. UNIANDES. Physics Department - Juan Manuel Pedraza Leal


Department of Physics

Selector de Idiomas

Juan Manuel Pedraza Leal

Office: BD. Ip-404
Telephone: (571) 339-4949, Ext. 5179
Web Page: CvLAC
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Office Hours: By appointment.

"Research in the area of biology of systems focuses on three aspects: genetic circuits, phenotypic variability, and group selection. Analytical mathematical models are used based on stochastic processes and game theory, Monte Carlo computer models, experiments using the construction of artificial genetic circuits (through molecular biology), fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry, and experimental evolution of microorganisms using robotic systems designed and built in the laboratory.

The area of genetic circuits investigates how to produce, transmit and control the Stochasticity inherent in chemical reactions which determine the functioning of the intracellular genetic circuits, how this variability is affected by the feedback, and how this information is incorporated into artificial circuit design and interpretation of natural circuits. This is necessary to understand the control systems present in the circuits that control the functioning of cells (e.g. how to connect the parts revealed by the human genome) and how to build robust and stable artificial circuits for biotechnological purposes.

The phenotypic variability in isogenic populations is the manifestation of intracellular noise mentioned above. We study how this variability may be beneficial for a population given a changing environment, with emphasis on bacterial persistence (non-genetic resistance to antibiotics). This variability is of great importance for organisms that use it as a survival strategy, while controlling this variability is essential for the proper development of multicellular organisms and has been implicated in susceptibility to mutation.

Such strategies at a population level can be studied through game theory and evolutionary dynamics, which allow the study of conflicts between different levels of evolutionary selection and the emergence of cooperative or altruistic strategies. In particular, the behavior of plasmids (seen as parasites) inside bacteria is a model of altruism that allows to experimentally test the effects of group selection, and this allows to experimentally evaluate in a controlled system, theoretical results that apply in such complex systems as interactions between humans."

Academic degrees:
  • Post Doc in systems biology (Harvard 2006-2010)
  • Ph.D. in Physics (MIT-Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2006)
  • Mathematician (Universidad de los Andes, 2000)
  • Physicist (Universidad de los Andes, 1999)
Research Area:
  • Systems Biology.
Other research interests:
  • Synthetic Biology.
  • Stochastic dynamics of populations.
Current research:
  • Stochasticity in genetic expression. Phenotypic variability as adaptive strategy. Artificial genetic circuits control. Evolution of cooperation.
Current teaching assignment: