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IQTC Women: Beatriz Piniello

Beatriz started studying Chemistry in the University of Barcelona in 2013. In 2016, she did an Erasmus stay in Lund University (Sweden), where she attended a course in Structural Biology and Bioinformatics. This course was her first experience with computational simulations, and it encouraged her to apply for a Summer internship in Prof. Carme Rovira’s group. There she developed her bachelor thesis about the active site dynamics of a bacterial-glycosidase. Shortly afterwards, she was awarded a collaboration grant with the Inorganic and Organic Chemistry Department to continue her research work.

In 2019, she obtained her Master’s Degree in Atomistic and Multiscale Computational Modelling in Physics, Chemistry and Biochemistry, in the University of Barcelona and Polytechnic University of Catalonia. Her Master Thesis was again written under the supervision of Prof. Rovira, but her field of study was switched to glycosyltransferases, particularly a mammalian O-glycosyltransferase. During this time, she obtained an IQTC initiation to research grant to complete her thesis. She also attended the School on Hybrid Quantum Mechanics/Molecular Mechanics (QM/MM) – Approaches to Biochemistry and Beyond at CECAM-HQ-EPFL.

Reaction catalyzed by N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferase V (MGAT5

In September 2019 she started a PhD in the same group, funded by an AGAUR FI grant. Her research focus is on inverting glycosyltransferases, for example N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase-V (MGAT5), which when overexpressed promotes cancer malignancy. The aim of her work is to study the catalytic mechanism of these enzymes by means of Quantum Mechanics/Molecular Mechanics (QM/MM) simulations, as well as enhanced sampling techniques such as metadynamics. Her collaboration with the group of Prof. G. J. Davies at the York Structural Biology Laboratory (YSBL, UK) about MGAT5 was published last year (https://doi.org/10.1021/acscatal.0c02222).

In her free time, she likes reading (mostly novels and history books), listening to music, watching films and spending time with her friends.