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ITQB NOVA congratulates two new PI’s Juan Ignacio Vílchez and Pedro Mateus

‘Nacho’ and Pedro will lead groups in the Plant Sciences and the Chemistry divisions.

Juan Ignacio Vílchez and Pedro Mateus are the two new Principal Investigators at ITQB NOVA. Vílchez will head the Plant-Microbiome Interactions group, in the Plant Sciences division, integrated into the Green-It research unit. The new Bio-oriented Supramolecular Chemistry group, in the Chemistry division, is led by Pedro Mateus and is integrated into MOSTMICRO-ITQB NOVA. With these new labs, ITQB NOVA reaches a total of 57 labs, carrying on its path as a reference institute in Life Sciences, Chemistry, and Associated Technologies for the benefit of Health and the Environment. 


Juan Ignacio Vílchez graduated in Environmental Sciences and obtained his MSc, in Research and Advances in Microbiology, in 2010, at the University of Granada (Spain). He did his PhD in Fundamental and Systems Biology, in 2016, with a thesis on the use of Xerotolerant Microbiota to Enhance the Plant Tolerance to Drought. During this period, he completed four internships, including at the Institute of Technology Carlow, (Ireland) and the Universität Bielefeld (Germany). During his post-doc at the Shanghai Center for Plant Stress Biology (China), ‘Nacho’, as he is known, led a project funded by Chinese NSFC Funding to study the epigenetic influence over root development and microbiota recruiting. He also received other two projects and prizes linked to PIFI program (Chinese Academy of Sciences). In 2020, he became an Auxiliary Researcher at ITQB NOVA, where he leads the Plant-Microbiome interaction (iPlantMicro) lab, and works with microbiome bioengineering, transference of microbiota to compensate stress effects on plants, epigenetic marks in plant-microbes interaction, root exudates recruiting models, vertical transmission and seed inheritance mechanisms for microbiota, and the coherent study of the plant-microbial beneficial interaction mechanisms.


Pedro Mateus completed his degree in Technological Chemistry in 2004, at FCUL, and his PhD in Chemistry at ITQB NOVA, in 2011. His doctoral work focused on anion recognition by macrobicyclic compounds. Soon after, he received a post-doctoral fellowship to develop metal complexes to bind carboxylates, amino acids and phosphates, also at ITQB NOVA. In 2015, he moved to the IECB (U. Bordeaux, France), as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie post-doctoral fellow to develop metallofoldamers for saccharide recognition. He also worked as a contracted researcher at FCT NOVA, developing photo-responsive self-assembled nanomaterials. In late 2021, he secured an Auxiliary Researcher position at ITQB NOVA, through the highly competitive CEEC Individual. Pedro will head the Bio-oriented Supramolecular Chemistry lab, which will explore supramolecular-based approaches to tackle problems at the interface of Chemistry and Biology. For that purpose, the lab will seek to develop new chemical entities to bind bio-relevant substrates (small molecules, peptides, proteins, and nucleic acids) to be used either as chemical probes or to interfere with pathologic biological processes.

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