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Francisco graduated from the University of California, Davis in 2017 with a B.Sc. in Biological Systems Engineering. In 2019 he obtained his M.Sc. in Biotechnology from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. Before starting his PhD, he worked as a computational biologist for one year at EMBL Heidelberg, Germany.

Research Interests:

There are trillions of microbial cells living on our bodies. Francisco's research focuses the complex metabolism that occurs within networks of microbial communities, such as those found in the human gut microbiome, and how this affect host health. In order to quantitatively study these microbiomes, Francisco applies and develops a metagenomics-driven genome scale metabolic modeling approach, combining a range of bioinformatic, statistical, and machine learning methods. Side interests include applying these approaches to other microbiomes such as oceans, soils, lichen, cheese fermentation cultures, and fossilised faeces, just to name a few.



Key publications: 

Yu JSL, Correia-Melo C, Zorrilla F, Herrera-Dominguez L, Wu MY, Hartl J, Campbell K, Blasche S, Kreidl M, Egger A, Messner CB, Demichev V, Frejwald A, Mülleder M, Howell M, Berman J, Patil KR, Tauqeer Alam M and Ralser M. Microbial communities form rich extracellular metabolomes that foster metabolic interactions and promote drug tolerance. Nature Microbiology 7, 542–555. (2022).

Zorilla F, Buric F, Patil KR and Zelezniak A. metaGEM: reconstruction of genome scale metabolic models directly from metagenomes. Nucleic Acids Research; 49 (21), 126. (2021).

Zrimec J, Kokina M, Jonasson S, Zorrilla F and Zelezniak A. Plastic-degrading potential across the global microbiome correlates with recent pollution trends. mBio; 12 (5). (2021).


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PhD Student

Contact Details

MRC Toxicology Unit
Gleeson Building
Tennis Court Road


Telephone and Email


Person keywords: 
PhD (VC - University of Cambridge)