Jesús Jiménez-Barbero
Jesús Jiménez-Barbero
ERC Advanced Grant Ikerbasque Research Professor
ERC Advanced Grant Ikerbasque Research Professor
Scientific Director Office & Chemical Glycobiology Lab
Address: Bizkaia Science and Technology Park, building 801A, Derio (Bizkaia)

Jesús Jiménez-Barbero obtained his BSc in Chemistry from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and continued his scientific pursuits by completing his PhD in Chemistry from UAM, working at CSIC, Spain. During that period, he also worked at CERMAV-CNRS (Grenoble, 1986). Following that, Dr. Jiménez-Barbero pursued postdoctoral studies at the University of Zurich in Switzerland (1987/88), the National Institute for Medical Research in the UK (1988), and Carnegie Mellon University in the USA (1990-92).

Before moving to CIC bioGUNE where he has led its recognition as Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence in 2017 and 2022, he was CSIC Research Professor at CIB-CSIC (2002-14). Previously, he was CSIC tenured scientist (1992-96) and senior research scientist (1996-2002). He was Visiting Professor at École Normale Supérieure, Paris (2004), Sorbonne (2009), Univ. Milano Bicocca (2009-12) and now at the University of the Basque Country since 2016.

From the management perspective, he was President of RSEQ (Royal Society of Chemistry of Spain, 2011-17), after serving before as Secretary General (2004-2011). He also was Head of the Chemistry Panel of the National Plan for Research of the Ministry of Science (2009-18). 

In 2014, he joined CIC bioGUNE as an Ikerbasque Research Professor and Scientific Director. His scientific focus lies in Chemical Biology, particularly exploring the molecular mechanisms underlying the recognition of various ligands, with a primary emphasis on glycans, by biological receptors associated with biomedical phenomena such as cancer and infectious diseases. His laboratory employs a comprehensive approach, including chemical synthesis, protein biochemistry, molecular biology, biophysics, molecular modeling, and structural biology techniques such as X-Ray crystallography and CryoEM, with a special emphasis on NMR spectroscopy.

Noteworthy contributions include systematic studies on glycan-lectin interactions, significantly advancing our understanding of glycan-mediated interactions in health and disease, documented in over 600 scientific publications and 300 invited and plenary lectures. Dr. Jiménez-Barbero has supervised several dozens of PhDs and postdocs, led multiple EU-funded and industry collaborations, and received the ERC AdG for his project RECGLYCANMR (2018-2024), which employs paramagnetic metals and NMR probes (19F, 13C) to scrutinize molecular recognition events in vitro and in-cell.

Awards & recognitions
These studies have been recognized with the National Prize of Research in Chemical Sciences & Technology in 2023, the International Whistler Award in Carbohydrate Chemistry in 2010, and the Gold Medal of RSEQ in 2018, among many others.

Latest Publications



The Chemical Glycobiology Lab is actively engaged in extensive multidisciplinary studies on diverse glycan-lectin systems related to health and disease. This collaborative research involves Senior (Jimenez-Barbero, Ardá, Ereño-Orbea, Unione) and Emerging Scientists (Gimeno), along with Specialists, Technicians, Postdoctoral associates, and Doctoral candidates.

Using a combination of diverse and synergic methodologies, including chemical synthesis, protein biochemistry and molecular biology, biophysics (ITC, BLI), molecular modelling, and structural biology (X-Ray crystallography and CryoEM), with special emphasis on NMR spectroscopy, the Chemical Glycobiology lab investigates the interactions of glycans related to immune responses, from cancer to bacterial and viral infections.

Indeed, glycans, prevalent on mammalian cells and in the extracellular matrix, collectively form the glycocalyx, impacting physical properties, regulating protein function, and acting as ligands for lectins. Dysregulation of glycosyltransferases results in tumor-associated carbohydrate antigens (TACAs), unique to tumor cells. While TACAs are recognized therapeutic targets, their low immunogenicity presents a challenge for T-cell-dependent immune responses crucial in cancer therapy. TACAs play a crucial role in modulating immune responses within the tumor microenvironment through interactions with lectins. Similar interactions are observed in bacterial and viral-mediated infectious events.

