About Cesar

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César de la Fuente, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Associate & Areces Foundation Junior Fellow at MIT working with Prof. Timothy K. Lu.

Earlier in his career, César completed postdoctoral research with Prof. Robert E.W. Hancock at the University of British Columbia, where he also received his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology.

Dr. de la Fuente’s scientific discoveries with collaborators across the world have resulted in over 40 peer-reviewed publications to date. He is first inventor and co-inventor of multiple patents and has consistently been awarded independent funding, including a prestigious doctoral “la Caixa” Foundation Fellowship awarded by the King and Queen of Spain, and a Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by the Ramon Areces Foundation. Several technologies that Dr. de la Fuente has helped develop are currently under development, and one has been licensed.

Dr. de la Fuente’s work has been recognized by NPR Science Friday, Science, Nature Reviews, Popular Science, MIT News, El País, and by El Mundo.

César is a recipient of numerous awards, including most recently being recognized by MIT Technology Review as an “Innovator Under 35” and being named “Boston Latino 30 Under 30”. His research focuses on addressing some of the main global health challenges of our time (e.g., antibiotic resistance, microbiome engineering) by using a convergence science approach at the intersection between synthetic biology and computational biology, which merges principles and tools from peptide design and engineering, synthetic biology, microbiology, nanotechnology, bioengineering, and computational biology.




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Synthetic and Computational Peptide Engineering

Our research focuses on the design of novel synthetic peptide molecules using principles inspired by synthetic biology, computational biology, and microbiology. Our current application areas include infectious diseases, antibiotic resistance, the microbiome, biomaterials and nanotechnology.

In particular, we focus on redesigning tiny proteins called peptides, which are the workhorses of life, and a source of biologically active molecules with under-explored therapeutic potential. The 20 natural amino acids that make up these molecules offer an almost unlimited number of combinations unparalleled by other polymers such as DNA (20n; n being the number of amino acids present in any given peptide chain). Many other non-canonical residues can also be incorporated into peptide chains via peptide design approaches. In addition, peptides are promising drugs because their primary amino acid sequences can be easily tuned to achieve specific biological functions inside living cells.

Despite their promise, peptide-based therapeutics have largely remained unexplored due to the limited diversity of naturally occurring peptide scaffolds, their cost, and a lack of methods to design them rationally. Using principles from peptide engineering, synthetic biology and computational biology, we investigate how simple nanopeptides may be exploited and rationally designed for a range of medical applications. In addition, we aim to build completely new protein/peptide structures not known to the biological world, and biomaterials for applications in synthetic biology, biotechnology and medicine.


César’s research projects have been funded by


cropped-mit_logo1.pngArecesLa Caixa

Protein image source: http://www.camp.bicnirrh.res.in/img/strudb.gif


Oct 2015-Present
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
Postdoctoral Associate & Areces Foundation Junior Fellow, Timothy K. Lu Laboratory

Nov 2014 – Sep 2015
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Robert E. W. Hancock Laboratory

Nov 2014
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
PhD, Microbiology and Immunology, Robert E. W. Hancock Laboratory

Jul 2009
University of León, León
BSc, MSc in Biotechnology


Independent reviewer for >30 international peer-reviewed journals, including:

Chemistry & Biology (Cell Press; now Cell Chemical Biology), Nature Frontiers – Microbiology, Nature Scientific Reports, Nature – Biofilms and Microbiomes, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Applied Environmental Microbiology, The FASEB Journal, Biotechnology Advances, Evolutionary Applications, Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, Journal of Medical Microbiology, Eurosurveillance, Virulence, Antibiotics (Basel), Drug Design, Development and Therapy, Marine Drugs, Molecules, International Journal of Peptide Research and Therapeutics, Chemical Biology & Drug Design, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, Microorganisms.


Editorial Positions

2015-today   Nature Frontiers – Microbiology. Review Editor. Member of the Editorial Board.

2015-today   Drug Design, Development and Therapy. Consulting Editor.

