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EAVI2020 Students in Focus: Narcís Saubi from Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR), Spain

Bookshelves with an old door in the middle and overlaid text: eavi2020 students in focus

Profile of Narcis Saubi

Hello everybody. I’m Narcís Saubi. I’m a chemist, and proud of it.  

Where I started 

I studied chemistry in Girona and specialized in Biochemistry at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. I performed a Masters in Biochemistry, and a research dissertation on Alcohol Dehydrogenase in rat’s eyes. Apparently, that subject wasn’t good enough to get a PhD grant.  

I left academia, and went to the veterinary vaccines industry (no, it’s not the dark side of science). I learnt a lot on viruses, vaccines, production methods, trials, challenges… It was real “from bench to farm-side” research. But after 13 years dealing with chickens, laying hens, pigs and cows, I was invited to leave. After an extensive mailing, the friend-of-a-friend option made the miracle: a friend of a friend, Dr Joan Joseph, was working on an HIV vaccine based on BCG, at the Hospital Clinic de Barcelona.  

During that period, the EAVI2020 project started. It was exciting to be part of it, even before EAVI2020 had been awarded a grant. And during these EAVI2020 years, I’ve seen that my knowledge before on vaccines was so tiny! But that’s the goodness of this project: a nice bunch of researchers, sharing their knowledge (large or small) to get an HIV vaccine.  

Where I am  

I’ve had the opportunity to attend most of PhD Courses held by EAVI2020, and, in these courses, learn from the best about glycan shields, SOSIP trimers, transmitted/founder viruses, broadly neutralizing antibodies, animal trials, industrial production. All you ever wanted to know about HIV vaccines but were afraid to ask. Sorry, the last part of the sentence is not true.  

In the EAVI2020 PhD Courses we’ve learnt to ask about and discuss any subject with our mentors and professors. I must mention that, thanks to these courses, we’ve met quite often with the other students and post-docs, and we have been able to build up an interesting network of collaborators and friends for future projects.  

Where I’m going  

It’s difficult to predict where the future will take me. I’d like to keep on working on the vaccine field, but where? I don’t know.  

Outside the lab 

When I’m not in the lab designing and developing vaccines, I’m at home developing one teenager boy and one pre-teenager girl. And when these two occupations exhaust my batteries, I lock myself in the kitchen. I love cooking. New recipes, new flavours, new influences. I’m not always successful. But it’s relaxing and rewarding when your family and friends enjoy it. 

To be part of the EAVI2020 is something I’ll always be proud of.  

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