Assoc. Prof. Dr. Juan M. Bolivar & Prof. Dr. Andrés R. Alcántara

Department of Chemistry in Pharmaceutical Sciences
Pharmacy Faculty,
Complutense University of Madrid (UCM)
Ciudad Universitaria
Plaza de Ramon y Cajal, s/n.
28040-Madrid, Spain

Prof. Alcántara
ORCID Profile
WEB Page
Personal LinkedIn

Dr. Juan M. Bolivar
ORCID Profile
Personal LinkedIn

Description of PI principally associated with DECADES

After a Ph.D. Thesis in Organic Chemistry at the University of Córdoba (Spain), Prof. Alcántara moved to the University of Kent at Canterbury (U.K.) for a post-doc stay (working contract as Visiting Research Fellow). After that, he got several non-permanent positions at the Department of Chemistry in Pharmaceutical Sciences (Pharmacy Faculty, Complutense University of Madrid) after which he became Assistant Professor in 1993, got his habilitation for Full Professor in 2012 and finally got this position in 2018. All his research line has been focused on Biotransformations and Applied Biocatalysis in Organic Chemistry; specifically, his main objective has been the preparation of enantiomerically pure compounds as chemical drug precursors, using mainly hydrolases and alcohol dehydrogenases. On the other hand, his work fits perfectly within Green Chemistry, since he has applied these biocatalysts mainly in sustainable bio-solvents, a very sustainable synergy. All this has led him to publish more than 130 scientific papers, reviews, monographs and book chapters (index h = 35 in Web of Science, h = 354 in Scopus and h = 40 in Google Scholar) and more than 100 communications to national and international Congresses. This has allowed him to receive 6 Research Positive Evaluations from the Spanish Ministry of Science (based on evaluations after 6-years periods), as well as 1 Positive Evaluation in Technology Transfer, mainly derived as a result of his participation in the creation of the Biotechnologically-Based Enterprises Incubator of the Scientific Park of Madrid (PCM). Also inside PCM, he was involved in the creation of the Biotransformations Unit.

Prof. Alcántara have participated in more than 30 competitive funded projects, contracts and research activities by different organizations, being the Principal Investigator in 8 of them. Currently, he is Co-Director of the Group TRANSBIOMAT (Research and Technology Transfer in Biotechnology and Applied Materials) involved in the recycling of waste materials for the production of commodities and fine chemicals. On the other hand, he is Executive Editor of the Journal “Biocatalysis and Biotransformation”, as well as Editor-in-Chief of the Section “Catalyst for Pharmaceuticals” inside Catalysts. Finally, he is Member of the Board Committee of ESAB (European Society of Applied Biocatalysis) and Head of its Sustainable Chemistry Working Group; nominated by ESAB, he is Member of SusChem Board (European Platform of Sustainable Chemistry).

Since March 2023 Juan M. Bolivar is an associate professor at the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering of the Complutense University of Madrid. After completing his studies in Chemical Engineering at the University of Granada, Juan M. Bolivar carried out his Ph.D. Thesis at the Institute of Catalysis from Spanish National Research Council in Madrid (2009). He has been a postdoctoral researcher and assistant professor at the Graz University of Technology (Austria) until 2019. In 2019 he joined as associate researcher the FQPIMA research group (“Físicoquimica de Proyectos Industriales y Mediambientales”) from Complutense University of Madrid granted by the ”Programa de Atracción de Talento de la Comunidad de Madrid”. His expertise lies in enzyme immobilization and stabilization, advanced design and characterization of heterogeneous biocatalysts; design of O2-dependent enzyme-catalyzed transformations, and development of immobilized-enzyme reactors. His current interest lies in the design and development of enzyme-catalyzed bioprocesses in the context of integrated biorefineries. In DECADES, he is the supervisor of PhD.09 and the leader of WP. PhD09 will be integrated into the environment of the FQPIMA research group. FQPIMA has a consolidated tradition in integrated biorefineries and it aims at the development of new processes and bioprocesses (both enzymatic and microbial processes); using tools such as analytical techniques; catalytic and biocatalytic synthesis and mathematical modeling.

Key Research Facilities, Infrastructure and Equipment

Research facilities inside TRANSBIOMAT include: Liquid chromatography (HPLC) with different detectors (UV/Visible, refractive index, light-scattering and Circular Dichroism); UV / Visible spectrophotometer; Fluorimeter; Capillary Viscometer; Atomizer; Automatic Electric Autoclave; Cylindrical jacketed reactor (5 liter ) with punch wrench; Ultra Turrax homogenizer; Thermoblock; Ultrafiltration cell; Milli Q water system;  Fluorescence microscope; Bio-Rad Model 680 microplate reader; Thermostatic bath; Rotavapor; Lyophilizer; Circular Dichroism spectropolarimeter. Fluorimeter (equipped with polarized fluorescence) PTI Fluorimeter with polarizers and Peltier for temperature control. Easylife Equipment for determination of fluorescence half-life. Stopped-flow Biological SFM-3 equipment for fast kinetic technique. On the other hand, the group has the possibility of using all the equipment included in the UCM Research Support Centres (see

The facilities at the department allow the development of new processes and bioprocesses (both enzymatic and microbial processes); using tools such as analytical techniques; catalytic and biocatalytic synthesis and mathematical modeling. This research is performed in four well-equipped laboratories, within the fields of biotechnology, environmental science, intensification of processes, and catalysis. The laboratories include equipment for carrying out all required steps of biocatalyst preparation and characterization and reactor development. Further complex analytical and processing research can be performed in the Central Services Facilities (CAIs) that the UCM offers its researchers.

