Idaira Pacheco-Fernández, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow

Development off a bioanalytical method suitable for the non-invasive diagnosis and monitoring of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Idaira Pacheco-Fernández, MSCA-IF postdoctoral fellow with the project M4Liver

I obtained my PhD in Chemistry with a specialization in Analytical Chemistry at Universidad de La Laguna (Spain) in 2021 under the supervision of Professor Pino. During the PhD thesis, I studied the design and use of ionic liquids and their derivatives in microextraction techniques for the development of more selective, sensitive and sustainable analytical methods. The targeted applications were mainly included within environmental and food analysis, with a focus on the determination of organic pollutants in water.

At the end of the PhD, I gained more interest on porous materials and started exploring the use of metal-organic frameworks in microextraction techniques. With the aim of improving my skills in the design and extraction mechanism of these materials, I pursued a postdoctoral position in the Materials Science field. I joined the group of Professor Furukawa at Kyoto University (Japan) as postdoctoral researcher with funding from the Japan Society for Promotion of Science and the Spanish Government. During this 2-years postdoc, I worked on the preparation of highly porous membranes using metal-organic polyhedra, metal-organic frameworks and following supramolecular chemistry strategies. The membranes showed selectivity and high capacity for the extraction of specific organic compounds, which were studied in detail to develop a microextraction analytical method for water analysis at trace-levels.

This multidisciplinary background represents a potential starting point to expand the strategies of Materials Science to solve challenging analytical applications, particularly in the clinical and medical fields where the complexity of the biological samples jeopardizes the analysis. Thus, I recently joined the group of Professor Santos at BME in UMCG as a MSCA-IF postdoctoral fellow with the project M4Liver. I aim to develop a bioanalytical method suitable for the non-invasive diagnosis and monitoring of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In contrast to the current strategies that rely on unreliable and expensive biopsies, the method hinges on the metabolomics profile of plasma samples. The project involves the design and use of metal-organic frameworks as the material to extract the target biomarkers, which will be synthesized by microfluidics and used in a microextraction technique. The use of micro-techniques in this project is essential to reach the sensitivity requirements by preconcentration and to ensure the reproducibility, scalability and sustainability of the procedure.

You can know more details about my MSCA project in the link below: