César de la Fuente, a Ph.D. graduate (2014) and Postdoctoral Fellow (2015) from the Hancock lab, has been awarded the 2021 CSM Thermo Fisher Scientific Award, which recognizes new researchers in the microbiological sciences!
“It is an honor, particularly given the caliber of individuals that have been previously recognized. I am truly humbled,” says de la Fuente. “This recognition means a lot to me, particularly in a year that has been dominated by a microbe, emphasizing the importance of microbiology research to improve our world.”
He also shares that his time at UBC was instrumental both personally and scientifically.
“The Microbiology and Immunology Department is world-class. My PI during my Ph.D. studies, Bob Hancock, always encouraged me to explore the unknown and ask questions. I always try to follow this advice.”
During his studies, his thesis was on “A broad-spectrum anti-biofilm peptide that targets a cellular stress response.” Now, de la Fuente works as a Presidential Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he leads the Machine Biology Group whose goal is to combine the power of machines and biology to better understand, prevent, and treat infectious diseases. Currently, they are developing and discovering antibiotics by means of computers and building low-cost diagnostics, which are motivated by the need to create prevention tools that are accessible.
“Antibiotic-resistant infections are predicted to kill 10 million people by 2050,” he says. “So, coming up with novel antibiotics is absolutely crucial. During the current pandemic, we have seen the incredible inequities our society faces. A cheap and rapid diagnostic could serve as a great tool for preventing the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, thus preventing outbreaks, hospitalizations, and many deaths.”
Keep up with César on Twitter at @delafuenteupenn