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Dr Sergio Padilla-Parra
Sergio Padilla-Parra

Dr Sergio Padilla-Parra

  • Academics
  • Supervisors

Reader in Virus Imaging and Biophotonics

Research subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Immunology

Contact details


Sergio completed a Masters in Chemistry at Lund University (Sweden) with 1st Class Honours in 2005. After that, he was enrolled as Research Assistant at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen (Denmark). There, he developed mathematical models applied to biological systems; a project funded by the European Commission and supervised by Kirstine Berg-Sorensen. In 2006 he was awarded a Marie Curie Ph.D fellowship to continue his research career at Institut Jacques Monod, Paris. Sergio completed his Ph.D studies in 2009 under the supervision of Marc Tramier and Maite Coppey-Moisan on the development of advanced lifetime imaging microscopy applied to host-pathogens interactions. In collaboration with Guy Tran Van Nhieu (at that time at Institut Pasteur and currently at College de France) he investigated how actin dynamics where altered in the host during Shigela entry. At this point of his career, Sergio already had experience in mathematical modelling, advanced light microscopy, molecular biology and imaging live cells while being infected by Shigella.

Sergio went to Emory University (Atlanta, USA) to start a postdoc under the supervision of Gregory Melikyan. He studied retrovirus entry and fusion employing time-resolved light microscopy. In particular, he studied how Avian Sarcoma and Leukosis Virus (ASLV) entered the cell employing different endosomal routes depending on the receptor isoform utilised (either TVA800 or TVA950). He also studied Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 (HIV-1) entry and fusion and there he learnt advanced virology and microscopy techniques such time-resolved sinlge virus tracking (SVT) and functional assays on virus fusion (Padilla-Parra et al., PNAS, 2012 and Padilla-Parra et al., Plos Pathogens, 2012).

Sergio established and consolidated his independent laboratory by a Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) Leadership Fellowship (University of Oxford) 2013-2020 and European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator award (2019 -2025) respectively. These awards have helped him to establish a group studying enveloped retrovirus fusion (such as HIV) utilising advanced single molecule approaches. His group has helped to solve the controversy of the whereabouts of HIV fusion (which occurs in the plasma membrane of T Cells but within endosomal compartments in macrophages (Jones et al, Cell Reports 2017 and Russell et al., Cell Reports 2017 and reviewed in Jakobsdottir et al., Trends Mol Med, 2017). His group, in collaboration with the Bowden lab (Univsity of Oxford), has also been the first one to define the time-resolved stoichiometry of the HIV fusion reaction in live cells (Iliopoulou et al., NSMB, 2018).