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Lunes 22 de Mayo de 2023

My life in Research: Christian Palavecino Beaumont

Professor and Researcher at the Health Sciences Faculty, Universidad Central de Chile, UCEN

Although I'm from Santiago I did my higher studies in Valdivia, where I studied Medical Technology, obtained a Master degree in microbiology and a PhD in cellular and molecular biology at the Universidad Austral de Chile. I did my doctoral thesis in London, England, at the Queen Mary London University, where I made very good friends and colleagues with whom I still keep in touch.

In the meantime, I had two daughters with my wife, who is my constant support. Since undergraduate I knew that my thing was scientific research, therefore, during my thesis I worked on research projects that brought me closer to molecular biology and microbiology. However, I was also influenced by my clinical training which prompted me to study molecular mechanisms of virulence of bacteria of medical interest. This is how I worked for a long-time studying mycobacterium bovis, mycobacterium tuberculosis, and their interrelation with the disease they produce: tuberculosis. After finishing my PhD, I worked in vaccine development projects with the Millennium group at the Universidad Catolica de Chile.

Currently I am a teacher and researcher at the Faculty of Health Sciences. I have a laboratory where I investigate the relationship between the antimicrobial multi-resistance of bacteria, such as klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus, and their pathogenic capacity. However, my best results are those obtained in the search for alternative therapies to antibiotics for the treatment of multidrug-resistant bacteria, identifying compounds that are used in photodynamic therapy.

My goals are not very demanding, I would just like to make a contribution to the treatment of multidrug-resistant infections utilizing compounds that help affected people improve their health.  This will help manage the growing threat of the generation of impossible to treat super-bacteria. With these results we are writing FONDECYT and FONDEF projects that can allow us to scale in the degree of characterization of these products. To make it attractive for the pharmaceutical industry to collaborate with us in clinical studies of phase I, II and III, so that in the near future, these products can be marketed as pharmaceutical products approved by the FDA and the ISP. I would also like to contribute to the field of molecular biology by identifying and characterizing the risk posed by the potentiation of virulence that multidrug-resistant bacteria can produce. 

I would say to the students that if they fall in love with science and want to become researchers, do not hesitate and follow their dreams. I don’t come from a wealthy family, I come from a lower middle-class family.  I was raised in a neighborhood in the municipality of Conchalí in Santiago, very close to where the “sparrow of Conchalí”, the great Zalo Reyes, lived. I didn’t study in any of the illustrious or emblematic schools. I was the first one in my family to go to university (first generation professional).  So, the only thing needed is the desire to improve oneself, break the circle, and follow your dreams, all the rest are just excuses.