Rafael Peña Miller

Systems Biology and Synthetic Biology Laboratory Researcher

Associate Professor

Academic history

Rafael Peña Miller was born in Mexico City where he obtained a degree in Mathematics from UNAM. He obtained a PhD in Mathematics from Imperial College London, funded by a CONACYT-MEXICO scholarship. One of the publications that emanated from his doctoral research was chosen as the winner of the Lee Segel Prize, a biannual prize awarded by the Society for Mathematical Biology to the best article published in the area of ??mathematical biology. Later, he was a posdoctoral researcher at Biosciences, University of Exeter and in Zoology, University of Oxford, where he participated in several projects in the interface between mathematical modeling and experimental microbiology. He has been invited to do research stays in Switzerland, Spain and Germany. In 2015 he was awarded a Newton Advanced Fellowship by the Royal Society of the United Kingdom.

He is currently an Assistant Professor at the Systems and Synthetic Biology Laboratory of the Center for Genomic Sciences, UNAM, studying the genetic and metabolic mechanisms that enable bacterial communities to implement collective strategies to survive – and thrive – in hostile and rapidly-changing environments.

Specific projects in the Peña-Miller Lab can be grouped into four general areas: 1) using mathematical modelling and experimental evolution to study how environments with complex spatio-temporal structure modulate antibiotic-resistance fitness landscapes. 2) using single-cell microfluidics and image analysis to studying gene regulatory mechanisms that produce phenotypic heterogeneity in a population of genetically-identical cells. 3) modelling the interaction between mobile genetic elements, their bacterial hosts, and the environment. 4) studying how multispecies microbial communities are assembled, with the aim of rationally designing (and controlling) stable and robust synthetic microbial consortia.



Selected publications

Multicopy plasmids allow bacteria to escape from fitness trade-offs during evolutionary innovation
J Rodriguez-Beltran, JCR Hernandez-Beltran, J DelaFuente, JAEscudero, A Fuentes-Hernandez, RC MacLean, R Peña-Miller and Alvaro San Millan
Nature Ecology and Evolution, Vol 2, 873–881 (2018).

Antibiotic cycling and antibiotic mixing: which one best mitigates antibiotic resistance?
R. Beardmore, R. Peña-Miller, F. Gori and J. Iridell.
Molecular Biology and Evolution, msw292 (2017).

Using a sequential regimen to eliminate bacteria at sub-lethal antibiotic dosages
A. Fuentes-Hernandez, J. Plucain, F. Gori, R. Peña-Miller, C. Reding, G. Jansen, H. Schulenburg, I. Gudelj and R. Beardmore
PLoS Biology, Vol. 12, No. 8 (2015).

Positive selection and compensatory adaptation interact to stabilize non-transmissible plasmids
A. San Millan, R. Peña-Miller, M. Toll-Riera, Z. Halbert, A. McLean, B. Cooper and C. MacLean
Nature Communications, Vol. 5, No. 5208 (2014).

Bistable expression of virulence genes in Salmonella leads to the formation of an antibiotic-tolerant subpopulation
M. Arnoldini, I. Avalos Vizcarra, R. Peña-Miller, N. Stocker, M. Diard, V. Vogel, R. Beardmore, W.-D. Hardt and M. Ackermann
PLoS Biology, Vol 12, No. 8 (2014).

When the most potent combination of antibiotics selects for the greatest bacterial load: the smile frown transition.
R. Peña-Miller, Lähnemann, Jansen, Fuentes-Hernandez, Rosenthiel, Schulenburg and Beardmore.
PLoS Biology, Vol. 11, No.4 (2013).

Selecting against antibiotic-resistant pathogens: optimal treatments in the presence of commensal bacteria *
R. Peña-Miller, D. Lähnemann, H. Schulenburg, M. Ackermann and R. Beardmore
Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, Vol 74, No. 4 pp. 908-943 (2011). (*Winner of the Lee Segel Prize)

Telephone: (777) 3291686
Email: rpm@ccg.unam.mx


2018Rodriguez-Beltran, J., Hernandez-Beltran, J.C.R., Delafuente, J., Escudero, J.A., Fuentes-Hernandez, A., MacLean, R.C., Peña-Miller, R., San Millan, A. (2018) Multicopy plasmids allow bacteria to escape from fitness trade-offs during evolutionary innovation Nature Ecology & Evolution 2(5):873-881 [doi:10.1038/s41559-018-0529-z]29632354
2017Beardmore, Robert Eric, Pena-Miller, Rafael, Gori, Fabio, Iredell, Jonathan (2017) Antibiotic Cycling and Antibiotic Mixing: Which One Best Mitigates Antibiotic Resistance? MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION 34(4):802-817 [doi:10.1093/molbev/msw292]28096304
2015Fuentes-Hernandez, Ayari, Plucain, Jessica, Gori, Fabio, Pena-Miller, Rafael, Reding, Carlos, Jansen, Gunther, Schulenburg, Hinrich, Gudelj, Ivana, Beardmore, Robert (2015) Using a Sequential Regimen to Eliminate Bacteria at Sublethal Antibiotic Dosages Plos Biology 13(4):e1002104- [doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002104]25853342
2014Peña-Miller, R., Fuentes-Hernandez, A., Reding, C., Gudelj, I., Beardmore, R. (2014) Testing the optimality properties of a dual antibiotic treatment in a two-locus, two-allele model Journal Of The Royal Society Interface 11(96):20131035-20131035 [doi:10.1098/rsif.2013.1035]24812050
2014San Millan, A., Pena-Miller, R., Toll-Riera, M., Halbert, Z. V., McLean, A. R., Cooper, B. S., MacLean, R. C. (2014) Positive selection and compensatory adaptation interact to stabilize non-transmissible plasmids Nature Communications 5():5208-5208 [doi:10.1038/ncomms6208]25302567
2014Arnoldini, Markus, Vizcarra, Ima Avalos, Pena-Miller, Rafael, Stocker, Nicolas, Diard, Mederic, Vogel, Viola, Beardmore, Robert E., Hardt, Wolf-Dietrich, Ackermann, Martin (2014) Bistable Expression of Virulence Genes in Salmonella Leads to the Formation of an Antibiotic-Tolerant Subpopulation Plos Biology 12(8):e1001928- [doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001928]25136970