Tomás Pérez-Acle, PhD
Dr. Perez-Acle is the Director of Centro Ciencia & Vida.
As an academic and researcher, Dr. Perez-Acle has a fruitful career, harvesting the results of a transdisciplinary approach in Computational Biology. His research topics include computational biophysics to study the properties of the electrical synapse in neurons mediated by connexin-based channels; the development of new artificial intelligence algorithms based on neuromorphic architecture and their use to dissect the retinal coding in mammals; the development and expansion of a parallel computational platform for stochastic modeling of complex biological phenomena using rules and agents; new mathematical methods for the inference, characterization and dynamics of complex biological networks and information as a modulator of human behavior. In the last 5 years, his work has given rise to 20 publications, all of them in Q1 journals, and the direction of 6 doctoral theses. His research funding has come both from national and international sources including the Millennium Initiative, FONDECYT regular projects, FONDEF, CORFO, ANID’s AFB 170004 program, and also from the HP Labs, ECU FP07, USA Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the USA Army Research Office. In total, during his 20 years long carrier, Dr. Perez-Acle has raised near to 2 million USD to conduct scientific research.
During his career, Dr. Perez-Acle has had an active participation as a member and collaborator of several national research centers, including appointments as Director of the Center for Bioinformatics of U. Católica de Chile (2001-2010), Professor and Associate Researcher of the Millennium Institute Centro Interdisciplinario de Neurociencia de Valparaíso (CINV), U. of Valparaíso (2010 to date), Deputy Director (2010-2013), then Executive Director of the National Laboratory for High Performance Computing (NLHPC) (2013-2014), and Associate Researcher (2010-2014) of the Center for Mathematical Modeling, School of Engineering and Sciences, U. of Chile (2013-2014). Adjunct Researcher at the Institute of Complex Systems of Valparaíso (2016 to date) and Principal Investigator and Director of Information and Communication Technologies at FCV (2008 to date).
Dr. Perez-Acle collaborates strongly in support of the scientific and innovation ecosystem in Chile. He has been a member of the CONICYT National Scientific and Technological Mission sent to the Indo-Chile Workshop on Big Data (2014); member of the Advisory Council of the EXPLORA Program of CONICYT (2015-2017); member of the Biology 2 (2016-2017) and Biology 3 (2017-2018) Evaluation Panels of the FONDECYT Study Groups, member of the Evaluation Panels of the FONDEF IDeA Program (2016-2018), and member of the CORFO Innova Evaluation Panels (2014 to 2019). Denoting his international recognition, he was appointed by the USA DOE to participate in the Global Dialogues in Emerging Science and Technologies (GDEST) 2008 in Petropolis, Brazil; as Executive Secretary of the Iberoamerican Society for Bioinformatics (2016-2018); and more recently, as Regular Member of the Chile-USA Council on Science, Technology and Innovation (2018 to the date). Dr. Perez-Acle has been always interested on policymaking as demonstrated by his appointment as member of the Science, Technology and Innovation Commission of President Sebastián Piñera’s program (2017-2018).
Dr Perez-Acle is also a keen entrepreneur, having past broad experience in the information and telecommunications industry in Chile. He was founding partner and Project Manager of Seeds Systems Design and Netplus Gestión Informática, two small medium enterprises companies that developed and integrated custom software solutions for the Chilean industry (1994-1999), he was also Development and Operations Manager, leading more than 20 engineers and developers at the jobsite Laborum.com (1999-2000), and Consultant Manager for Microsoft Chile with specialization in information systems based on WEB technology (2000-2001). More recently (2016), he is founding Partner with Dr. Juan Carlos Saez from the CINV Millennium Institute, of CONNECTOMICA SpA, a pharmaceutical startup company residing in our Science and Business Campus, that develops novel connexin hemichannel blockers for the treatment of inflammatory-based diseases, a company that emerged from his collaborative research in connexin biophysics with the CINV.
Due to his research on massive data and on the role of information as modulator of people´s behavior, particularly in the case of the dispersion of infectious diseases, Dr. Perez-Acle was nominated by the Ministry of Science, Knowledge, Technology and Innovation (MinCTCI) to become member of two multidisciplinary boards dedicated to support evidence-based decision making during the COVID-19 pandemic in Chile. Thus, since March 2020, he has been member of the Modelling Group and the Sub-mesa de Datos (open data board). From this appointment, he has been providing both nowcasting and forecasting on the impact of the pandemic to both the Chilean authorities and the population at-large, as well as technical knowledge to create the first open repository in Chile to store and share data suitable to follow the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to his knowledge and communication skills, Dr. Perez-Acle has become one of the national and international referents about the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Chile, appearing multiple times in media both traditional and digital.
During the appointment of Dr. Perez-Acle as Deputy Director of the BASAL program, he continued to demonstrate scientific achievements by his appointment as Director of the PhD program in Computational Biology at U. San Sebastián (USS), the first of its kind in Chile, and by recently earning a new FONDECYT regular project (the 3rd of his carrier), and an international grant from the AFOSR/AFRL/SOARD of US$500.000 to forecast the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US.