From the application side, the focus is on structure-based drug and vaccine design, collaborating with research groups and pharmaceutical companies worldwide, investigating lectin-glycan and antibody-glycan molecular recognition processes. Additionally, from the basic perspective, we explore the conformational properties of glycans, specially the glycosyl oxocarbenium cations, key intermediates in synthesis and cleavage, and examine the presentation and dynamic properties of glycans designed for specific geometrical shapes.

In parallel, the laboratory continuously develops cutting-edge NMR-based techniques. Special emphasis is placed on the use of stable isotopes (13C, 19F) to push the boundaries of NMR applications. These advancements are vital for understanding the pivotal roles of glycans in their interactions with receptors, influencing biological responses associated with health or disease.

Specific areas and research lines include:

  • • Interactions of glycans with galectins and C-type lectins, overseen by Dr. Ana Ardá.
  • • Recognition of sialic acids by Siglecs and their role as glyco-immune checkpoints, led by Dr. June Ereño-Orbea.
  • • Attachment of glycans to influenza virus proteins and other pathogens, investigating their impact on infections, directed by Dr. Luca Unione.
  • • Analysis of proteoglycans and the functional landscape of glycosylation in cancer, spearheaded by Dr. Ana Gimeno.
Latest Publications

Unraveling Molecular Recognition of Glycan Ligands by Siglec-9 via NMR Spectroscopy and Molecular Dynamics Modeling

Atxabal, U; Nycholat, C; Pröpster, JM; Fernández, A; Oyenarte, I; Lenza, MP; Franconetti, A; Soares, CO; Coelho, H; Marcelo, F; Schubert, M; Paulson, JC; Jiménez-Barbero, J; Ereño-Orbea, J;



Evolution of human H3N2 influenza virus receptor specificity has substantially expanded the receptor-binding domain site

Thompson, AJ; Wu, NC; Canales, A; Kikuchi, C; Zhu, XY; de Toro, BF; Cañada, FJ; Worth, C; Wang, SY; Mcbride, R; Peng, WJ; Nycholat, CM; Jiménez-Barbero, J; Wilson, IA; Paulson, JC;



Strategy for the Enzymatic Acylation of the Apple Flavonoid Phloretin Based on Prior α-Glucosylation

Gonzalez-Alfonso, JL; Alonso, C; Poveda, A; Ubiparip, Z; Ballesteros, AO; Desmet, T; Jiménez-Barbero, J; Coderch, L; Plou, FJ;



The impact of glycosylation on the structure, function, and interactions of CD14.

Quintana, Jon Imanol; Delgado, Sandra; Rabano, Miriam; Azkargorta, Mikel; Florencio-Zabaleta, Mirane; Unione, Luca; Vivanco, Maria dM; Elortza, Felix; Jimenez-Barbero, Jesus; Arda, Ana;



Krylov, Vadim B; Gomez-Redondo, Marcos; Solovev, Arsenii S; Yashunsky, Dmitry V; Brown, Alistair J P; Stappers, Mark H T; Gow, Neil A R; Arda, Ana; Jimenez-Barbero, Jesus; Nifantiev, Nikolay ...

Cell surface (Amsterdam, Netherlands)


Targeting the Spike: Repurposing Mithramycin and Dihydroergotamine to Block SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Stagnoli, S; Macari, G; Corsi, P; Capone, B; Vidaurrazaga, A; Ereño-Orbea, J; Ardá, A; Polticelli, F; Jiménez-Barbero, J; Abrescia, NGA; Coluzza, I;



Synthesis of a glycan hairpin

Fittolani, G; Tyrikos-Ergas, T; Poveda, A; Yu, Y; Yadav, N; Seeberger, PH; Jiménez-Barbero, J; Delbianco, M;



Total Synthesis and Structural Studies of Zwitterionic Bacteroides fragilis Polysaccharide A1 Fragments

Wang, Z; Poveda, A; Zhang, QJ; Unione, L; Overkleeft, HS; van der Marel, GA; Jesús, JB; Codée, JDC;



Structural insights into Siglec-15 reveal glycosylation dependency for its interaction with T cells through integrin CD11b

Lenza, MP; Egia-Mendikute, L; Antoñana-Vildosola, A; Soares, CO; Coelho, H; Corzana, F; Bosch, A; Manisha, P; Quintana, JI; Oyenarte, I; Unione, L; Moure, MJ; Azkargorta, M; Atxabal, U; Sobczak, ...



