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Jun-Prof. Dr. Mercedes Alfonso Prieto

Junior Professor

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I have a dual appointment as Assistant Professor (W1 Junior-Professor) at Forschungszentrum Jülich (INM-9/IAS-5 Computational Biomedicine) and the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (Cécile and Oskar Vogt Institute for Brain Research).

My position is partly funded by the Ernesto Illy Foundation through the grant "Computational science of chemical senses".

Professional career

10.2014 - 09.2016Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow (Univ. of Barcelona, Spain)
Advisor: Prof. Carme Rovira
04.2010 - 09.2014Postdoctoral researcher (Temple University, USA)
Advisor: Prof. Michael L. Klein
10.2004 - 12.2009Master and PhD student (Barcelona Science Park, Spain)
Supervisor: Prof. Carme Rovira



12.2009PhD degree (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)
05.2006Master degree (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)
02.2005Degree in Biochemistry (University of Barcelona, Spain)
Prize for excellence as undergraduate student
09.2004Degree in Chemistry (University of Barcelona, Spain)


Scientific honours

10.2014 - 09.2016        Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at Univ. of Barcelona (Spain)

Funding in the last 3 years raised as PI

Name of the GrantCo-PIsCallTime PeriodAmount
Multidisciplinary approach for mapping protein-protein interactions surfaces: From mass spectrometry to computational and cell biologyProf. Patricia Hidalgo (FZJ, ICS-4) and Dr. Beatrix Santiago-Schuebel (FZJ, ZEA-3)Networking Doctoral Position funded by the FZJ Board of Directors10.2019 – 09.20213 year PhD position
Prediction of ligand protein interactions and brain signaling cascades using machine learning approaches: olfaction as a test scenarioProf. Marc Spehr (RWTH Aachen University) and Prof. Alejandro Giorgetti (FZJ)Doctoral position in Simulation and Data Sciences06.2019 – 05.20213 year PhD position

Funding in the last 3 years contributing as participant personnel

Name of the GrantPICallTime PeriodAmount
Molecular simulation-based rational design of painkillers targeting the opioid receptor (PaTOR).Prof. Paolo CarloniBMBF call for funding for bilateral cooperation with Vietnam02.2019 – 01.2022240,000

Supervision of PhD students

  • Dr. Fabrizio Fierro (10.2016 – 04. 2019), co-supervised together with Prof. Paolo Carloni and Prof. Alejandro Giorgetti.
  • Mr. Giuliano Santarpia (06.2019 – present), co-supervised with Prof. Marc Spehr and Prof. Alejandro Giorgetti.
  • Mr. Francisco Castilla Porras (10.2019 – present), co-supervised with Prof. Patricia Hidalgo and Dr. Beatrix Santiago-Schuebel.

Research interest and activity

Our research aims at understanding the function of chemosensory receptors [1-5] and ion channels [6-7] at the molecular level, combining structural bioinformatics and molecular dynamics simulations (both atomistic and hybrid atomistic/coarse-grained).

Selected publications (2017 - 2019)

  1. Dual binding mode of “bitter sugars” to their human bitter taste receptor target.
    F. Fierro, A. Giorgetti, P. Carloni, W. Meyerhof, M. Alfonso-Prieto*, Sci. Rep. 9, 8437 (2019). (Link)
  2. Understanding ligand binding to G-protein coupled receptors using multiscale simulations.
    M. Alfonso-Prieto, L. Navarini, P. Carloni, Front. Mol. Biosci. 6, 29 (2019). (Link)
  3. Multiscale simulations on human Frizzled and Taste2 GPCRs.
    M. Alfonso-Prieto*, A. Giorgetti*, P. Carloni, Curr. Opin. Struct. Biol. 55, 8-16 (2019). (Link)
    * Equal first authorship.
  4. Predicting ligand binding poses for low-resolution membrane protein models: Perspectives from multiscale simulations.
    J. Schneider, K. Korshunova, F. Musiani, M. Alfonso-Prieto*, A. Giorgetti, P. Carloni*, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm. 498(2), 366-374 (2018). (Link)
  5. Agonist binding to chemosensory receptors: a systematic bioinformatics analysis.
    F. Fierro, E. Suku, M. Alfonso-Prieto*, A. Giorgetti*, S. Cichon, P. Carloni, Front. Mol. Biosci. 4, 63 (2017). (Link)
  6. Photocontrol of endogenous glycine receptors in vivo.
    A. Gomila-Juaneda, K. Rustler, G. Maleeva, A. Nin-Hill, D. Wutz, A. Bautista-Barrufet, X. Rovira, M. Bosch, E. Mukhametova, F. Mukhamedyarov, F. Peiretti, M. Alfonso-Prieto, C. Rovira, B. König, P. Bregestovski, P. Gorostiza, bioRxiv, 744391 (2019). (Link)
  7. A photoswitchable GABA receptor channel blocker.
    G. Maleeva, D. Wutz,  K. Rustler,  A. Nin‐Hill,  C. Rovira, E. Petukhova,  A. Bautista‐Barrufet,  A. Gomila‐Juaneda,  P.  Scholze,  F. Peiretti,  M. Alfonso-Prieto*,  B. König,  P. Gorostiza*,  P. Bregestovski*, Br. J. Pharmacol. 176, 2661-2677 (2019). (Link)


  • Prof. Paolo Carloni, Forschungszentrum Jülich and RWTH Aachen University (Germany).
  • Prof. Alejandro Giorgetti, Dept. of Biotechnology - University of Verona (Italy).
  • Ernesto Illy Foundation, Trieste (Italy).
  • Prof. Patricia Hidalgo, Forschungszentrum Jülich and Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (Germany).
  • Dr. Beatrix Santiago-Schuebel, Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany).
  • Prof. Pau Gorostiza, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (Spain).
  • Prof. Piotr Bregestovski, Aix-Marseille Université (France).
  • Prof. Burkhard König, Universität Regensburg (Germany).
  • Prof. Carme Rovira, University of Barcelona (Spain).


IAS-5 / INM-9
Computational Biomedicine
Forschungszentrum Jülich
52428 Jülich


Phone: +49 2461 61 8934
Fax: +49 2461 61 4823