12 August 2020

Alekos Athanasiadis (1963-2020), promoting science and empowering scientists at the IGC

Alekos Athanasiadis

The whole IGC community is deeply saddened about the passing of our dear friend and colleague Alekos Athanasiadis.

Alekos Athanasiadis joined the IGC as a group leader in 2009. In 2018 he became co-director of the IGC PhD program. Previous to his time at the IGC, Alekos had done a masters and PhD in Molecular biology and Crystallography of restrictions enzymes at the IMBB in Crete, followed by a postdoctoral work at ICGEB, Trieste, Italy. He then moved to a research position at the MIT, with Prof Alexander Rich, where with a Human Frontiers research fellowship, he started to work on structural and computational studies of the RNA editing process and the responsible enzymes (ADARs) until 2008. In 2009 Alekos started his research group at the IGC as a Marie Curie Research Fellow. His research focused on understanding how post-transcriptional RNA modifications create and fine-tune a much larger repertoire of proteins originating from a small number of genes. He was interested in the study of the molecular mechanisms involved in such diversification of RNA and DNA sequence, as well as understanding the consequences of such processes for molecular evolution dynamics. He was employing computational, molecular and structural biology tools, in particular to study the A to I RNA editing process which alters the sequence of thousands of human pre-mRNAs. This process has a prominent role in regulating Innate Immune responses to dsRNA.

Besides being an enthusiastic researcher that asked the most profound questions at seminars, Alekos is known for always having time to discuss and contribute to the work of all at the IGC, from student to PI. He helped many, many students and postdocs in the most diverse topics, from structure analysis, to protein purification, to the history of science. The breadth of his knowledge of biology made his intellectual contributions particularly insightful and useful to us, his colleagues, from every discipline.  He collaborated and co-authored papers with several research groups at the IGC but most of his human and scientific contributions will last in a not formally acknowledged manner in our memories and our hearts.

We will always remember Alekos enthusiastically discussing science with colleagues in the IGC patio. Our thoughts go to his family, friends and colleagues. 


Prof. Maria Arménia Carrondo & Prof. António Coutinho eulogy's