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Joaquin Arribas, PhD

Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology
Barcelona, Spain

Titles and Affiliations

Associate Professor, Department of Medicine and Life Sciences,
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Research Director, Consortium Mar Health Park of Barcelona and Hospital del Mar Institute of Medical Research
Director, Preclinical Research Program

Research area

Developing novel therapies that utilize the power of the immune system to treat breast cancer.


Normal cells respond to damage by halting cell division, putting the cells in a state of cellular senescence. Similarly, malignant cells will become senescent in response to some therapies. While senescent tumor cells no longer proliferate, they remain molecularly active and produce factors that promote aggressiveness in neighboring tumor cells. Dr. Arribas’ team is focused on developing novel strategies that redirect the immune system against senescent cells, thereby eradicating them and increasing the efficacy of breast cancer therapies.

Progress thus far

Dr. Arribas and his colleagues developed experimental models that helped to establish that cellular senescence can exert either anti- or pro-tumorigenic effects depending on the stage of the tumor and the immune cells present in the immediate tumor environment. In addition,  specifically depleting senescent cells has an anti-tumor effect. Preliminary studies indicate that senescent cells promote the anti-tumor immune response at early stages of tumor formation while inhibiting it at later stages. Dr. Arribas and his group have also identified candidate cell surface molecules (PD-L2 and LRRC15) that are overexpressed in senescent cells.

What’s next

Dr. Arribas and his team will continue to identify other cell surface molecules (in addition to PD-L2 and LRRC15) as candidates for the development of redirected immune cells. The molecule LRRC15 will be also used to develop antibodies. If successful, this novel strategy of targeting senescent cells with redirected immune constructs will help to expand the number of anti-tumor tools in our arsenal for treating breast cancer.


Dr. Joaquin Arribas is the Director of Preclinical Research Program at Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain, where he leads a group focused on the study of growth factors, growth factor receptors, and the proteases involved in remodeling the cell surface. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Translational Oncology, and CDB Protein Systems.

Dr. Arribas is member of the Spanish and American Societies of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and President of the Committee for the Evaluation of Cancer Research project at the Institute of Health Carlos III, a major public funding agency in Spain.

Dr. Arribas completed his undergraduate studies in biochemistry at the University of Madrid, where he subsequently worked on the regulation of the catalytic activities of the proteasome and received a PhD in biology in 1991. Sponsored by a fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, he joined Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York as a postdoctoral fellow to work with Dr. Joan Massague (1992-1996) on the proteolytic processing of transmembrane growth factors. In 1997, he joined the Oncology Department at Hospital Vall d’Hebron as a staff scientist and was promoted to lead the oncology research department in 2001. Dr. Arribas’s research has been recognized by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), which honored him with a Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award. Also, Dr. Arribas received the Beckman Coulter Award conferred on the Best Young Spanish Investigator in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Ulta Beauty Award

Areas of Focus

Treatment Tumor Biology