The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded Modesto Orozco, researcher at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), an Advanced Grant within the category of Physical Sciences and Engineering, which received 917 applications from around Europe. This category commonly accounts for 45% of the total budget dedicated to Advanced Grants, which provide project funding typically in the range of between 2 and 3 million Euros over five years. These ERC grants have been operating since 2007 and aim to support internationally recognized scientists performing cutting-edge research in Europe. The projects awarded are characterized by having a strong multidisciplinary nature and innovative applications in emerging fields.
Modesto Orozco, brief CV
Dr. Modesto Orozco heads the Molecular Modelling and Bioinformatics group at IRB Barcelona. He is a senior professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Barcelona, director of the Life Sciences Department at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), director of the Joint IRB Barcelona/BSC Computational Biology Programme, and director of the Structural Biology node of the Instituto Nacional de Bioinformática (INB).
Dr. Orozco is a European leader in the simulation of biological systems and an international authority in the theoretical study of macromolecular systems, especially nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). During his career he has published more than 300 scientific articles and developed a series of computational programmes and algorithms that are used by the scientific community worldwide. His articles have received about 9,000 citations with an elevated impact factor, as reflected by a Hirsch index of 51, thus positioning him as one of the most visible chemists and computational biologists in the world. Dr. Orozco is an editor and editorial member of the most prestigious international scientific journals in his field of expertise. He has also served or is serving on several evaluation panels in Spain, Europe and the United States and he is an external consultant to a number of pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Orozco's research has been awarded various national and international prizes and receives funding from the Marcelino Botín Foundation.
The SimDNA project
The full name of Dr. Orozco's project is "Advanced multiscale simulation of DNA". SimDNA comprises three parts: the development of theoretical models and algorithms for computational simulations at several scales of resolution; the implementation of computational programmes; and the experimental validation of the predictions. The objective is to provide information about the structure and physical properties of nucleic acids and how these features explain the function of these molecules. Through SimDNA, the international scientific community will be provided with a series of computational tools that will unravel the behaviour of nucleic acids. The most direct application is in the field gene expression regulation and in epigenetics. In other words, the tools developed in the SimDNA project will allow scientists to fully understand the mechanisms that control gene expression.