Dr. Pontel graduated in Biotechnology at the National University of Rosario, Argentina. He pursued a PhD in Biological Sciences at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology of Rosario, Argentina funded by a fellowship from CONICET (Argentina Scientific Research Council). In 2010, he visited Prof. McClelland Lab (University of California at Irvine) funded by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). In 2012, He joined Prof. KJ Patel´s laboratory, at the renowned Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Medical Research Council), Cambridge, UK.
During five years, Pontel focused on studying how metabolism drives human diseases such as Fanconi Anemia and cancer. In this period, he revealed the damaging effects of endogenous formaldehyde (FA) in mammals, showing that this metabolite can be a stem cell toxin and a carcinogen. Pontel has also contributed with the breakthrough discovery that the degradation of the essential cofactor folate can release genotoxic FA and with the identification of patients harbouring mutations in genes coding for FA-detoxifying enzymes (Pontel, Mol Cell 2015; Burgos Barragan, Nature 2017, Dingler, Mol Cell 2020).
In 2017, Dr. Pontel was awarded a Group Leader position at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine of Buenos Aires (IBioBA-MPSP) to study metabolic sources of cellular damage and their impact on human health. In this position, funded by the Max Planck Society and CONICET, his group has revealed that cellular formaldehyde can react with the antioxidant glutathione leading to cellular redox disruption (Umanksy, Nat comm 2022; Morellato, Redox Biol, 2021; Umansky, Nat comm, 2021).
In 2021, Pontel was awarded a PCI fellowship (International Collaborative Project) by Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (MINCIN)/Agencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI), Spain, and European Union, and joined the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute (Barcelona, Spain). In this stay, Pontel found that epigenetic silencing of anti-ferroptosis factors creates a metabolic vulnerability in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that might be of therapeutic interest (Pontel, Redox Biol, 2022).
Pontel has been recently awarded a Ramón y Cajal Fellowship and appointed as Group Leader at the IJC. His group will focus on the role of metabolism in the origin and progression of hematological tumors.