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Personal Docente e Investigador (P.D.I.)

Hernando Pérez, Mercedes

Profesora ayudante doctora
Física de Materiales
Academic Area:
Física Aplicada
91 497 5626
91 497 8579
Resume CV

My PhD research (Department of Condensed Matter Physics, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), in the interdisciplinary field of Physical Virology, focused on the study of mechanical properties and stability of macromolecular protein assemblies (viral capsids) by using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM).  My thesis was supervised by Dr. P. J. de Pablo and awarded with Sobresaliente Cum Laude score. My main goal was to understand the relationships between physical properties, biological functions and structure. I characterized the stability of bacteriophage capsids during the maturation process.  My research program resulted in three notable contributions: 1) enhanced the physical understanding of viral capsid stability ( Nat. Comm 2014; Nanoscale 2014); 2) developed methods to help reveal physical properties of viral shells ( Nanoscale 2013; Nanoscale 2015); and 3) for the first time, used Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) to confirm the existence of internal pressure inside viral capsids ( Small 2012). My PhD research resulted in 14 peer-reviewed articles .  Two journal covers (Small 2012 and Nanoscale 2015).

From September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2016, I was a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Prof. B. Dragnea at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. This laboratory focuses on the physico-chemical characterization and manipulation of self-assembled proteins at the nanoscale. I successfully carried out two different projects which involve Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS), Raman spectroscopy and force spectroscopy to acquire detailed knowledge on how the mechanical properties of various biological systems change dynamically and depend on chemical composition. There were two main goals: 1) gaining an understanding of simple icosahedral virus elasticity, how it depends on the chemical environment, and on assembly pathways ( J. Phys. Chem. B 2015; PRL 2017; ACSNano 2019); and 2) identifying the physico-chemical properties of a biological bioadhesive ( mBio 2018 ).

From October 2016 to January 2021,  I joined the group of Dra. C. San Martín (National Biotechnology Center-CSIC), with a Juan de la Cierva (Training) and Juan de la Cierva (Incorptoration) contracts  The group of Dr. San Martin specializes in the structural and physical principles of adenovirus assembly, using cryo-EM and other biochemical and biophysical techniques.  I have been characterizing the structure and physical properties of human adenovirus variants with mutations in the DNA-binding, genome condensing protein ( NAR 2019, PNAS 2020,  Sci. Adv 2021). During this postdoc I published 6 peer-reviewed articles and 3 book chapters.

At present, I am Profesora Ayuadante Doctor at Department of Material Physics (UAM).

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