Montoliu, Lluis


Lluis Montoliu

He was born in Barceloan (Spain, 1963), graduated in Biological Sciences (1986) and obtained his PhD in Molecular Genetics (1990) at the University of Barcelona. Currently, he is a Research Scientist of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and established his laboratory at the National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB), in Madrid (Spain) since 1997, after two postdoctoral periods in Heidelberg (German Cancer Research Center, 1991-1995) and Barcelona (Autonomous University of Barcelona, 1995-96). Since 2007 he was also appointed researcher at the Spanish Research Initiative on Rare Diseases (CIBERER-ISCIII) where he is now serving at its Steering Committee and chairs the Program on Neurosensory Pathology. He has been Honorary Professor at the Autonomous University of Madrid for 20 years (1998-2018), and, since 2007, is the Director of the Spanish node of the European Mouse Mutant Archive (EMMA/INFRAFRONTIER) Spanish node.

Including his PhD, from 1986, where he worked in plant molecular genetics, in maize, he has been always working on the genetic modification of organisms (GMOs). Since 1991 he has been working in several scientific projects within the field of animal transgenesis. At the CNB he leads a research team interested in basic science, to understand the mechanisms controlling gene expression and organization in mammalian genomes, and in applied science, generating animal models for the study of human rare diseases, such as albinism. He has contributed significantly to animal transgenesis methods developing artificial chromosome transgenesis. He has also pioneered the use and dissemination of gene-editing CRISPR approaches in Spain for the functional analysis, in vivo, of regulatory elements found in the non-coding genome. He has published more than 100 scientific articles and co-invented several patents in the field.

He is the current President of the European Society for Pigment Cell Research (ESPCR) and serves at the boards of additional societies (SEG, IFPCS, IMGS, ACB). In 2006, he founded the International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT) for which he has served as President since inception to 2014. He is a member of the CSIC Ethics Committee and the Ethics Panel of ERC in Brussels. In addition to research, he is also interested in bioethics, education and popular science. He has published three popular science books in Spanish, two on albinism and one on genome editing techniques:  “¿Qué es el albinismo? ALBA, 2018; “¿Qué sabemos de…? El albinismo” Catarata/CSIC, 2019; and “Editando genes: recorta, pega y colorea. Las maravillosas herramientas CRISPR” Next Door Publishers, 2019.

In 2018 he has received the ISTT Prize, for his outstanding contributions to animal transgenesis; the Honor Plaque from the Association of Spanish Scientists (ACE), for his research contributions of international relevance in the field of gene expression regulation, for the development of animal models of rare diseases, and also for his activities on popular science, highlighting his close contact with patients and transparency initiatives on the use of laboratory animals; and the SINCronizados Award by the Agencia SINC for his commitment with popular science and collaboration with journalists and media.