Dr. Villegas earned a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. At Weizmann, in the Department of Structural Biology, he will be working to quantify the influence of protein structural elements on the interactions between proteins. This has implications for the engineering of protein-based biopharmaceuticals, a multi-billion dollar industry, but one that is capital-intensive and time-consuming. One reason is the lack of a clear set of rules governing how proteins interact with other proteins in living cells. Dr. Villegas will analyze known protein-protein interfaces statistically in order to identify recurring patterns, then develop and test hypotheses as to the minimal structural requirements for protein-protein interactions (PPIs), using living cells for his experiments. He hopes that geneticists use his discovered sequence patterns to mine genomic data for previously unknown genetic interactions, evolutionary biologists use the structure patterns to provide explanations as to the origin and evolution of PPIs, and medicinal chemists apply this knowledge to the design of protein-based therapeutics. He is fluent in English and Spanish and has experience establishing connections between cultures from his time visiting homes for the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program in New York City.