TRANSBIOMAT Research Group encompasses a wide range of interests, with its main lines of research being:

  1. Natural Polymers. This line focuses on the use of sustainable solvents and enzymatic systems in the study of structure/properties/function relationship in chitosan and derivatives. To achieve this objective, we employ a panel of biophysical techniques that allow us to establish these relationships between structure, function, and biological activity.
  2. Development of new polymeric materials, mainly based on chitosan and its derivatives, including i) particulate systems for the encapsulation of molecules of interest (with applications in the pharmaceutical, food, or cosmetic industry), ii) green synthesis of silver nanoparticles assisted by polymers and the preparation of hybrid materials with antimicrobial and catalytic activity, iii) semi-solid formulations with applications in the dermocosmetic industry and iv) multifunctional materials based on chitosan and its derivatives as active ingredient delivery systems with different profiles (anti-tumor, antibiotics, neurotrophic agents).

Relevant Publications and/or Research / Innovation Product (from TRANSBIOMAT)

  • Aranaz, I. et al. 2023). Fast and sustained axonal growth by BDNF released from chitosan microspheres. Marine Drugs,21(2), 91.
  • Aranaz,I. et al. Evaluation of chitosan salt properties in the production of AgNPs materials with antibacterial activity, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, Volume 235, 2023, 123849,
  • Miele, M. et al. Biomass-derived Solvents. In Sustainable Organic Synthesis: Tools and Strategies, Protti, S., Palmieri, A., Eds.; The Royal Society of Chemistry: Croydon, UK, 2022; pp. 239-279.
  • de Gonzalo, G. et al. Biocatalysis for the asymmetric synthesis of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs): this time is for real. Expert Opin. Drug Discov. 2022, 1-13, https://10.1080/17460441.2022.2114453.
  • Alcántara, A.R. et al. Biocatalysis as Key to Sustainable Industrial Chemistry. ChemSusChem 2022, e202102709, https://10.1002/cssc.202102709.
  • Garcinuño, S. et al. Evaluating non-conventional chitosan sources for controlled release of risperidone. Polymers, 14(7), 1355.
  • Fernández-Villa, D. et al. (2022). Development of methotrexate complexes endowed with new biological properties envisioned for musculoskeletal regeneration in rheumatoid arthritis environments. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 23(17), 10054.
  • Rodriguez-Veiga, I. et al. (2022). Exploring Saduria entomon (crustacea isopoda) as a new source for chitin and chitosan isolation. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 23(24), 16125.

Relevant Publications and/or Research / Innovation Product from Juan M. Bolivar

  • Medina-Castillo, A.L., Ruzic, L., Nidetzky, B., Bolivar, J.M. Hydrophilic Nonwoven Nanofiber Membranes as Nanostructured Supports for Enzyme Immobilization (2022) ACS Applied Polymer Materials, 4 (8), pp. 6054-6066. DOI: 10.1021/acsapm.2c00863
  • Bolivar, J.M., Woodley, J.M., Fernandez-Lafuente, R. Is enzyme immobilization a mature discipline? Some critical considerations to capitalize on the benefits of immobilization. (2022) Chemical Society Reviews, 51 (15), pp. 6251-6290. DOI: 10.1039/d2cs00083k
  • Cardoso Marques, M.P., Lorente-Arevalo, A., Bolivar, J.M. Biocatalysis in Continuous-Flow Microfluidic Reactors. (2022) Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology, 179, pp. 211-246. DOI: 10.1007/10_2020_160
  • Alvarez-Gonzalez, C., Santos, V.E., Ladero, M., Bolivar, J.M. Immobilization-Stabilization of β-Glucosidase for Implementation of Intensified Hydrolysis of Cellobiose in Continuous Flow Reactors
  • (2022) Catalysts, 12 (1), art. no. 80, .DOI: 10.3390/catal12010080
  • Lorente-Arevalo, A., Ladero, M., Bolivar, J.M. Intensification of oxygen-dependent biotransformations catalyzed by immobilized enzymes. (2021) Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry, 32, art. no. 100544, . DOI: 10.1016/j.cogsc.2021.100544
  • Lorente-Arevalo, A., Ladero, M., Bolivar, J.M.Framework of the kinetic analysis of O2-dependent oxidative biocatalysts for reaction intensification (2021) Reaction Chemistry and Engineering, 6 (11), pp. 2058-2074. DOI: 10.1039/d1re00237f
  • Benítez-Mateos, A.I., Huber, C., Nidetzky, B., Bolivar, J.M., López-Gallego, F. Design of the Enzyme-Carrier Interface to Overcome the O2 and NADH Mass Transfer Limitations of an Immobilized Flavin Oxidase
  • (2020) ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 12 (50), pp. 56027-56038. DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c17568