Research Profile Dr. Pilar Cossio

Pilar Cossio Tejada
  • B.S. Physics, University of Antioquia, Colombia. 2007
  • Ph.D. Physics and Chemistry of Biological Systems. Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA), Trieste, Italy. 2011.
  • Postdoc. NIDDK, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, USA. 2012 - 2013
  • Postdoc. Dept. of Theoretical Biophysics, 2013 - 2016
  • Tandem Group Leader. Max Planck Institute of Biophysics / University of Antioquia, Colombia. 2016 - Present

Research Interests

I have three main research interests:
molecular dynamics simulations with enhanced sampling techniques to study the free energy landscape and conformational dynamics of biomolecules, ii) methods for the analysis of electron microscopy (EM) images and model refinement using individual EM images, and iii) theory and analysis of single-molecule force spectroscopy experiments.

My main goal is to develop mathematical methods to integrate these three lines of research to characterize flexible biomolecules. This will allow to relate kinetic information (such as rates of transitions) from single-molecule experiments to structural states from both imaging experiments and simulations. With my approach, I aim to improve the understanding of protein dynamics and functionality.


P. Cossio, G. Hummer, A. Szabo, “Transition paths in single-molecule force spectroscopy,” J. Chem. Phys. 148, 123309 (2018). []

M. Sebastián, E. Anoz-Carbonell, B. Gracia, P. Cossio, J.A. Aínsa, I.  Lans & M. Medina "Discovery of antimicrobial compounds targeting bacterial type FAD  synthetases", Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry33:1, 241-254 (2017).

Cossio P., D. Rohr, F. Baruffa, M. Rampp, V. Lindenstruth, G. Hummer, “BioEM: GPU-accelerated computing of Bayesian inference of electron microscopy images,” Computer Phys. Commun. 210, 163-171 (2017). [ ]

Cossio P., G. Hummer, A. Szabo, “Kinetic ductility and force-spike resistance of proteins from single-molecule force spectroscopy,” Biophys. J. 111, 832-840 (2016). []

Cossio P., P G. Hummer, and A. Szabo. On artifacts in single-molecule force spectroscopy. Proc Natl Acad Sci, USA. Vol. 112, Issue 46, 14248-53 (2015).

Ceballos A., M. A. Giraldo and P. Cossio. Effects of a disulfide bridge prior to amyloid formation of the ABRI peptide. RSC Advances. Vol. 4, Issue 70, 36923-36928 (2014).

Cossio P., and G. Hummer. Bayesian analysis of individual electron microscopy images: Towards structures of dynamic and heterogeneous biomolecular assemblies. Journal of Structural Biology. Vol. 184, Issue 3, 427-437 (2013).

Sartia, S. Zamuner, P. Cossio, A. Laio, F. Seno, and A. Trovato.BACHSCORE. A tool for evaluating efficiently and reliably the quality of large sets of protein structures. Computer Physics Communications. Vol. 184, Issue 12, 2860-2865 (2013).

Grigoriu, R. Bond, P. Cossio, J. A. Chen, N. Ly, G. Hummer, R. Page, M.S. Cyert, and W. Peti. The molecular mechanism of substrate engagement and immunosuppressant inhibition of calcineurin. PLOS Biology. Vol. 11, Issue 2, e1001492 (2013).

Cossio P., D. Granata, A. Laio, F. Seno, and A. Trovato. A simple and efficient statistical potential for scoring ensembles of protein structures. Scientific Reports. Vol. 2, Number: 351, doi:10.1038/srep00351 (2012).

Baftizadeh, P. Cossio, F. Pietrucci and A. Laio. Protein folding and ligand-enzyme binding from bias-exchange metadynamics simulations. Current Physical Chemistry. Vol. 2, Number 1, 79-91 (2012).

Rossetti*, P. Cossio*, A. Laio and P. Carloni. Conformational ensemble of Huntingtin N-term in aqueous solution explored by atomistic simulations. FEBS Letters. Vol. 585, Issue 19, Pages 3086-3089 (2011). (*equal contributions)

Cossio P., A. Laio. and F. Pietrucci. Which similarity measure is better for analyzing protein structures in a molecular dynamics trajectory? Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. Vol. 13, Issue 22, 10421- 10425 (2011).

Cossio P., A. Trovato, F. Pietrucci, F. Seno, A. Maritan, and A. Laio. Exploring the universe of protein structures beyond the Protein Data Bank. PLOS Computational Biology. Vol. 6 , Issue 11, e1000957 (2010).

Cossio P., F. Marinelli, Pietrucci F. and Laio, A. Optimizing the Performance of Bias-Exchange Metadynamics: Folding a 48 -Residue LysM Domain Using a Coarse-Grained Model. Journal of Physical Chemistry B. Vol. 114, Issue 9, 3259-3265 (2010).

Cossio P., and J. Restrepo. Exchange Bias en Bicapas Magnéticas Ferro-Antiferro: Simulación Monte Carlo. Revista Colombiana de Física. Vol. 41, Number 1, 79-81 (2009).

Cossio P., J. Mazo-Zuluaga, J. Restrepo. Critical behavior of ferromagnetic Ising thin films. Physica B: Condensed Matter. Vol. 384, Issue 1-2, 227-229 (2006).

Cossio P., J. Mazo-Zuluaga and J. Restrepo. Simulación Monte Carlo de películas delgadas ferromagnéticas. Revista Colombiana de Física. Vol. 38, Number 4, 1475-1478 (2006).


Max Planck Institute of Biophysics

Dr. Pilar Cossio
Biophysics of Tropical Diseases Group
Max Planck Institute of Biophysics / University of Antioquia, Colombia

Phone: +57 4 5167770 ext. 1032

E-Mail: pilar.cossio(at)

Max Planck Tandem Group:

Group Leader