Prof. Francisco E. Baralle
General Director, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Trieste

Francisco E. Baralle, born in Buenos Aires on 26 October 1943, graduated in chemistry and medicine at the Universities of Buenos Aires and Naples respectively. After gaining his Ph.D. at the Department of Organic Chemistry, he transferred to the Instituto de Investigaciones Bioquimicas Fundacion Campomar directed by Prof. Luis F. Leloir. In 1974, he moved to the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK, where he worked in the Division directed by Dr. Frederick Sanger. From 1980 to 1990, he was University Lecturer of Pathology at Oxford and Fellow of Magdalen College. In 1980, he was elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation. In 2001 he was elected Member of the Argentine Academy of Sciences. In September 1990, he was appointed Director of the Trieste Component of ICGEB and in 2004 became the Director-General of the same institute.
In 1977, Prof. Baralle published the sequence of the messenger RNA coding for beta-globin, the first complete primary structure of a eukaryotic mRNA. In 1979, his group isolated the gene for epsilon-globin, a component of the human embryonic haemoglobin. He has also contributed to the study of the genetic factors involved in the susceptibility to hypertension, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
He was one of the first to describe the pre-mRNA alternative splicing process in the 1980s and since then his research continues to produce critical contributions to understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in this important cellular process in health and disease, publishing over 220 papers in high-level international journals.
Recently, a splicing factor TDP-43, under study in his lab for over a decade, has been identified as the main component of the inclusion bodies found in the brain of patients with neurodegenerative diseases. This field is currently the main focus of Prof. Baralle’s laboratory.
Furthermore, in addition to the basic research fields mentioned above, applied biotechnology projects are being carried out at the ICGEB laboratory. In particular, strains, process and quality control protocols have been developed for the production of recombinant biopharmaceuticals.