Anne-Florence Bitbol receives IUPAP Prize

Anne-Florence Bitbol. Credit: EPFL

Anne-Florence Bitbol. Credit: EPFL

Professor Anne-Florence Bitbol at EPFL’s School of Life Sciences has been awarded the IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Biological Physics.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) is the only international physics organization that is organized and run by the physics community itself. Its members are identified physics communities in countries or regions around the world. IUPAP was established in 1922 in Brussels with 13 Member countries and the first General Assembly was held in 1923 in Paris. It currently has 60 country members.

In 1990, IUPAP established the Commission on Biological Physics (C6) “to promote the exchange of information and views among the members of the international scientific community in the general field of Biological Physics.”

Each year, C6 awards the Early Career Scientist Prize to recognize “exceptional achievements of scientists in the field of Biological Physics at a relatively early stage of their career.” The Prize recipients must be no more than eight years past the award of their PhDs, and “have demonstrated significant scientific achievements and display exceptional promise for future achievements in Biological Physics.”

Among the latest recipients of the Prize is Professor Anne-Florence Bitbol at EPFL’s School of Life Sciences “for her significant contributions to predicting protein-protein interactions from sequence data and to modeling the evolution of microbial populations with complex spatial structures or time-varying environments, employing methods inspired by statistical physics.” Professor Bitbol received the Prize at the ICBP 2023 conference.

“I am extremely honored to receive the IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Biological Physics,” says Bitbol. “I wholeheartedly thank the IUPAP C6 Commission for this great encouragement. I also thank the organizers of ICBP2023 for putting together such a great conference.”

About Anne-Florence Bitbol

Anne-Florence Bitbol is an Assistant Professor at EPFL, directing the Laboratory of Computational Biology and Theoretical Biophysics within the Institute of Bioengineering, also affiliated to the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. She studied physics at ENS Lyon and obtained her PhD in 2012 at Université Paris-Diderot, advised by Jean-Baptiste Fournier. She then joined the Princeton Biophysics Theory group led by William Bialek, Curtis Callan, and Ned Wingreen, as an HFSP Postdoctoral Fellow. In 2016 she became an independent CNRS researcher at Laboratoire Jean Perrin of Sorbonne Université in Paris, before joining EPFL in 2020.

Her research focuses broadly on understanding biological phenomena through physical concepts and mathematical and computational tools. Using biophysical approaches, she investigates the impact of optimization and historical contingency on biological systems, from the molecular scale to the population scale.

In particular, she studies how the protein sequence-function relationship is affected by phylogeny and physical constraints, and has proposed methods to predict protein-protein interactions from sequences. Her research also assesses how microbial population evolution is impacted by spatial structure and environment changes. This includes studying antibiotic-resistance evolution, as well as the evolution of bacteria in the gut. Bitbol currently holds an ERC Starting Grant.