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On the passing of Alexandros Athanasiadis

ITQB NOVA and its MX Unit mourns the loss of a brilliant and kind colleague at IGC

The news of the recent passing of Dr. Alexandros (Alekos) Athanasiadis came as a shock to the members of ITQB NOVA and its Macromolecular Crystallography Unit.

Alekos was a brilliant Structural Biologist with a keen research interest in DNA, RNA and DNA-binding proteins. During his stay at Professor Alexander Rich’s Lab at the MIT, he became the mentor of one our PhD students, Diana Plácido, during her internship as a Visiting Scholar from 2001 to 2003, integrated in the Portugal-MIT programme. This collaboration resulted in the first crystal structure of a Z-RNA in near-physiological conditions.

After leaving the MIT, Alekos decided to move to Portugal, where he integrated the ITQB MX Unit for a short period until he became group leader at the IGC with a Marie Curie Fellowship. Here, and within his collaboration with ITQB NOVA he worked on the Toll-Like receptors (António Coutinho and Maria Arménia Carrondo) and Z-DNA AND Z-RNA projects (FCT project, PI Maria Arménia Carrondo). This last one resulted in a PNAS publication.

Later he formed his own group at IGC, but kept a close relationship with ITQB NOVA and the MX Unit. He generously offered advice and insights to the younger members of the Unit. He also integrated the Portuguese Macromolecular Crystallography BAG at the ESRF as a PI, and made a significant contribution to the success of this BAG, through high-profile publications resulting from the work of his group at IGC. It is also worth mentioning that one of our recent PhD graduates, Sónia Zacarias, did her MSc thesis with Alekos at IGC.

The ITQB NOVA and its MX Unit members wish to express their deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Alekos, in particular to Maria Rizou, his partner. We shall miss him deeply.

Maria Arménia Carrondo and Pedro Matias

MX Unit

See also: Eulogy of Alexander Athanasiadis, by Maria Arménia Carrondo and António Coutinho

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