Professor Vlad Pena studied biochemistry at the University of Bucharest. In 2005 he completed his PhD in structural biology at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, focusing on the investigation of GTPase activating proteins.
After his PhD, he conducted postdoctoral research at the Max-Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry, Goettingen, Germany, investigating structures of Prp8 and Brr2 – two core components of the spliceosome. After establishing his lab within the same institute in 2010, he studied the structure and function of multi-protein complexes involved in splicing, such as SF3B, the intron-binding complex and the Nineteen complex.
His research enabled characterization of the mechanism of drugs that modulate splicing, as well as the first structural characterization of a DNA catalyst. He was awarded EMBO Young Investigator in 2017.
Professor Pena joined the Division of Structural Biology at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, in 2019, where his research focuses on the structural basis of human pre-mRNA processing under normal, pathological and drug-induced conditions. The goal of his lab is to understand how the nano-machines coordinate their activities to process genetic information.