Awards + Honors

2017 Elected Judge. MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Europe

MIT Innovators Under 35

2017 Semifinalist. 2017 MIT $100k Launch Competition

MIT 100k

2017 Selected as ACS Nano Junior Fellow.

More information can be found in the ACS Nano editorial for April 2017: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acsnano.7b02616


ACS Nano



2016 MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 35 (Spain)

MIT Innovators Under 35

2016 30 Under 30 Latino Boston

30 under 30

2016 Harvard Medical School Ruth & William A. Silen Award for Microbiology, Immunology, Genetics or Molecular Biology


2015 Recipient of “Ramón Areces” Postdoctoral Fellowship ($80,000)


2015 University of British Columbia PI grant


2014 University of British Columbia Robert Emmanuel & Mary Day Endowment Award


2014 University of British Columbia Travel Grant


2014 Gordon Research Conference Travel Award


2012 Selected as “la Caixa” Fellow, awarded by the King and Queen of Spain ($65,000)

La Caixa

2012 University of British Columbia Robert Emmanuel & Mary Day Endowment Award


2012 American Society for Microbiology Travel Grant


News + Events

Upcoming Talks

August, 2018 – Check out our new work describing a computational-experimental platform for the discovery of novel peptide antibiotics in complex biological information.
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acssynbio.8b00084 …
Here is MIT News coverage: http://news.mit.edu/2018/biological-engineers-discover-new-antibiotic-candidates-0820

May, 2018 – I have been invited to give the Keynote address at the annual Infectious Diseases Consortium (IDC) retreat at Harvard Medical School! https://idc.hms.harvard.edu/event/idc-annual-retreat

July, 2017 – I have been invited to participate as Discussion Leader in the “Synthetic Biology” Gordon Research Seminar (GRS)!  Stoweflake Conference Center, Stowe, VT, USA.

August, 2017 – I have been invited to give a talk at the 7th International Meeting on Antimicrobial Peptides in Copenhagen, Denmark!


April, 2018- Our latest work with great collaborators is out in Nature Communications! https://rdcu.be/LE8c


Coverage by MIT News! http://news.mit.edu/2018/artificial-antimicrobial-peptides-could-help-overcome-drug-resistant-bacteria-0416

And by La Voz de Galicia: https://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/ciencia/2018/04/17/algoritmo-inspirado-darwin-crea-supermoleculas-matar-bacterias/0003_201804G17P24991.htm

February, 2018- Our paper describing a new genetic algorithm-based computational approach for the design of “artificial” antimicrobial peptides has been accepted for publication in Nature Communications! More details to follow.

January, 2018- Our paper describing a novel yeast-based synthetic biology platform for antimicrobial peptide production has been accepted for publication in ACS Synthetic Biology! http://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acssynbio.7b00396

January, 2018- New paper on versatile and on-demand biologics co-production in yeast is out in Nature Communications! https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02587-w


December, 2017- New review on Neuromicrobiology: how microbes influence the brain is out! The paper was selected to be featured in ACS Editors’ Choice!  http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acschemneuro.7b00373

December, 2017- Exciting collaboration with MIT colleagues published in Advanced Materials! 3D printing of living responsive materials and devices: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.201704821/abstract


November, 2017- Honored to have been selected as a top Spanish innovator. http://www.elreferente.es/innovadores/75innovadores-menores-35anos-31860

November, 2017- I was featured in an excellent Spanish documentary about antibiotic resistance. Here is the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BG8pS4RYCyo

November, 2017- Interview by Dr. Stephen Hoare and Dr. Sophie Rose during the 8th International Meeting on Antimicrobial Peptides (IMAP 2017) in Copenhagen in August 2017 is out! https://www.crbdiscovery.com/latest-news/interview-cesar-de-la-fuente-dr-stephen-hoare/ 

November, 2017- Honored to be back for another wonderful Boston Latino 30 Under 30 ceremony!

photo latino 30 under 30 2017

October, 2017- Great to be back at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for the Boston Area Antibiotic Resistance Network Annual Meeting 2017.


