Esteban Domingo received a B.Sc. in Chemistry (1965) and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry (1969) from the University of Barcelona, Spain. He did postdoctoral work at the University of California (UC), Irvine, with Robert C. Warner (1969-1973), and University of Zürich, with Dr. Charles Weissmann (1974-1977). This work permitted the first calculation of a mutation rate and the first evidence of quasispecies dynamics for an RNA virus. He obtained a position of Scientist at Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CSIC-UAM) in Madrid (1976), and was promoted to Professor of Research (CSIC) in 1989. With his group in Madrid, and in collaboration with John Holland at UC San Diego, they established several biological implications of quasispecies dynamics, including the initial evidence of lethal mutagenesis of viruses. Esteban Domingo has published about 350 research papers and several books and book chapters (h index 82). He has received several awards including the degree of Doctor honoris causa from the Universities of Liège (Belgium) (1999), and Bern (Switzerland) (2004). He is a member of EMBO, the European Academy, Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Spain (Real Academia de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales), and foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

The research interests of Esteban Domingo include the understanding of quasispecies dynamics for virus evolution and pathogenesis, and the development of antiviral strategies that can overcome the adaptive potential of viral populations. The work of his team in Madrid has been centered on foot-and-mouth disease virus and hepatitis C virus (HCV), and it has involved also collaborative studies on other viral pathogens such as lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, West Nile virus, and Rift Valley fever virus. Work has been initiated with the emergent SARS-CoV-2. Specific investigations include viral extinction mediated by nucleotide analogues, synergies between mutagenic and non-mutagenic antiviral agents, sequential versus combination administration of antiviral agents, and the molecular events underlying virus extinction. The group has documented that high HCV fitness is a multi-drug resistance determinant for HCV, and investigations on how fitness landscapes can modify the response to antiviral agents are ongoing. A more general aim is to connect observations of viral dynamics in cell culture with those in infected patients, aided by deep sequencing information. A current challenge in the field ?which is now under investigation by the Domingo's team in collaboration with others-is establishing a possible influence of short-term (quasispecies-dictated) evolution on long-term (epidemiologically relevant) virus evolution.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology