Members of the Academy

Alonso Izquierdo, Alicia


Alicia Alonso (Bilbao, 1955) is Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the University of the Basque Country. She holds a degree and PhD in Biological Sciences (Biochemistry) from the then University of Bilbao, and conducted post-doctoral research in the Royal Free Hospital of the University of London in the laboratory run by Professor Dennis Chapman. She rejoined the University of the Basque Country in 1982 where she later became Associate Professor and subsequently Full Professor (since 1992). In 1998 she became the first director of the newly-created Biophysics Unit, a mixed centre comprising the University of the Basque Country and the CSIC (the Spanish National Research Council), where she continues working today. From 1999 to 2000 she was Visiting Professor at the University of Victoria (British Columbia, Canada).

Her current research looks at two main areas: (1) The role of sphingolipids in membranes. She analyses the changes in the biophysical properties of cell membranes caused by the presence of these lipids and links these changes to the different pathologies associated with the levels of the different sphingolipids in the cells; (2) Cellular processes in which lipid-protein interactions can regulate membrane remodelling. She currently focuses on autophagy, specifically the generation of the double-membrane structures called autophagosomes and their subsequent elongation and fusion with lysosomes. She uses a multidisciplinary approach that combines biophysics and cellular biology techniques with nanotechnology.

From May 1988 to October 1992 she was a member of the University Professor Committee and the first member of this committee endorsed by the Academic Senate in the UPV/EHU. She was also a member of the Board of the Faculty of Sciences at different times for a total of more than 20 years, and of the Academic Senate for around 15 years. She is former director of the CSIC Associated Unit of the Biomembranes Group at the University of the Basque Country (31 October 1995 to 25 January 1999) and of the Biophysics Unit, Mixed Centre (University of the Basque Country/CSIC) (25 January 1999 to 18 December 2000).

Coordinator of the Biochemistry Degree (2001-2004) and Chair of the Preparation Committee for the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Degree (2008-2009). In 2008 she founded the BioForo initiative at the University of the Basque Country and since then has been coordinator together with Prof. Ana Zubiaga. Each year, the initiative organises around 12 seminars and a scientific conference, all highly specialist, at the University of the Basque Country. She has been a member of the University Research Committee since 2017.

In her work with scientific bodies, she was Chair of the SBE (Spanish Biophysics Society) from 2006 to 2010, Vice-Chair of SEBBM (Spanish Biophysics and Molecular Biology Society) from 2010 to 2014, member of the Executive Board of the IUPAB (International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics) from 2008 to 2014, and Secretary of the IUBMB (International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) from 2010 to 2014. She has been General Secretary of COSCE (Confederation of Scientific Societies in Spain) since March 2015 after being re-elected in 2019.

Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Gadea Foundation and member of the Editorial Board for the specialist journals Biophysical Reviews and Traffic.

Ministerial Advisor for the preparation of the EEC Horizon 2020 programme. Advisor to the Economy and Competitiveness Committee of the Spanish Senate for the ‘Presentation on research into methods for integration, support and knowledge transfer to SMEs and promotion of a value code, for R&D&I&D’ in 2013. Project assessor and member of evaluation panels for Fundamental and Systems Biology and the Physics and Sciences of Space, and for university teacher training grants in the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and the Ministry of the Economy and Business, in different years from 1990 to the present time. Project assessor for national bodies in Argentina, Chile and the Netherlands and for private international foundations. External assessor of doctoral theses (France, Italy and the UK) and for the promotion of teaching and research for universities in Germany, the USA, the Netherlands and Portugal.

In 2017 she was awarded the Manuel Rico ‐ Bruker Award from the Spanish Biophysics Society in recognition of a research career in biophysics in Spain. In 2019 the received the Aixe Getxo Award from the Getxo Town Hall for Scientific and Innovative Culture. She was the winner of the XI Jordi Camp Award for research into surfactants.

Alicia Alonso was elected a full member of JAKIUNDE on 8 November 2019 in Bergara.

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