Winners of the EPS Awards 2024

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of the President and of the Executive of the European Peptide Society, it is my honor and pleasure to announce the winners of the EPS Awards 2024:

  • Josef Rudinger Memorial Award: Professor Fernando ALBERICIO and Professor David ANDREU
  • Leonidas Zervas Award: Professor Ashraf BRIK
  • Miklós Bodanszky Award: Professor César DE LA FUENTE

Paula Gomes,
EPS Secretary

Fernando Albericio began his peptide journey almost 50 years ago in his native Barcelona. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Barcelona (UB) under the guidance of Ernest Giralt. After several postdoctoral stays at Tufts University (Victor Najjar), Université d’Aix-Marseille (Jurphass van Rietschoten), and University of Minnesota (George Barany), he returned to Barcelona in 1985 as Associate Professor at the UB. From 1992-94, he was Director of Peptide Research at Millipore-Waters in Boston. He rejoined the UB after this period and was promoted to Full Professor in 1995. From 2003-2015, he was Group Leader at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB). From 2014-2015, he was the founding Rector of Yachay Tech, a research university in Ecuador. He was also a Visiting Professor at the King Saud University (Riyadh, Saud Arabia) (2014-2020). Currently, he is Research Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) since 2016 and Emeritus Professor of Organic Chemistry at the UB.

Fernando has received several awards, including the Leonidas Zervas (1994) from the European Peptide Society, the Vincent du Vigneaud (2011) and Murray Goodman (2019) from the American Peptide Society, and the Johannes Meienhofer (2024) from the Boulder Peptide Foundation.  He is Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) (2013), has the Gold Medal of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI) (2022), and has received Lifetime Achievement Award by European Peptide Synthesis Conference, Europe, 2024

He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Peptides Research & Therapeutics (Springer-Nature), Methods and Protocols (MDPI), and recently of Exploration of Drug Science (Exploration Publisher) and Associate Editor and Editorial Board Member of several other journals.

His primary research interests cover practically all aspects of peptide synthetic methodology; the synthesis of peptides and small molecules with therapeutic activities (cancer and infectious diseases); and peptide-based drug delivery systems. Most recently, he has been working on greening solid-phase peptide synthesis processes.

He has published over 1000 scientific articles, graduated more than 80 Ph.D. students, filled more than 60 patents, and more than 20 products developed in Fernando’s laboratory are in the market, including OxymaPure©, COMU©, PEG-PS© resin, PAL© linker, several Cys protecting groups (SIT, Phacm, Dpm, THP…).

Fernando is a clear defender of the concept of Entrepreneurial University, which is based on the transformation of knowledge generated through R&D&I into economic development and social well-being of the environment. He was the Founder and General Director of the Barcelona Science Park, which is considered the first university science park in Europe and is currently a promoter of BioDurban (South Africa).

David Andreu is professor of Chemistry (2002-23, emeritus September 2023) and head of the Protein Chemistry and Proteomics Laboratory at the Department of Medicine and Life Sciences of Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Barcelona. David studied chemistry at University of Barcelona (UB), where he and Rüdinger co-awardee Fernando Albericio were classmates. Fortunately lured out of alkaloid into peptide chemistry by Ernest Giralt, he completed under his direction a PhD (1981, UB extraordinary award), then went on to perfect his training with Bruce Merrifield at Rockefeller University (New York), where some of his scientific interests (antimicrobial peptides, vaccines) were first aroused, and have remained active to this day. Since 1985-86 he was associate professor of organic chemistry at UB until his 2001 appointment at UPF as full professor of chemistry and research group leader (Protein Chemistry and Proteomics). On the academic side, he has coordinated UPF life sciences chemistry studies (2001-23), lecturing on basic, bioanalytical and medicinal chemistry. Research-wise, in 2-plus decades at UPF he has focused on bioactive peptides (antibiotics, vaccines, CPPs), and expanded into adjacent areas (proteomics, glycomics, mass spectrometry). He created and directed (2002-08) the UPF proteomics platform, integrated into the Spanish Proteomics Institute (ProteoRed), of which he was a promoter (2004). He has published >340 articles, reviews, and chapters on peptides, proteomics, and related topics, and is co-inventor of 16 patents on peptides with biomedical or veterinary applications. He has supervised 15 doctoral theses during his tenure at UB and another 9 at UPF. Since 2013, he has been editor-in-chief of Drugs of the Future, a Clarivate journal on drugs under development. He was founder and treasurer (2004-09) of the Spanish Proteomics Society (SEProt) and served as vice-president (2009-13) of the Spanish Society of Medicinal Chemistry (SEQT). In 2015, he received an honorary Doctor-et-Professor degree from Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest. In 2016, after two rounds as scientific affairs officer (2002-2010), he was elected president of the European Peptide Society (2016-20). He is co-founder (2023) of Disrupt Therapeutics, a UPF start-up developing peptide drugs to combat the cognitive side effects of medicinal cannabis use.

