree in Pharmacy (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, UCM) she decided to get to know the insights of Molecular Biology in more detail. While doing the Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biomedicine Master Degree at UCM, she started to work in the laboratory of Dr. Porras as a Master Thesis student. Her thesis was awarded with the best distinction. Neibla obtained a FPU fellowship to continue her PhD studies in the same laboratory...

Lourdes Osuna Almagro.

Lab Manager

Lourdes was born in Madrid. She has broad experience in basic and clinical research acquired over the years in positions held at various hospitals and research centers (Universidad Autonoma Madrid (2003-2004), Institute of Biomedicine of Valencia (2005-2006), Centro Principe Felipe, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (2008-2011)). Before joining CNIO, Lourdes worked as a research technician and lab manager at Imperial College London (2012-2017) where she did research on vascular biology and produced several papers...

Natalia Yebra.

Laboratory technician

Natalia was born in Alcalá de Henares (1997). She obtained a Degree of Nursing Assistant in 2015. She did an internship at Hospital Universitario Príncipe de Asturias. In order to improve her scientific knowledge, she then obtained a Degree on Pathology and Cytodiagnostics in 2017, which allowed her to join CNIO to practice the techniques learned. Nowadays, Natalia is working as a technician at the Brain Metastasis Group where she participates in several research projects.

Pedro García.

PhD student

Pedro was born in Valencia (1992). He obtained his bachelor degree in Biotechnology (2014) at the Universitat Politècnica de València. During this time he trained on various biological and molecular techniques during internships at Hospital General de Valencia and at the Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe. His Bachelor thesis, under the supervision of Dr. Knecht’s, produced a new diagnostic tool for a rare neurodegenerative disorder. Afterwards, he moved to Sweden to join the Master of Medical Science in Molecular Medicine at Uppsala University...

Wendy Bindeman.

Visiting Fulbright student

Wendy was born in the United States (1994). She is spending nine months in the Brain Metastasis Group as a recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Student Award, working on the role of reactive astrocytes in the growth and maintenance of brain metastases. Prior to joining the Brain Metastasis Group, Wendy graduated from St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minnesota, USA) with a B.A. in Biology (with distinction) and Spanish and a minor in Biomolecular Science. She completed several summer internships during her undergraduate career, including one at the University of Pittsburgh studying epigenetic regulation in ovarian cancer...

Past lab members


Manon Mulders:

Michiel Pegtel/ Rubina Baglio lab, Cancer Center Amsterdam, VU University MC


Cira Dorado:

Technician in practices, 2016. Current position: Undergraduate student, Nursing School. Universidad Pontificia de Comillas ICAI ICADE


Miguel Marín:

MD student in practices, 2015. Current position: Master of Medical Sciences in Immunology, Harvard Medical School.


David Wasilewski:

MD student in practices, 2015-2016. Current position: MD/ PhD student. Samuel Huber lab. University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.


Laura Doglio:

Lab Manager 2016-2017. Current position: Lab Manager. Beatriz Rico lab. Centre for Developmental Neurobiology. King´s College London.