I received my PhD from the University of Chile in 1998. I worked on the role of a new regulator of microtubule cytoskeleton during Drosophila embryogenesis under the direction of Dr. Ricardo Maccioni. During 1997-1998 I was a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at Laboratory of de Hormones and Cell Differentiation INSERM, Francia. I was appointed Assistant Professor at Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology (INTA) of University of Chile in 1999 and Associate Professor in 2003. In 2005, along with my colleague Dr. Mauricio González, we created the laboratory of Bioinformatics and Gene Expression (LBGE) at INTA. In the last 10 years, I have mentored 11 graduate students, all of them holding positions or carrying out postdoctoral researches in academic institutions, and 13 undergraduate students, most of them enrolled in graduate or postdoctoral programs in Chile or abroad. Until 2015, my research group was mainly investigating morphogenetic events that take place at early stages of D. melanogaster embryogenesis. By combining functional genomics strategies, analysis of gene expression patterns and gene perturbation assays, we identify important genes that have escaped detection in standard genetic screens and discovered a new set of signaling molecules that are developmentally relevant. This research line was supported by five Fondecyt grants since 1998. From 2002 to 2016, I participated as the scientific counterpart to technological projects, dealing with functional genomics analysis of post-harvest problems of export nectarines, seeking solutions to the intolerance of Atlantic salmon to feed containing a high proportion of vegetable oils and proteins and identifying Atlantic salmon families more resistant to infections with common fish pathogens. Most recently my interests have culminated in an applied research program dedicated to the study of the resistance mechanisms of Atlantic salmon to infections with Piscirickettsia salmonis and the analysis of the virulence mechanisms employed by this pathogen to successfully parasitize its host cells (Fondecyt 1160802 and 1211893). In this context, we have developed a highly specific system for the detection of the pathogen in samples of infected fish (patent CL 3575-2014) and strategies for monitoring and classification of strains and clinical isolates. As an associate researcher of the Fondap Genome Regulation Center (N° 15090007), I have actively participated in the study of microbial communities in the soils of the Atacama Desert and in the analysis of the plant-microbiome interactions that take place in this extreme environment. In 2018 along with three colleagues from University of Chile I founded the company Diagnofast SpA, a start-up of the University of Chile, which is oriented to the development and commercialization of kits and rapid diagnostic services for the detection and quantification of microorganisms relevant to the agricultural, veterinary and food industries.
Over the course of my career, I have been member of the “Biology 2” study section of Fondecyt and I am currently member of the “Health and Animal Production” study section. I have been Principal Investigator on Fondecyt (1980262, 101069, 1050235, 1090211, 1120254, 1160802, 1211893), Corfo (14IDL2-29912) and Copec-UC (2014.R.297) grants, Deputy director of Functional Genomics in Nectarines grant (G02P1001) and Principal Investigator on collaboration grants: Millennium Nuclei “Center for Genomics of the Cell” (ICM P06- 039), Industrial Consortiums AquaInnovo (206-5047) and BlueGenomics (12CTI-16839). I serve as associate editor of Biological research journal and as reviewer for professional journals: Sci. Rep., Frontiers Microbiology, J. Fish Dis., Pathogens, among others.
Other academic experiences include:
Head of Basic Nutrition department at INTA (2008-2010, 2013-2017, elected position), member of the INTA Council (2013- 2017), member of INTA qualification committee. Member of the Academic Committees of PhD Programs in Nutrition and Foods (2001-2006) and in Silvoagropecuary and Veterinary Sciences (2018-2020) at University of Chile.