Prof. Brik is The Jordan and Irene Tark Academic Professor at the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. He received his B.Sc. in chemistry from the Ben-Gurion University (1996), and his M.Sc. (1998) and Ph.D. from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (2001. After spending three years as a postdoc and two years as a senior research associate at the Scripps Research Institute, Brik returned to the Chemistry Department at his Alma Mater as an Assistant Professor (2007). He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011 and Full Professor in 2012. In 2015, Brik moved to the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry at Technion, where he is leading an interdisciplinary research group in chemical biology. His research involves the development of novel synthetic approaches to shed light on fundamental questions on the role of posttranslational modifications in cellular processes, overcoming the limitations of the enzymatic methods to obtain these modified proteins. This has enabled numerous studies in a wide research area, from investigating the role of ubiquitination and phosphorylation in Parkinson’s disease to epigenetics. Brik also pioneered the development of chemical tools to study and target deubiquitinates and to discover effective macrocyclic peptides that bind tightly to specific ubiquitin chains and attenuate their activities in biological processes. Brik received several awards: the Bruno Award, the Israel Chemical Society Prize for Excellence, the Teva Award, the 11th Hirta Award, The Friedrich Bessel Research Award, and the Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award. Prof Brik is the recipient of the Advanced ERC Grant (2019).

César de la Fuente is a Presidential Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he leads the Machine Biology Group. Previously, he pursued postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and earned a PhD at the University of British Columbia (UBC). His research goal is to use the power of machines to accelerate discoveries in biology and medicine. Specifically, he pioneered the development of the first computer-designed antibiotic with efficacy in animal models, demonstrating the application of AI for antibiotic discovery and helping launch this emerging field. His lab has also been in the vanguard of developing computational methods for mining the world’s biological information, leading to the breakthrough discovery of a whole new world of antimicrobials. These efforts explored the human proteome as a source of antibiotics for the first time. De la Fuente’s group was also the first to find therapeutic molecules in extinct organisms, launching the field of molecular de-extinction. Molecular de-extinction has already yielded preclinical antibiotic candidates. Altogether, de la Fuente’s work has dramatically accelerated the time needed to discover preclinical candidates, from years to hours. Additional advances from his lab include designing algorithms for antibiotic discovery, reprogramming venoms into antimicrobials, developing autonomous nanorobots to treat infections, creating novel resistance-proof antimicrobial materials, and inventing rapid, lowcost diagnostic devices for COVID-19 and other infections. Prof. de la Fuente is an NIH MIRA investigator and has received recognition and research funding from numerous other groups. De la Fuente has received over 70 national and international awards. He is an elected Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), becoming one of the youngest ever to be inducted. He was recognized by MIT Technology Review as one of the world’s top innovators for “digitizing evolution to make better antibiotics.” He was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Langer Prize and as an ACS Kavli Emerging Leader in Chemistry, an ASM Distinguished Lecturer, Waksman Foundation Lecturer, and received the Miklós Bondanszky Award, AIChE’s 35 Under 35 Award, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Young Investigator Award, and the ACS Infectious Diseases Young Investigator Award. He also received the Thermo Fisher Award, as well as the EMBS Academic Early Career Achievement Award “For the pioneering development of novel antibiotics designed using principles from computation, engineering, and biology.” Most recently, Prof. de la Fuente was awarded the prestigious Princess of Girona Prize, the ASM Award for Early Career Applied and Biotechnological Research, the Rao Makineni Lectureship Award by the American Peptide Society, and was selected as a National Academy of Medicine Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine. De la Fuente serves on the editorial boards of numerous scholarly journals and is currently an Associate Editor of Drug Resistance Updates (IF= 24.3; the premier international drug resistance journal), Nature Communications Biology, Bioactive Materials (IF = 18.9), Bioengineering & Translational Medicine, and Digital Discovery. He has been named a Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate several times. Prof. de la Fuente has given over 250 invited lectures, including numerous Keynote and Named Lectures, and has spoken at TEDx. He has co-authored an influential book on machine learning for drug discovery and his scientific discoveries have yielded multiple patents and over 150 publications, including papers in Science, Cell, Cell Host Microbe, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Nature Communications, PNAS, ACS Nano, Nature Chemical Biology, and Advanced Materials.