Felix Ritort


In 1997, Dr Ritort was appointed associate professor of physics at the University of Barcelona (UB) and he became a full professor in 2007 in the area of Condensed Matter Physics. He is the director of the Small Biosystems Lab, conducting research and teaching in the Department of Fundamental Physics. Since 2014, he has served as chairman of the Division of Life Sciences in Physics for the European Physical Society.


He started his research in the area of spin glasses under the direction of Prof G. Parisi at the University of Rome (Italy) in the nineties. He defended his PhD thesis at the UB in 1991 under the supervision of Prof M. Rubi. He has also worked in the fields of structural glasses and glass transition, non-equilibrium aging dynamics, synchronisation models and quantum phase transitions. In 2005, he created the Small Biosystems Lab at the UB with the goal of researching non-equilibrium fluctuations in molecular systems using single-molecule experiments in biophysics. Today his group is world renowned as a leader in applying the best, most powerful methods to extract accurate quantitative information on the thermodynamics and kinetics of molecular interactions.


His scientific research is highly multidisciplinary, at the interface of physics, chemistry and biology. More precisely, his interest has focused on the area of statistical physics with special emphasis on the study of disordered systems and non-equilibrium dynamics. Over the past ten years, Dr Ritort has invested a lot of effort into setting up an experimental lab to conduct ground-breaking research in the field of molecular biophysics as a way to explore the fundamental principles underlying the fascinating complexity of biological matter, where energy and information are inextricably linked. Research in this area has got a boost from the advent of micromanipulation tools and nanotechnology, as well as the possibility of conducting experiments on the level of individual molecules.


Dr Ritort’s scientific research is highly multidisciplinary, at the interface of physics, chemistry and biology. His interest has focused on the area of statistical physics


More recently he has directed his attention to discovering the principles that govern the emergent complexity of evolutionary ensembles in the molecular and cellular world.


The traditional view in biophysics is that physics can be useful for understanding biology. Dr Ritort also believes the opposite is true: that biology can be extremely useful to physics. Living systems have evolved over millions of years under stressful non-equilibrium conditions and he thinks the time has come to put our minds to understanding biology as pure physics. Technological progress working hand-in-hand with the development of creative biological assays may someday clarify the energy-information dilemma in living matter, opening up new lines of scientific thought and, who knows, possibly unveiling to us the physical principle sustaining life.


Professional experience

• 1985-1987: Academy Professor at Cefis, Fert y Humet
• 1988: Research position at Premo SA
• 1989: Teaching assistant at University of Barcelona
• 1990-1991: Doctoral Fellowship from the Spanish Science Ministry at the University of Barcelona
• 1992-1994: CEE Fellowship Human Capital and Mobility at University of Rome
• 1995: Italian Fellowship from the INFN
• 1995-1996: Research contract at the Carlos III University of Madrid
• 1996-1997: Research contract at FOM (University of Amsterdam)
• 1998-2007: Associate professorship at the University of Barcelona
• 2002-2003: Visiting scientist at the University of California in Berkeley
• 2007: Habilitated full professor at the Spanish national level
• 2008-present: Full professor in condensed matter physics at the University of Barcelona



• 1988: Master in Physics, University of Barcelona
• 1991: PhD in Physics, UB. Subject: Several Aspects on Spin Glass Theory. Thesis directors: G. Parisi and J.M. Rubí
• 1992: Extraordinary Doctoral Award, University of Barcelona



• 2001: Honour of the Government of Catalonia
• 2008: ICREA Academia Award
• 2013: Bruker Prize from the Spanish Biophysical Society for his contributions to molecular biophysics research in Spain
• 2013: ICREA Academia Award