Alexandre Quintanilha, internationally recognized scientist, was born in Africa and lived in the United States before moving to Porto, where he directed and taught at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology until his retirement. He is currently a Member of Parliament in the Republic Assembly.
He was born in Mozambique on August 9, 1945, son of an Azorean and a German. His father was a famous biologist but Alexander began by studying physics. He graduated in Theoretical Physics at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. He later traveled to the United States and studied at the prestigious University of Berkeley, California. It was during this period and whilst living in San Francisco that he met Richard Zimler, then a student. Zimler, who he later married in Portugal, is nowadays a famous writer as well as a university professor.
Between 1983 and 1990 he was assistant director of the Energy and Environment section at the Lawrence National Laboratory. In the 90’s he was challenged to return to Portugal and help found the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, where he eventually became the director. The arrival to Porto happened at the invitation of the neurologist Corino de Andrade, who at the time was already planning to create the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar. It would be there that Alexandre Quintanilha would teach until he retired. He is the author of publications in the areas of Biology, Environment and Applied Physics. He is the only Portuguese member of the National Geographic Society’s Research and Exploration Council. He has published close to 100 articles in several worldwide scientific journals and was the editor and author of six volumes in areas of Biology and Environment. More than a scientist, Alexandre Quintanilha is a passionate for knowledge. He’s lived in three continents, speaks four languages and likes to question what seems permanent. If at first he felt some difficulties adapting to the city, he quickly became infected by the beauty of Porto and by the friendly way in which he was received.