October, 2017- Our new paper on constrained antimalarial agents derived from the peptide hormone angiotensin II is out in Scientific Reports! http://rdcu.be/xUnP

July, 2017 – Excited to have participated in the 5th annual workshop on “Micro- and Nanotechnologies for Medicine: Emerging Frontiers and Applications”, organized by the Biomaterials Innovation Research Center, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.


July, 2017 – Our paper describing CO2-reactive ionic liquid surfactants that can reversibly bind to DNA upon bubbling with CO2 and N2 is out! Great collaboration with Paul Brown and others from ChemE at MIT! Potential tools for gene delivery. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b00679

July, 2017 – I was invited to give a talk at the University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, USA.

June, 2017- Our new paper on antibiofilm ciprofloxacin-nitroxide hybrids is out in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry! http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0223523417305123

June, 2017 – Our new review on precision antimicrobials is out in Current Opinion in Microbiology! Great collaboration with Francis Mojica, co-discoverer of CRISPR authors.elsevier.com/a/1VDWa4tPFpD~O6

June, 2017 – I completed the MIT Kaufman Teaching Certificate Program (KTCP)!

May, 2017 – Honoured to be have been invited to serve in the committee for Alex Guevara’s Master’s thesis defense at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Congratulations on your excellent work Alex!

May, 2017 – I was invited to give a talk at the 13th Annual Protein Engineering Summit. Boston, MA, USA.

April, 2017 – I was invited to give a talk at Massachusetts General Hospital. Charlestown, MA, USA.

April, 2017 – Invited Seminar. Penn State University, PA, USA.

March, 2017 – I was selected as an ACS Nano Fellow and participated in the first ACS Nano Kavli Futures Symposium. ACS Nano Kavli Futures Symposium. University of California-Los Angeles, CA, USA.



March, 2017 – Invited Seminar. California Institute of Technology. Pasadena, CA, USA.


December, 2016 – Antibacterial Discovery and Development Summit. Boston, MA, USA

November, 2016 – Our work was featured in Popular Science!

November, 2016 – Our work was featured in MIT News!

October, 2016 – I was invited to attend EmTech at MIT Media Lab!


October, 2016 – MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35. Madrid, Spain.
Read Article



September, 2016 – Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, USA

July, 2016 – Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia. Barcelona, Spain.

June, 2016 – International Biochemistry and Molecular Biology meeting. Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil.

June, 2016 – University of Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil.

foto Brazil charla

May, 2016 – Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

March, 2016 – Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.

February, 2016 – I participated in ECUSA CRISPR Symposium.



January, 2016 – Synthetic Biology Center. MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA.


December, 2015 – Spanish National Biotechnology Centre, CSIC. Madrid, Spain.

July, 2015 – Synthetic Biology Group. MIT. Cambridge, MA, USA.

June, 2015 – University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

June, 2015 – University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

March, 2015 – University of A Coruña, University Hospital, Spain.


December, 2014  – Young Investigators Seminar. Barrié Foundation and University of A Coruña, Spain.

September, 2014 – University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


We are moving to the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and we are actively recruiting at all levels!

See below for more info!

Come join our research team! We are hiring at many levels, from lab technicians to post-docs. As part of UPenn’s Departments of Bioengineering, Microbiology, Psychiatry, and the Perelman School of Medicine, the de la Fuente lab seeks exceptional new team members with the grit and passion to make groundbreaking scientific discoveries.

The overarching goal of the lab is to engineer biological systems to make new medicines to combat disease. We offer a unique range of research possibilities at the point where biology and engineering intersect, with many opportunities for all lab personnel to venture into cutting-edge research.

Our work environment supports the continued growth and success of everyone in the lab. The de la Fuente lab values teamwork and is committed to building a diverse team. We enthusiastically welcome applications from underrepresented minority candidates.



To expand our interdisciplinary research team, we are looking for postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduate students, a lab manager and technicians with interest or expertise in synthetic biology, microbiology, bioengineering, chemistry, biological sciences, neuroscience, or related fields. We seek independent, creative, talented, highly motivated, passionate individuals with excellent communication skills and the ability to excel in a team environment.

