Ernesto Bustamante

Ernesto Bustamante

Ernesto Bustamante (born May 19, 1950 in Lima, Peru) is a prominent scientist known for his expertise and contributions to the field of molecular biology.


Bustamante holds a B.S. in biology from the Universidad Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru, an M.S. in biochemistry from the Universidad Cayetano Heredia in Lima, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States.

He has contributed to science in both the academic and the corporate worlds.

Academic life

In academia, he has served as professor of biochemistry at Universidad Cayetano Heredia (Lima, Peru) during eight years (1977-1984). He also was visiting professor, research fellow, visiting researcher, or research scholar at the following institutions: The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, Maryland, USA) [1979, 1980, 1981, 1984] , Universidad de Chile Facultad de Ciencias (Santiago, Chile) [1980, 1981] , and recently at the School of Medicine of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA) [2002-2005] .

Bustamante was a fellow from the Ford Foundation, The Commonwealth Fund of New York, Eli Lilly and Company's Pre-doctoral Fellowship in Biology, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., and The Rockefeller Foundation. In 2002 he was awarded competitively a Breast Cancer Concept Award by the U.S. Department of Defense as recommended by the Congressionally-directed Medical Research Programs []

He has published nearly thirty peer-reviewed original research articles in the specialty of mitochondrial bioenergetics and molecular biology []

His largest contribution to biochemistry and cell biology was to demonstrate that the mitochondrial hexokinase is the enzyme responsible for driving the high rates of glycolysis that occur under aerobic conditions characteristic of rapidly-growing malignant tumor cells [] , [] , [] . Since then, aerobic glycolysis by malignant tumors is utilized clinically to diagnose and monitor treatment responses of cancers by imaging uptake of 2-18F-2-deoxyglucose (a radioactive modified hexokinase substrate) with positron emission tomography (PET) [] , []

In 2005, he published a research article that demonstrates that the functional association of glucokinase (a hexokinase isoform) to mitochondrial metabolism and intracellular signaling of apoptosis in normal liver is actually not mediated by a physical association of this enzyme with mitochondria or either their inner membrane or outer membrane [] as was recently proposed by others.

Corporate work

In the corporate world, Bustamante was founding president and managing director (1978-2001) of "AB Chimica Laboratorios SA", the first Peruvian company dedicated to manufacturing diagnostic kits and medical devices for use in clinical laboratories. He also was founding president and managing director [1985-2001) of "BelgaMedica SA", a leading clinical laboratory originally associated with Laboratoire Central, at the time the largest clinical laboratory in Belgium. BelgaMedica was the laboratory that in 1985 identified serologically the first eight cases of HIV infection in Peru [] .

He also was technical and commercial representative of U.S. and European companies in the medical and clinical diagnostics fields, such as with the S"ociété Française d’Équipement Hospitalier" [] , managing a French-government funded, six-million dollar project that entailed the partial renovation of "Hospital Arzobispo Loayza" (Lima, Peru) between 1996 and 2000.

In the area of public diffusion of science, he has contributed with hundreds of conferences and lectures, and he has written numerous newspaper and magazine articles [] , [] , [] , [] in the fields of clinical chemistry, medical biotechnology, medical biochemistry, molecular genetics, lipid biochemistry, genetically modified food, genetically modified organisms, irradiated food, and in the area of DNA technology for paternity analysis.The conferences and lectures have been given at various universities and professional organizations, including Colegio Médico del Perú, Colegio de Abogados de Lima, Colegio de Biólogos del Perú, Sociedad Peruana de Medicina General, and others.

He has made multidisciplinary contributions to Peruvian society, as these four emblematic cases may show:(a) Campaign against deceitful advertising on labels and inappropriate use of Omega-3 and Omega-6 as food additives in milk and eggs, which resulted in an investigation by the regulatory agency, Indecopi, against the food-processing companies Nestlé, Gloria, and Laive [] , [] .(b) Successful identification of human remains of eleven officers of the Peruvian Navy, disappeared at the Nanay River (a tributary to the Amazon River), using forensic DNA analysis [] .(c) DNA analysis methodology for the correct identification of hundreds of cadavers of victims of the catastrophic fire that destroyed the "Mesa Redonda" Shopping Center [] .(d) Food and Products of Transgenic Origin (GMO): their impact on the Peruvian economy [] , [] .

Public activities

Bustamante regularly publishes articles on political analysis in Peruvian newspapers and magazines; he is a political analyst and Op-Ed columnist for the leading Peruvian newspaper "El Comercio" [] , [] , [] , [] . As to his political contributions, during the legislative period 2000-2001 he served as "ad honorem" consultant on the Comisión de Reforma de Códigos of the Congress of Peru and a member of the Study Group in charge of the Legislative Bill 00203, which proposed norms to protect the human genetic patrimony and to prevent and criminalize discrimination on the basis of genetic factors. This became Law 27636 that modified Art. 324 of the Peruvian Penal Code. During the legislative period 2001-2002, he served as ad honorem consultant on the SubComisión de Ciencia y Tecnología of the Congress of Peru. This became Law 28303, or Law of Science, Technology and Technological Innovation [] .

In 2001, Bustamante was named to serve as national expert on the National Biosafety Group of Consejo Nacional del Ambiente, CONAM (National Environmental Council) [] . In 2005 he was designated president of a transitory committee in charge of writing a new Bill to regulate the work of biologists to be presented to the Congress of Perú. The resulting proposal was passed by Congress in 2006 and is now Law 28847 [] . Between 2001 and 2005 he administered the Internet science interest group Biologia [] run by the Red Científica Peruana consisting of over 450 members. He is a consultant to the Internet sexuality group Sexalud, run by Terra Lycos for Spain and Latin America [] .

In April 2007, Bustamante was elected to serve a two-year term as president of the Colegio de Biólogos del Perú [] , a professional organization -created by law- consisting of over 7,400 registered Peruvian biologists. In May 2008 he was elected to serve a one-year term as member of the Board of Directors of the Consejo Nacional de Decanos de los Colegios Profesionales del Perú (CDCP) [] , which is a federation -created by law- of deans from over 30 recognized professional organizations in Peru encompassing about 600,000 professional graduates.

Effective April 2008, Bustamante was elected [ ] , [] member of the board of directors of the Consejo Nacional del Ambiente, CONAM [] -the top national environmental authority that also rules on biodiversity and biosafety issues. He is considered an opinion leader in the matter of potential impact of GMOs on biodiversity in Peru and their safety, [] and is an advocate of the benefits of modern biotechnology on the economy [] , [] , [] , [] , [] , [] , [] , [] , [] , [] , [] , [] , [] .

Bustamante is currently the scientific director of BioGenomica (, a company specializing in DNA paternity and parentage testing serving the Peruvian and international markets.

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