Rafael Palacios obtained the M.D. degree in 1969 from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); and the Ph.D. degree in 1970 under the mentorship of Dr Guillermo Soberon (UNAM). He made a postdoctoral training in Stanford University with Dr Robert Schimke from 1971 to 1973. He is currently Honorary Professor and Coordinator of the International Laboratory for Human Genome Research (LIIGH-UNAM). He has participated in major projects for the Development of Mexican Science: The creation of the Nitrogen Fixation Research Center and its transformation into the Genomic Sciences Center, the creation of the Undergraduate Program in Genomic Sciences, and the creation of the International Laboratory for Human Genome Research, all of them in UNAM. He has received several National and International awards, including the National Price of the Mexican Academy of Sciences (1979), the UNAM Research Price (1986), the Sciences and Arts National Price (1994), the Third World Academy of Sciences International Award (2003). In 2006 he was elected International Member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. His research has focused in the Dynamics of the Genome. His biography has been published (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105: 839-841, 2008).

Research Interests

Palacios research interests are centered in the dynamics of the genome. In particular he is interested in genomic rearrangements that are generated by non-homologous recombination between repeated sequences. These rearrangements include amplifications, deletions, inversions and replicon cointegrations, among others. As model organisms he has focused in microorganisms (E. coli, Rhizobia, S. cerevisiae) as well as in human. His studies have identified rearrangements by methodologies developed in his laboratory, based both in PCR and in total genome sequencing. He has developed the concept of natural genomic design. It consists in analyzing a genome, localizing pairs of repeated sequences, and proposing the different potential rearrangements that such genome could generate by non-homologous genomic recombination. With this information, a sequel of rearrangements is proposed. The first rearrangement is identified and a subpopulation harboring such rearrangement is isolated. From this population, the second rearrangement is then identified and a new subpopulation containing it is isolated. The process continues until a subpopulation containing all the proposed rearrangements is isolated. The natural genomic design allows, without introducing any genetic element into the genome, to conduct a genome from its initial structure to a desired novel structure.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 26: Genetics

Secondary Section

Section 25: Plant Biology