Cuauhtémoc García-García


Ph.D. The Johns Hopkins University






I am currently studying translational control of human gene regulation. Specifically, my work is on how the human ribosome moves along the untranslated region of the mRNA preceding genes, a process termed “scanning.” To date, optical traps are the only experimental technique that allows direct visualization of this phenomenon. The overall goal of this project is to mechanistically and energetically characterize ribosome scanning, including its dependence on the mRNA energy landscape and the effects of phosphorylation of different initiation factors in the scanning complex.

My B.S. is in physics from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and I did my undergraduate thesis on chaotic transport in deterministic ratchets under the supervision of José Luis Mateos. Thereafter, I did graduate work in the program of Molecular Biophysics at Johns Hopkins University, where I obtained my Ph.D. working for David Draper. My doctoral work focused on the experimental validation of the Poisson-Boltzmann formalism in describing electrostatic components of binding and folding of RNA-protein complexes. After completing my Ph.D., I started my postdoctoral work at UC Berkeley. There, in collaboration with Christopher Fraser, we initiated a project to address the mechanism of ribosome scanning, which has morphed into my current project of using optical traps in the Steven Block Lab at Stanford.

Beyond academia, I am interested in German politics and society of the last two centuries, and German grammar–of course, prior to the Rechtschreibreform of 1996. I also love to alpine climb including rock, snow and, of course, ice.