Research Program. Precision Nutrition and
Cardiometabolic Health

Epigenetics of Lipid Metabolism Group

Group leader: Dr. Alberto Dávalos Herrera

Objectives: cardiometabolic diseases are the main causes of mortality in the world and excess in the diet is one of the main causes of these human diseases linked to our modern life-style. The objective is to understand how different non-coding RNAs regulate lipid metabolism during states of health and disease, developing new strategies, both pharmacological and dietetic, to modulate their function. Pharmacological or dietary modulation of the activity of non-coding RNAs that, ultimately, regulate the metabolism of lipids lead to the prevention or treatment of cardiometabolic diseases. The increasing prevalence of chronic diseases has prompted a strategic focus on prevention strategies. While Precision (personalized) Medicine strives to provide ‘the right therapeutic strategy for the right person at the right time’ a distinct approach is needed for disease prevention.

Epigenetics of Lipid Metabolism Group also focus on understanding lifestyle modification of the pigenome in order to try to personalize the health of individuals using epigenetics for the development of Precision Nutrition. This group works to generate new basic knowledge of how non-coding RNAs regulate the metabolism of lipids under physiological and pathological conditions. To find and evaluate minor dietary components for their ability to modulate the activity of non-coding RNAs associated with the metabolism of lipids.

To carry out collaborative projects with the food and pharmaceutical industry to test and develop new dietary supplements or functional foods based on solid scientific knowledge to prevent or treat a variety of lipid metabolism disorders. And, to incorporate the use non-coding RNAs data to develop Precision Nutrition. In this endeavor, the group actively collaborate with many international research groups located at the following institutions: CINVESTAV (Mérida, Mexico), URFJ (Rio de Janeiro, Brasil), IMSERM UMR1011 (Lille, France) and many other national research groups. 

Dr. Alberto Dávalos Herrera

Group leader of the Epigenetics of Lipid Metabolism Group

Dr. Alberto Dávalos holds a degree in Pharmacy and Biochemistry by San Marcos University (Lima) and a PhD in Pharmacy by Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Madrid). He has conducted postdoctoral research at the Hospital Ramón y Cajal (Madrid), at Yale University School of Medicine, (New Haven), and at New York University School of Medicine (New York). Dr. Dávalos’s research program focuses in identifying and characterizing new noncoding RNAs (miRNAs, lncRNAs and other type of regulatory RNAs) that regulate lipid metabolism and the effects of minor dietary components (micronutrients) on their expression.

Noncoding RNAs have been recognized as critical modulators of cardiovascular system in health and disease. He hopes to: (i) identify new therapeutic strategies through modulating noncoding RNAs levels by the diet or other lifestyle factors to treat dyslipidemia and to prevent atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases; and (ii) understand lifestyle modification of the epigenome and personalize the health of individuals using epigenetics (particularly noncoding RNAs) for the development of Precision Nutrition.

Phone: +34 91 727 81 00, ext. 206 


Aida Serra

Senior researcher and Head of Research Line in +Pec Proteomics

Dr. Aida Serra joined IMDEA Food Institute as senior researcher in June 2019 through the Talents Attraction plan of the Autonomous Community of Madrid. Dr. Serra has been researcher and fellow scholar at the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore from 2013 to 2019. Her research is based on the application of mass spectrometry technologies to clinical proteomics and at IMDEA Food her research lines focus on the investigation of extracellular vesicles from foods and lipids of the diet to fight dementia and neurodegen- erative conditions.


Visiting Researches

Visiting researches:
Flavia Brasil Spreafico
University of Rio de Janeiro


Diana Carolina Mantilla Escalante
Andrea del Saz Lara
Inés Ruiz Pérez


most relevant publications
  • Mantilla-Escalante DC, López de Las Hazas MC, Gil-Zamorano J, Del Pozo-Acebo L, Crespo MC, Martín-Hernández R, Del Saz A, Tomé-Carneiro J, Cardona F, Cornejo-Pareja I, García-Ruiz A, Briand O, Lasunción MA, Visioli F, Dávalos A. Postprandial Circulating miRNAs in Response to a Dietary Fat Challenge. Nutrients. 2019 Jun 13;11(6).
  • Spreafico F, Sales RC, Gil-Zamorano J, Medeiros PDC, Latasa MJ, Lima MR, de Souza SAL, Martin-Hernández R, Gómez-Coronado D, Iglesias-Gutierrez E, Mantilla-Escalante DC, das Graças Tavares do Carmo M, Dávalos A. Dietary supplementation with hybrid palm oil alters liver function in the common Marmoset. Sci Rep. 2018 Feb 9;8(1):2765.
  • de Gonzalo-Calvo D, Dávalos A, Fernández-Sanjurjo M, Amado-Rodríguez L, Díaz-Coto S, Tomás-Zapico C, Montero A, García-González Á, Llorente-Cortés V, Heras ME, Boraita Pérez A, Díaz-Martínez ÁE, Úbeda N, Iglesias-Gutiérrez E. Circulating microRNAs as emerging cardiac biomarkers responsive to acute exercise. Int J Cardiol. 2018 Aug 1;264:130-136.
  • Aganzo M, Montojo MT, López de Las Hazas MC, Martínez-Descals A, Ricote-Vila M, Sanz R, González-Peralta I, Martín-Hernández R, de Dios O, Garcés C, Galdón A, Lorenzo Ó, Tomás-Zapico C, Dávalos A, Vázquez C, González N. Customized Dietary Intervention Avoids Unintentional Weight Loss and Modulates Circulating miRNAs Footprint in Huntington's Disease. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2018 Dec;62(23):e1800619.
  • Serra A, Gallart-Palau X, Park JE, Lim GGY, Lim KL, Ho HH, Tam JP, Sze SK. Vascular Bed Molecular Profiling by Differential Systemic Decellularization In Vivo. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2018 Oct;38(10):2396-2409.
main research grants

Principal Investigator: Alberto Dávalos
Project Title: Precision nutrition and physical exercise as modulators of human epigenome in disorders of dietary excess (Nutri-Epigen)
Date: 2018-2019
Funded by: Agencia Estatal de Investigación. Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad (AGL2017 90623-REDT)


Principal Investigator: Alberto Dávalos
Project Title: Modulation of exosomes that transport miRNAs and lncRNAs for intercelular communication as therapeutic tool to treat dyslipidemia (ExoRNAs)
Date: 2017-2020
Funded by: Fundación Ramón Areces (CIVP18A38889)


Principal Investigator: Alberto Dávalos
Project Title: Therapeutic modulation of noncoding RNAs through dietary food bioactive compounds: impact on the physiophatological regulation of intestinal lipid metabolism (Intesti-nAhRuNg)
Date: 2017-2019
Funded by: Agencia Estatal de Investigación. Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad (AGL2016 78922-R)


Principal Investigator: Alberto Dávalos
Project Title: Search for new biomarkers for diagnosis and stratification of NAFLD/NASH: can circulating exosomal miRNAs play a role? (ExomiRNAsh)
Date: 2019-2021
Funded by: Gilead Sciences (GLD18/00143)


Principal Investigator: Anna P. Pierucci (INJC, UFRJ)
Project Title: Small open reading frames (smORF) as novel modulators of disorders of dietary excess (LIPMETIN-sURFing)
Date: 2018-2021
Funded by: European Commission Research Executive Agency (REA) (746435-H2020-MSCA-IF-2016)