KR-12 Derivatives Endow Nanocellulose with Antibacterial and Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Role of Conjugation Chemistry

Blasi-Romero, A; Angström, M; Franconetti, A; Muhammad, T; Jiménez-Barbero, J; Göransson, U; Palo-Nieto, C; Ferraz, N;



Blood pH Analysis in Combination with Molecular Medical Tools in Relation to COVID-19 Symptoms

Siebert, HC; Eckert, T; Bhunia, A; Klatte, N; Mohri, M; Siebert, S; Kozarova, A; Hudson, JW; Zhang, RY; Zhang, N; Li, L; Gousias, K; Kanakis, D; Yan, MD; Jiménez-Barbero, J; Kozár, T; Nifantiev, ...



Molecular Recognition of Glycan-Bearing Glycomacromolecules Presented at Membrane Surfaces by Lectins: An NMR View

Lete, MG; Hoffmann, M; Schomann, N; Martínez-Castillo, A; Peccati, F; Konietzny, PB; Delgado, S; Snyder, NL; Jiménez-Oses, G; Abrescia, NGA; Ardá, A; Hartmann, L; Jiménez-Barbero, J;



SARS-CoV-2 Spike N-Terminal Domain Engages 9-O-Acetylated?2-8-Linked Sialic Acids

Tomris, I; Unione, L; Nguyen, L; Zaree, P; Bouwman, KM; Liu, L; Li, ZS; Fok, JA; Carrasco, MR; van der Woude, R; Kimpel, ALM; Linthorst, MW; Kilavuzoglu, SE; Verpalen, ECJM; Caniels, TG; Sanders, ...



Highly Diastereoselective Multicomponent Synthesis of Spirocyclopropyl Oxindoles Enabled by Rare-Earth Metal Salts

Tallarida, MA; Olivito, F; Navo, CD; Algieri, V; Jiritano, A; Costanzo, P; Poveda, A; Moure, MJ; Jiménez-Barbero, J; Maiuolo, L; Jiménez-Osés, G; De Nino, A;



Development of synthetic, self-adjuvanting, and self-assembling anticancer vaccines based on a minimal saponin adjuvant and the tumor-associated MUC1 antigen

Pifferi, C; Aguinagalde, L; Ruiz-de-Angulo, A; Sacristán, N; Baschirotto, PT; Poveda, A; Jiménez-Barbero, J; Anguita, J; Fernández-Tejada, A;



Biomimetic Tweezers for N-Glycans: Selective Recognition of the Core GlcNAc2 Disaccharide of the Sialylglycopeptide SGP

Milanesi, F; Unione, L; Ardá, A; Nativi, C; Jiménez-Barbero, J; Roelens, S; Francesconi, O;



New Glucosamine-Based TLR4 Agonists: Design, Synthesis, Mechanism of Action, and In Vivo Activity as Vaccine Adjuvants

Romerio, A; Gotri, N; Franco, AR; Artusa, V; Shaik, MM; Pasco, ST; Atxabal, U; Matamoros-Recio, A; Mínguez-Toral, M; Zalamea, JD; Franconetti, A; Abrescia, NGA; Jimenez-Barbero, J; Anguita, ...



Revealing the Specificity of Human H1 Influenza A Viruses to Complex N-Glycans

Canales, A; Sastre, J; Orduña, JM; Spruit, CM; Pérez-Castells, J; Domínguez, G; Bouwman, KM; van der Woude, R; Cañada, FJ; Nycholat, CM; Paulson, JC; Boons, GJ; Jiménez-Barbero, J; de Vries, ...



Exploring multivalent carbohydrate-protein interactions by NMR

Quintana, JI; Atxabal, U; Unione, L; Ardá, A; Jiménez-Barbero, J;



Structures of the Inhibitory Receptor Siglec-8 in Complex with a High-Affinity Sialoside Analogue and a Therapeutic Antibody

Lenza, MP; Atxabal, U; Nycholat, C; Oyenarte, I; Franconetti, A; Quintana, JI; Delgado, S; Núñez-Franco, R; Marroquin, CTG; Coelho, H; Unione, L; Jiménez-Oses, G; Marcelo, F; Schubert, M; Paulson, ...