If you are interested in joining us, please send a CV, summary of previous research, preprints of publications listed on your CV (but not yet available), contact information for three references, and a cover letter detailing current research interests, career goals, and fellowship funding already in hand or pending to cfuente@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.


Lab Manager

If you have an advanced degree in biological science, an opportunity awaits to join our research program as Lab Manager. In this position, you will support our research by carrying out a diverse array of tasks with energy, diligence, and attention to detail. These tasks include managing current projects, seeking new funding, preparing grant proposals, gathering input for reports, and communicating at many levels. You will serve as the liaison with university administrative offices and sponsors and collaborate with faculty, post-docs, administrative staff, and other project stakeholders. You will ensure that program resources are tracked and that records are properly maintained. A Ph.D. in microbiology, bioengineering, synthetic biology, computational biology, or a related field is a plus though not a requirement, as is familiarity with computer programs to coordinate large projects. Responsibilities include proposal development (30%), management of currently funded projects (30%), fundraising (20%), administrative support (10%), and communications, including writing and editing (10%).


Postdoctoral Scholars

We have openings for 1-2 independent, energetic postdoctoral scholars with research interests and expertise in synthetic biology, bacterial engineering, or computational biology. In particular, we seek individuals with expertise in engineering therapeutic-producing microbes and/or computational biology/chemistry to build the medicines of the future. If you have a passion for creating the future by identifying, investigating, and solving complex problems, we encourage you to apply. Our lab will not only generate important discoveries but also foster education and long-lasting collaboration. Postdoctoral scholars will also contribute to the writing of proposals and will gain experience supervising graduate and undergraduate students. It is always a plus if you are coming with fellowship funding (Helen Hay Whitney, LSRF, NIH Individual Postdoctoral Fellowships (F32), NSF Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowships, Human Frontier Science Program Postdoctoral Fellowships, CF Foundation, L’Oréal USA Fellowships for Women in Science Program, Fundacion Ramon Areces, etc.).


Ph.D. Students 

We have multiple openings available for Ph.D. students. Graduate students from almost any UPenn department exploring questions and technologies at the intersection of biology and bioengineering would be good candidates for these positions. Candidates should apply through their respective program including Biomedical Graduate Studies and the Bioengineering Ph.D. Program at the University of Pennsylvania. If you have been admitted or are coming to campus for an interview, please get in touch. Funded visiting students interested in our lab are also welcomed to apply. We also encourage candidates to secure a graduate research fellowship (through NSF, NDSEG, Hertz, la Caixa Foundation, NIH-FAPESP, etc.).

M.S. Students 

We have multiple openings for M.S. students in Bioengineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and other related M.S. programs at UPenn. We encourage candidates to secure a M.S. fellowship (through la Caixa Foundation, FAPESP, CAPES, CNPq, AAUW, etc.). Please check this resource for funding opportunities: https://www.curf.upenn.edu/find-fellowships.

Undergraduate Students 

We have multiple openings available for undergraduate students majoring in biomedical science, bioengineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering, chemistry, computational biology or biology at UPenn. Funding for summer research experiences may be obtained from several sources (e.g., American Society of Microbiology Undergraduate Research Fellowship). Please check this resource for additional funding opportunities: https://www.curf.upenn.edu/find-fellowships. Undergraduates interested in doing research should write to me directly at cfuente@pennmedicine.upenn.edu and include a CV and a description of short-term and long-term research interests.


Research Technicians 

We have one position available for a research technician with expertise in bacterial molecular biology, microbiology, cell culture and animal models.

Other Positions

We interface with the community at many levels, and so we are also seeking alums, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, artists, retirees, and graphic designers who can contribute to our research activities. If you are interested in participating, write to me at cfuente@pennmedicine.upenn.edu describing your interests and background, so that we can explore possibilities.


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Cesar de la Fuente, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate & Areces Foundation Junior Fellow

Department of Biological Engineering
Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics
Research Laboratory of Electronics
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology/ Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard


Massachusetts Institute of Technology
32 Vassar Street, 36-781
Cambridge, MA 02139