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Michele Parrinello

Researcher - Principal Investigator
Professor of Computational Sciences

Research Line

Atomistic Simulations


IIT Central Research Labs Genova


USI Lugano, Via Giuseppe Buffi 13, 6900 Lugano, Switzerland
+41 (0)58 666 48 01


Michele Parrinello is currently Professor at ETH Zurich, and the Università della Svizzera Italiana Lugano, Switzerland. Together with Roberto Car he introduced the ab-initio molecular dynamics method, which he is still developing and applying. This method, which goes under the name of Car-Parrinello Method, represents the beginning of a new field and has dramatically influenced the field of electronic structure calculations for solids, liquids and molecules. He is also known for the Parrinello-Rahman method of molecular dynamics, which permits the study of crystalline phase transitions under constant pressure. Lately he has developed metadynamics, a new method for the study of rare events and the calculation of free energies. Parrinello’s scientific interests are strongly interdisciplinary and include the study of complex chemical reactions, materials science and protein dynamics. Professor Michele Parrinello was born in Messina, Italy, and obtained his degree in physics in 1968 from the University of Bologna, Italy. Prior to moving to Switzerland in 2001 he was Director at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany, and before that his positions included research staff member at the IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich, Switzerland, and full professor at SISSA, Trieste, Italy. He has been a Visiting Scientist at many institutions. For his research Parrinello has been awarded numerous prizes, including the 2001 American Chemical Society Award in Theoretical Chemistry, the 1995 Rahman prize of the American Physical Society, the 1990 Hewlett-Packard Europhysics prize, the 2009 Dirac Medal, the 2011 Marcel Benoist Prize and the 2017 Dreyfus Prize. He is a member of several academies among which the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy for Arts and Sciences, the British Royal Society and the Italian Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. He is author of more than 600 publications and his work is highly cited.


Molecular simulations, machine learning, and integrative structural biology.

Proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids interact, rearrange, and modify their shape while effecting their functions in every living cell. We develop computational methods, including advanced molecular simulations and machine learning approaches, with the aim of understanding the complex structure-dynamics-function interplay in biomolecules. We also apply methods to integrate computer simulations and experimental data to tackle problems for which experiment or computation alone do not provide an answer. The final goal of our research is to provide powerful, robust, and predictive computational tools to advance our understanding of biological processes, to rationally design drugs and to gain mechanistic insights into disease-causing genetic mutations.

Selected Publications




Hewlett-Packard Europhysics Prize (with R. Car), European Physical Society (1990) Boys-Rahman Prize, Royal Society of Chemistry, UK (1994) Rahman Prize (with R. Car), American Physical Society (1995) Award in Theoretical Chemistry, American Chemical Society (2001) Schroedinger Medal of the World Association of Theoretically Oriented Chemists (2005) Triennial Somaini Physics Prize, Italian Physical Society (2006) Gutenberg Lecture Award, University of Mainz, Germany (2008) FOMMS Medal Award, University of Michigan, USA (2009) Sidney Fernbach Award (with R. Car), IEEE Computer Society, USA (2009) Dirac Medal (with R. Car), ICTP Trieste, Italy (2009) Berni J. Alder CECAM Prize (with R. Car), CECAM, Switzerland (2010) Marcel Benoist Prize, Marcel Benoist Stiftung, Federal Dept. of Home Affairs, Switzerland (2011) Enrico Fermi Prize, Italian Physical Society, Italy (2012) Hirschfelder Prize, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA (2012) Grande Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana (2012) The Dreyfus Prize in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, New York, USA (2017) ISQBP President’s Award, The International Society of Quantum Biology and Pharmacology, Barcelona, Spain (2018) Ertl Lecture Award, Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany (2018), Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry (with R. Car), The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, USA (2020), European Chemistry Gold Medal 2020, The European Chemical Society, Brussels, Belgium

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Former Colleagues


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