FPdGi Awards

Biotechnologist César de la Fuente Núñez, FPdGi Scientific Research Award

The winner was chosen for his leadership and outstanding scientific work in the field of computational biology, which unites extraordinary scientific productivity with the capacity to transfer the technology developed.


> Scientist from A Coruña, César de la Fuente, heads up a research laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, USA) specialised in the creation of antibiotics using computers and naturally-occurring molecules which can attack increasingly drug-resistant bacteria. 

> In 2020, De la Fuente was named ‘Best young researcher in the USA’ by the American Chemical Society and in 2019 he was chosen as ‘one of the top ten innovators in the world under 35 in the life and health sciences’ by the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

César de la Fuente Núñez has won the 2021 Princess of Girona Foundation Scientific Research Award. The winner’s name was announced today during an event presided over by HM the King of Spain which reflected on the challenges facing science and the importance of mentoring to mobilise young talent in order to create change. The event, organised with the support of Aguas de Alicante, was held at Las Cigarreras Cultural Centre (Alicante), thanks to the collaboration of the local city council. The audience were able to follow the proceedings live on the Foundation’s website and YouTube channel.

A jury of experts, meeting this morning, praised the winner’s “leadership and outstanding scientific work in the field of computational biology, which unites extraordinary scientific productivity with the capacity to transfer the technology developed”. The jury also pointed out that “using computers to design new antibiotics has enormous social and industrial importance”.

In addition, they highlighted that the award winner “is one of the most important innovators in the world for his work digitising evolution to create better antibiotics and his efforts on behalf of socially underprivileged groups”.

The jury was chaired by the president of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Rosa Menéndez, and also composed of the scientific director of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), María Blasco; researcher at the Center for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases (CIMUS) and director of the Galician Foundation of Genomic Medicine, Ángel Carracedo; professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy at the University of Valencia, Adela Cortina; president of the COTEC Foundation, Cristina Garmendia; biologist Daniel Ramon Vidal; physicist and rector emeritus of the University of Luxembourg, Rolf Tarrach; physicist and founding director of the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), Lluís Torner; chemist and director of the Nanoelectrochemistry Group at the University of Copenhagen, María Escudero Escribano (2018 FPdGi Scientific Research Award), who also acted as secretary to the jury.

César de la Fuente Núñez is carrying out some of the most promising research to combat the menace of antibiotic-resistant super bacteria.

 César de la Fuente Núñez (A Coruña, 1986) is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania (USA) where he leads the Machine Biology Group, whose primary objective is to develop new antibiotics using computers.

He graduated in Biotechnology from the University of León and obtained his doctorate in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of British Columbia (Canada), with the help of a grant from the “la Caixa” Foundation. He has made research and study stays at world-renowned centres such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA, thanks to a grant awarded by the Ramón Areces Foundation.

No new antibiotics have been discovered for decades now and bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to the ones we currently have. Dr. de la Fuente Núñez’s research focuses on the use of computers to discover completely new classes of antibiotics that could save millions of lives. The results of his investigation have garnered numerous awards and honours, including among them the Langer Prize, the ACS Kavli Emerging Leader in chemistry, AIChE’s 35 Under 35 Award, the ACS Infectious Diseases Young Investigator Award, and the GEN Top 10 Under 40.

In 2019, César de la Fuente was recognised by MIT Technology Review as one of the most important innovators in the world for “digitising evolution to create better antibiotics”. He is the author of almost a hundred scientific articles. 

Biotechnologist César de la Fuente Núñez joins the ranks of FPdGi winners, which this year have also honoured the founder of the NGO NASCO Feeding Minds, Ousman Umar, in the Social category; veterinarian and writer María Sánchez Rodríguez with the Arts and Literature Award, and the founding partner of Goy Gentile Abogados, Lucía Goy Mastromiechele, with the Business Award.

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