Javier Vargas Balbuena
PhD (Complutense University of Madrid)
Optics and cryo-electron microscopy. 3D reconstruction algorithms, image processing, programming, software development (methods development in cryo-electron microscopy).
Dr. Vargas research plan proposes the exploration of present frontiers in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to solve key current limitations at the computational and image processing levels. Currently, this imaging technique is living a revolution in its capacity to provide close-to-atomic resolution structures of macromolecules. Cryo-EM uses the electron microscope to study nanoscopic biological samples vitrified at cryogenic temperatures in an amorphous ice layer. However, image processing for the analysis of single particles in cryo-EM is still technically challenging. My research focused on developing innovative computational methods to convert cryo-EM into a trustful and high-performance technique. This includes among others the following specific points: 1) Development of new image processing techniques to efficient 3D classification of continuous and discrete conformational sample heterogeneity; 2) Automatic image quality assessment of EM data; 3) Design of automatic validation measures for cryo-EM structures; 4) New ways to extract the maximum of information from novel detectors.