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Dr Raquel Boque Sastre

Dr Raquel Boque Sastre


School of Biosciences

+44 (0)29 2087 9980
5.01A, Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

My scientific interest is focused on understanding the important role that epigenetic mechanisms play in different diseases, especially mood disorders affecting pregnant women and cancer. These diseases may not look particularly related, but epigenetic deregulation plays a crucial role in all of them, and they have a significant social and economic impact in our society.

My research combines locus specific studies (targeting specific genes), using molecular and cell biology techniques, and genome wide studies, using cutting edge high throughput technology (‘omic’ research) and bioinformatic tools.

I am a Lecturer at the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University with a PhD in Biomedicine. My expertise is in molecular and cell biology, and in epigenetics.

I graduated in Biology in 2009 from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) and I did a Masters in Cell Biology and Cancer Cytogenetics at the same university (2010).

I obtained my PhD at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) (Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain) supervised by Dr Manel Esteller and Dr Sonia Guil (leading figures in the epigenetics and RNA fields respectively). In my thesis I aimed to elucidate the mechanisms involved in DNA methylation and the role of different types of noncoding RNAs which are deregulated in cancer, such as microRNAs (Davalos, et al., Oncogene, 2012). We identified a dynamic epigenetic control of the miR-200 family during epithelial to mesenchymal (EMT) and mesenchymal to epithelial transition (MET).  However, most of my work involved studying the role of the largely unknown long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), especially natural antisense transcripts in cancer, which led to the discovery of a new molecular mechanism (Boque-Sastre et al, PNAS, 2015). In this paper, we discovered a new molecular mechanism in which the previously unknown transcript VIM-AS1 regulates the important cancer-related gene VIM. Our results were the first example of R loop mediated enhancement of gene expression involving head-to-head antisense transcription at cancer related locus.

I defended my thesis in Biomedicine in 2015 at the University of Barcelona, and I continued in the same lab as a post-doctoral researcher focusing on describing this new mechanism in a genome-wide manner with bioinformatic and molecular tools (manuscript in preparation). I have also been working in the study of the molecular mechanism used by other noncoding antisense transcripts in cancer and their potential efficacy as a new therapeutic target (Oliveira-Mateos et al., Nat Comm, 2019).

In my second postdoc I wanted to expand the knowledge that I had acquired to study epigenetic processes in other fields, and in October 2017 I joined The Pregnancy Research Epigenetics Group lead by Prof. Rosalind John (Cardiff University, UK). I joined two mouse placental projects (Creeth et al., PLOS Biology, 2018; Tunster and Boque-Sastre et al., Front. Cell Dev. Biol., 2018).

In November 2019 I got a Lecturer position at Cardiff University (School of Biosciences). I am teaching undergraduate and graduate students in six different modules and I am a personal tutor for 2nd and 3rd year students. Currently my research is mainly focused on studying the human placental epigenetic signature of prenatal depression (using methylation arrays, RNA-seq technology and bioinformatics tools), and I am also working in a placenta mouse project using RNAscope technology.

Honours and awards

- 02/2019: Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Seal of Excellence.

- 11/2015: Maximum qualification for my PhD (Excellent Cum Laude).

- 06/ 2015: “Article of the month” award by SEBBM (Spanish Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology): “Head-to-head antisense transcription and R-loop formation promotes transcriptional activation”. Boque-Sastre R, Soler M, Oliveira-Mateos C, Portela A, Moutinho C, Sayols S, Villanueva A, Esteller M, Guil S. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 5;112(18):5785-90 (2015). (

Professional memberships

- Perinatal Mental Health Research (PMHR) at Cardiff University

- Pregnancy and Childhood Epigenetics (PACE) International consortium.







I am currently teaching undergraduate and graduate students in a wide range of subjects from Biomedical Sciences, Biological Sciences and Neurosciences BSc. I teach lectures and practical sessions, I assess coursework and tutorials, I contribute in marking and I am a personal tutor for year 2 and year 3 students. I am involved in six different modules and my current teaching includes:

Year 2:

- BI2332 - Concepts of DiseaseLectures covering a wide introduction to epigenetics, epigenetics marks or modifications, epigenetic diseases, X inactivation and imprinting diseases.

BI2XXX – Personal tutor

Year 3:

- BI3008 - Advanced Research Techniques: practical sessions and marking.

- BI3351 - Contemporary Topics in Disease: course works assessment, tutorial assessment and lectures focusing on methods and techniques for studying epigenetics, noncoding RNAs, new epigenetic modifications, epigenetic diseases and clinical epigenetics (epigenetic biomarkers and epidrugs).

BI3001- Biosciences Final Year Project: marking presentations and reports.

BI3451 - Neurobiology of Brain Disorders: course works assessment and tutorial assessment.

BI3XXX Personal Tutor

Year 4 – Integrated Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences

- BI4003 - Frontiers in Biosciences: formative and summative course work assessments.