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Dr. Maite Garcia Fernández de Barrena

Researcher. Principal Investigator. Hepatology Epigenetics. Tumor Solids Program.
Study of the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the progression of Chronic Liver Diseases and in Hepatic Tumors development. Identification of New Molecular Targets and Development of New Therapeutic Approaches.

Be part of: Cima Universidad de Navarra

Professional career

  • Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the University of La Rioja in 2003.
  • Ph.D. in Sciences from the University of Navarra in 2010.
  • Post-doctoral stay in the Department of Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA (2011-2014) in Dr. Fernandez-Zapico's group.
  • Since 2014, he has been part of Cima at the University of Navarra.
  • Specialized in researching epigenetic mechanisms involved in metabolic reprogramming, regeneration, fibrogenesis, and hepatic tumorigenesis.
  • Principal investigator of the Research Group in Epigenetic Hepatology within the Solid Tumors Program


Main field of research over the past 15 years based on the study of the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the progression of Chronic Liver Diseases and in Hepatic and Pancreatic tumor development.
Graduated in Chemistry with Honors and Summa Cum Laude in 2003.

PhD completed in 2010 at the University of Navarra (Spain), being hired as “junior investigator” by CIBERehd, focused on the analysis of molecular and cellular mechanisms of liver disease progression. 
Postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Fernandez-Zapico’s laboratory at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, USA, working on the characterization of epigenetic mechanisms regulating hepatic and pancreatic carcinogenesis. Appointed as Assistant Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in March 2014. 

Since May 2014, part of the Hepatology Department of CIMA. Awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship Contract from the EU, starting a new line of research as Principal Investigator based on the study of Epigenetic Mechanisms of liver disease. 

Ramon y Cajal Fellow granted by Agent of the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System in 2018. R3 – certificate as an established researcher.


  • Molecular mechanisms involved in the progression of Chronic Liver Disease and the development of Hepatic Tumors. 
  • Epigenetic processes implicated in all stages of liver disease and hepatobiliary oncogenesis: in vitro and in vivo models. 
  • Identification of new therapeutic targets based on epigenetic mechanisms and the development of novel pharmacological approaches.
  • Epigenetic strategies for sensitizing hepatobiliary tumors to chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
  • Mechanisms of chronic liver disease progression in the context of fatty liver and metabolic reprogramming.


As an educator

Project thesis direction (7, 3 defended) and undergraduate thesis completion (10), at the University of Navarra.

As a researcher

Main publications have primarily focused on the “Study of the Mechanisms Involved in Chronic Hepatopathies and Carcinogenesis”, mainly through the exploration of epigenetic mechanisms involved in the progression of liver tumors. 
  • Principal Investigator of the Epigenetic Hepatology Research Group. 
  • 75 indexed publications cited over 7,860 times. 73.8% (45 documents) of these publications are in the top 25% most cited documents worldwide. 
  • Participated in over 15 research projects, serving as the principal investigator in 8 of them. Notable projects include competitive funding from: the European Union (MSCA-IF, COST Action), the Ministry of Science and Innovation, the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the Spanish Association Against Cancer, the Government of Navarra, and private organizations. 
  • Conducted research projects in collaboration with companies such as Moderna Therapeutics, Iteos Therapeutics, Kintsugi Therapeutics, and Epizyme-Ipsen.
Imagen de un icono azul con un documento certificado.

Scientific organizations

  • Member of the CIBERehd CB06/04/0006 group (Hepatic and Digestive Oncology Program).
  • Member of the European Network for the Study of Cholangiocarcinoma (ENS-CCA).
  • Associate Editor of the journal Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology.
  • Member of evaluation panels for Spanish and international agencies.


  • Granted in the First Edition of Rising Star by AEEH, 2021.

Grants / Scholarships

  • 2018-    Ramon y Cajal Program, Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.
  • 2015-    “Marie Sklodowska-Curie European Individual Fellowships”, European Commission, H2020.
  • 2014-    Assistant Professor of Medicine, College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.
More information

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Latest scientific publications