Synthetic Biologist Named Penn Presidential Professor

César de la Fuente, PhD, recognized by University of Pennsylvania President for his biomedical, biotechnological and engineering research


Newswise — PHILADELPHIA - César de la Fuente, PhD, has joined the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania as a Presidential Assistant Professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Microbiology, in addition to the department of Bioengineering at Penn. His research combines techniques from protein design, engineering, computational biology, and microbiology to harness an array of biological systems to fight infectious diseases and mental illness. De la Fuente’s current work investigates merging concepts from synthetic biology and computational biology to create artificial antibiotics.

As a new Penn faculty member, de la Fuente is leading the Machine Biology Group, which aims to create the first computer-made tools and medicines for discovering solutions to some of the most pressing clinical challenges we face. For example, his work will continue to engineer biological systems such as tiny proteins to address a range of global health problems like antibiotic resistance. His new lab at Penn will also develop tools for investigating the new field of synthetic neuromicrobiology, an area which deals with how microbes communicate with the brain to regulate physiology, behavior, and mental health.

De la Fuente received his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from The University of British Columbia and most recently served as a postdoctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), working on synthetic biology and computer science. He is the recipient of several major grants and fellowships, and was recently named one of MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35 and one of the top 10 emerging professionals in his field under the age of 40 by GEN. In 2018, de la Fuente was also named a "Wunderkind” by the life sciences publication STAT.

The Presidential Professorships are five-year term chairs, awarded by University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann to outstanding scholars, whose appointments to the standing faculty are approved by the Provost and who demonstrably contribute excellence and diversity to Penn’s inclusive community.

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Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $7.8 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $425 million awarded in the 2018 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center—which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report—Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Home Care and Hospice Services, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 40,000 people. The organization also has alliances with top community health systems across both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, creating more options for patients no matter where they live.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2018, Penn Medicine provided more than $525 million to benefit our community.

 


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