ALC.jpg Aitziber L. Cortajarena

Education and Positions: B.S. Biochemistry, University of the Basque Country, Spain, 1997; Ph.D. Biochemistry University of the Basque Country, Spain 2002; Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University, 2002 – 2006; Associate Research Scientist, Yale University, 2006 – 2010; Junior Group Leader, IMDEA Nanoscience, Madrid, Spain, 2010 – 2015; Ikerbasque Research Professor, CIC biomaGUNE, San Sebastian, Spain 2016 – present.

Research Interests: Protein engineering. Application of protein engineering for the generation of protein-based functional hybrid structures and bioinspired materials.

Honors and Awards: Postdoctoral fellow award, Spanish Government 2002-2004; EMBO short term fellow 2006; Marie Curie fellow, 2010 – 2015; Women in Science Career Award, Ikerbasque Science Foundation, 2019. 

The Protein Society:  Active member since 2004.

Service: Editorial Board ACS Applied Biomaterials 2018-present; Executive Council, Chemical Biology Group at the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry 2019-present; Reviewer for the European Commission: ERC, COST, FET-OPEN and Marie Curie Programmes; External reviewer for international agencies: ANR (France), MRC (UK), FWO (Belgium), SNF (Switzerland); Management Committe, EU COST Action BM1405; Executive Committee, IMDEA-Nanociencia 2014-2015; Research Programme Committe CIC biomaGUNE 2018-present; Spanish State Research Agency, Member of Chemistry Evaluation Panel, 2015-present.

Vision Statement: Since I started my scientific career, the fundamental aspects of protein chemistry related to the still unsolved problem of protein folding and the challenge of protein design have attracted my scientific interest. I developed my career as protein chemist progressively from fundamental protein mechanism-of-action studies, protein folding, protein design, to the application of protein design to the generation of protein-based functional structures and materials. During these years it has always being clear to me the relevance of understanding the complexity and the beauty of proteins and the rules that drive the sequence-structure-function relationships in proteins. Therefore, nowadays that the protein-related research is becoming more and more multidisciplinary it is important to preserve a forum wherein the protein science community shares knowledge, exchanges ideas, and fosters collaborations.

As a protein scientist, I consider that the Protein Society, the Protein Society meeting, and the Protein Science journal are the roots and core of the protein chemists and the research we develop. The Annual Symposium of The Protein Society, to which I have regularly attended, has always been a great forum to get exposed to the latest advances in Protein Science and to communicate and get inspired by colleagues from diverse scientific backgrounds. Similarly, Protein Science journal should be supported and preserved as a reference journal in the field.

If elected as a member of the Executive Council, I will focus on continuing to grow the relevance of the Protein Society in the growing multidisciplinary international research landscape. I will work to preserve the Society as the reference space for protein scientists world-wide, regardless the focus of their protein-related research, from fundamental protein chemistry to the understanding of key biological problems and the development of new therapeutic approaches and technological advances based on proteins.

In this sense I believe it is key to keep current members engaged and attract the interest of the next generation of protein scientist, to grow a modern Society that represents the diversity of the protein science research. I would also work on making the Society a more inclusive and diverse space, promoting the participation of minorities and underrepresented members in the different activities that the Society sponsors.

As an European researcher that grew as a Protein chemist in the USA, I believe that it is important to make the Protein Society a more International society, to increase its visibility not only in Europe, but across the World and to build bridges with other societies.