Interview: Dr. Castro-Nallar

CBIB’s Assistant Professor Dr. Eduardo Castro-Nallar was interviewed by ChileGlobal, due to his remarkable work in the field of genomics and his conviction of the bright future of R&D for chilean scientists.

Source: ChileGlobal

After five years in the United States, where he completed a PhD in Biological Sciences, Chilean biochemist and entrepreneur Eduardo Castro-Nallar returned to Chile to be Assistant Professor at Universidad Andrés Bello, mainly because he has the conviction that in our country research and scientific development of first level can be done. We talked with him about scientific entrepreneurship, human capital and research.

Born in Santiago in 1981, Eduardo Castro-Nallar was the first one to approach science within the family, motivated by curiosity and the desire to learn. “When I went out of school I didn’t know what to do, so I got into a Bachelor of and Humanities in USACH, and since I liked biology I opted to take Biochemistry as a career,even though I did not know what it was, but I jumped”, says. After completing Biochemistry he wanted to go further, until he got to Utah, United States sponsored by Becas Chile, to obtain a PhD in Biological Sciences, a specialty which he later completed at George Washington University in DC.

Currently, Castro-Nallar is 100% dedicated to his activities as an Assistant Profesor at Universidad Andrés Bello, without leaving aside Andes Genomics, the company he founded when returned to our country, where he provides bioinformatic services, such as Gene Analysis and Genome Assembly to Chile, United States and Europe.

About how he came to United States, he tells us it wasn’t a simple road. “I graduated in 2007 and inmediately wanted to specialize, but I applied to a PhD program and wasn’t selected. I worked for two years in aquaculture diagnosing pathogens in salmons, until my boss told me about Becas Chile, I applied and got selected”, he recalls. This was how he first went to Brigham Young University in Utah to complete a PhD in Biology, but following his tutor, he requested a transfer to George Washington University, where he obtained a PhD in Biological Sciences, specializing in genomics, phylogenetics and infectious diseases.

“I’ve always had an interest in viruses and molecular ecology, understanding ecological processes through genomes and different molecules”, he says as to why he came to such a specific area of ​​biotechnology. An area that later led him to found the company Aperiomics, where he continues as scientific director, and the reason why he was awarded in mid-2016 by MIT Technology Review as one of the young innovators under 35 years.

Castro-Nallar recalls that the idea of ​​this venture arose when with his tutor created a software to analyze data of metagenomics with a new algorithm. It was because of this development that the National Science Foundation (similar as CONICYT) in the United States, that was looking for academics to bring this type of development to companies, opened a call in which they were selected. “It was a six-month project where in the first nine weeks my mentor, an industrial mentor and I, went to New York to entrepreneurial workshops with renowned exponents of biotechnology, where we also had the former chief financial officer of Apple”, he says. It was this experience that led them to found Aperiomics, with which they earned a million dollars in the first year.

Continue reading the interview here (spanish).

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