Dierssen Lab

Dierssen LabDierssen Lab

Systems and Synthetic Biology

Dierssen Lab
Cellular & Systems Neurobiology
Group leader

Dierssen Lab

Cellular & Systems Neurobiology
Group leader

1989 Ph.D. Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Universidad de Cantabria (Spain).
1990-1993 Postdoctoral work at the Universidad Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain).
1993-1997 Assistant Professor at the Universidad de Cantabria (Spain).
1997-2001 Research position. Medical and Molecular Genetics Center-Institut de Recerca Oncológica (IRO), Barcelona (Spain).
2001-Present Group Leader at the Center for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona (Spain).

Group news

UAB Social Council awards Mara Dierssen for her research in the field of Down Syndrome (18/12/2020)
Mara Dierssen awarded the “Optimistas Comprometidos” Prize (10/05/2018)
Mara Dierssen awarded the Big Vang Medal (16/06/2017)
Mara Dierssen receives the Trifermed award (09/06/2017)
Mara Dierssen elected president Trisomy 21 Society (11/11/2016)
Mara Dierssen Distinguished Alumni of the University of Cantabria (18/06/2015)

Facial development in Down syndrome and green tea extracts (04/03/2021)
The intake of green tea extracts potentially reduces facial dysmorphology in children with Down syndrome

International study finds increased mortality in adults with Down syndrome (22/02/2021)
Findings reiterate need to prioritise vaccinations for those with the genetic disorder

People with Down syndrome are genetically susceptible to COVID-19 (09/02/2021)
A study by researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) reveals the genetic factors that may expose or protect people with Down syndrome from SARS-CoV-2 infection, as well as the prognosis of COVID-19.

€1.97 million to develop a treatment for fragile X syndrome (01/12/2020)
The project brings together a multidisciplinary team with in-depth knowledge of intellectual disability 

Potential Down’s syndrome treatment may improve cognition through epigenetic activity in brain (29/09/2020)
CRG researchers describe some of the mechanisms underlying the potential beneficial effects of a new treatment

New therapeutic targets for treating memory impairment in Down syndrome (05/05/2020)

New research reveals how the genes in our brain change with what we eat (28/02/2019)
The study shows that small changes in the expression of many genes correlate with physical and behavioural changes in the mice

Major international project aims to identify causes of dementia (18/12/2018)
European scientists have launched a research programme, which aims to identify common causes of dementia in Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Down Syndrome.

Binge-eating mice reveal obesity clues (09/04/2018)
Mice fed on a high fat or chocolate-based diet show abnormal feeding behaviours such as snacking, bingeing and disrupted eating patterns, according to new research from scientists at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) in Barcelona, Spain. The findings of two studies published back-to-back in the journal Addiction Biology help to explain the behavioural triggers leading to obesity and point towards new ideas for preventing weight gain.

Dierssen lab publishes translational research discovering a pro-cognitive therapy for Down syndrome in Lancet Neurology (07/06/2016)
New research published in Lancet Neurology has found using a inhibitor of DYRK1A (dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated kinase DYRK1A), a serine/threonine kinase involved in brain plasticity, in combination with cognitive training improves some measures of cognition and behavior in subjects with Down syndrome.

Gene Linked to Down Syndrome Associated With Altered Oscillations in Cerebral Cortex (05/04/2016)
Scientists at the CRG and IDIBAPS in Barcelona, Spain, have made a first-ever identification of the alterations in the neuronal circuit that impact cerebral cortex physiology.

The Institució CERCA launches a video that walks you through several types of conversation in a mock evaluation panel that hinder objectivity towards candidates 
The CERCA centers diversity commission, chaired by Mara Dierssen has drawn up a pioneering tool to inform faculty, both men and women, that shows bias in evaluation, which is particularly detrimental to women.


The Dierssen lab is centered on understanding cognition and behavior and their perturbation in intellectual disability. Our main question is:

What are the changes in neuronal architecture and connectivity that disrupt cortical and hippocampal function, in genetic cognitive disorders? In other words, what is the multi-scale link from molecular alterations to impaired cognition and behavior?

We are an interdisciplinary team of physicists, bioinformaticians and experimental biologists, and we focus on data collection (behavior, 3D imaging, genomic data) of many variables of the system (longitudinal behavioral analysis, population based analysis in neuronal networks, gene expression patterns). We take advantage of computer modeling and bioinformatics analysis (gene networks, neuronal network modeling, etc.) to tackling classical unresolved questions in the field, such as: (a) pathological disturbances of structural optimality in single cell and neuronal networks, (b) genomic dependence of cognitive disturbances, (c) identification of predictive non-invasive biomarkers, (d) discovery of pro-cognitive therapies.

Other Activities

TEDxSantCugat - Mara Dierssen - La fuerza de la diferencia (in Spanish)
Brain Polyphony Concert 10 December 2016
Neuroscience Christmas Symposium 21 December 2016
International Master Degree in Neurosciences
TEDxSol - Mara Dierssen - Cómo podemos fabricar un entorno que cambie nuestro cerebro (in Spanish)

Funding acknowledgements

Title: Desarrollo de una terapia para el síndrome X Frágil 
Eligible total cost: 179.962,80 €
Period: 01/01/2020 to 31/12/2023
Ref.: RTC2019-007230-1
Funding agency: National Research Agency (Agencia Estatal de Investigación, AEI), from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Title: Obtaining antioxidant active ingredients from the carob pod and validation of its therapeutic potential
Eligible total cost: 156.174,70 €
Period: 01/09/2020 to 31/12/2023
Ref.: RTC2019-007329-1
Funding agency: National Research Agency (Agencia Estatal de Investigación, AEI), from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Title: Engramas de memoria en el síndrome de Down: alteraciones celulares y moleculares ("Chasing the memory engrams and underlying cellular and molecular alterations in Down syndrome")
Eligible total cost: 321.860 €
Period: 01/06/2020 to 31/05/2023
Ref.: PID2019-110755RB-I00 / AEI / 10.13039/501100011033
Funding agency: National Research Agency (Agencia Estatal de Investigación, AEI), from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

This project “Psych-STRATA - A Stratified Treatment Algorithm in Psychiatry: A program on stratified pharmacogenomics in severe mental illness” has received funding from the European Union’s HORIZON-HLTH-2021 program under grant agreement No 101057454.