To be or not to be … a biophysicist? BPS Guest Blogger Andrea Catte

Before trying to answer the hamletic doubt of the title of my introductory post for the Biophysical Society thematic meeting, Liposomes, Exosomes, and Virosomes: From Modeling Complex Membrane Processes to Medical Diagnostics and Drug Delivery, that will be held in Ascona, Switzerland, from the 11th to the 16th of September 2016, I will try to write down few more or less professional things about me. The majority of the following lines are going to sound like an extended narcissistic excerpt from my cv, so if you want you can just look at the pictures.

ueaimg_4Initially, I received an experimental training in the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopic technique at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Cagliari, Italy, which is the capital town of Sardinia, the city of the sun and also my hometown. During my degree and PhD studies I performed many NMR experiments of DNA liquid crystals in the absence and in the presence of carcinogenic intercalating molecules and divalent metal ions under the supervision of prof. dr. Adolfo Lai, prof. dr. Mariano Casu and prof. dr. Flaminia Cesare Marincola. After spending one year of my PhD working in the Leiden Institute of Chemistry under the supervision of prof. dr. Jan Reedijk, prof dr. Johan van der Maarel and dr. Wim Jesse, and living in the beautiful city of Leiden, The Netherlands, I successfully defended my PhD thesis on the 19th of December 2003.

ueaimg_3

University of East Anglia

After my PhD defense I started applying for different postdoctoral positions all over the world; I eventually got a position to work for prof. Dr. Jere Segrest at the Atherosclerosis Research Unit of the Department of Medicine of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and I started living in the Magic City of Birmingham, United States of America, since May 2004. Fortunately, the vision of my first postdoc advisor was long enough to turn my experimental research project into a computational one. Thanks to my advisor at that time, prof. Dr. James Patterson, a fellow postdoc at that time, and a collaboration with prof. Dr. Steve Harvey at Georgia Institute of Technology, my career started being shaped as that of a biophysicist. At the end of the same year I became a member of the Biophysical Society and since then I have been doing research on biologically relevant macromolecular systems, from high density lipoproteins (HDL) to lipid bilayers and vesicles with and without proteins, using all atom (AA) and coarse grained (CG) molecular dynamics (MD) simulations.

ueaimg_1My long postdoctoral experience has also been enriched by a one month internship in the Molecular Dynamics Group of the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, under the supervision of prof. Dr. Siewert Jan Marrink. The time spent working in Marrink’s group has been followed by a fruitful collaboration and another two year postdoc spent doing research for prof. Dr. Mikko Karttunen and prof. Dr. Ilpo Vattulainen in the Biological Physics and Soft Matter Group at Tampere Univesity of Technology (TUT), and living in the city of two lakes and beautiful parks Tampere, Finland. Then, in January 2009 I came back to the US for a third and more than four year long postdoc in the same group of my first postdoctoral job. Since January 2014, I have been working as a senior post doctoral research associate (my 4th postdoc!) for prof. Dr. Vasily Oganesyan at the School of Chemistry of the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the lovely city of Norwich, United Kingdom.

Well, I think that the above is more than enough for an introduction about my professional involvement as a biophysicist or at least as a scientist, but if you really want to know more about my scientific career you can find more details in my semi-professional blog https://andrecatte.wordpress.com/. When I am not trying to build and simulate more or less sophisticated molecular models you can find me cycling, walking, doing some gardening (sometimes too much) in the allotment, cooking (sometimes too slowly), playing volleyball or beach volley, swimming, enjoying the sunshine and taking lots of pictures. As you might imagine I don’t do all these activities at the same time and I also have other interests :-). The pictures you see attached to this post were taken during my first year at UEA.ueaimg_5

Looking forward to attending this very interesting thematic meeting of the Biophysical Society! .. and now I should try to see if my first fabric poster fits into my hand luggage 🙂

Andrea Catte

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