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by Prof. Dr. Radostina Alexandrova, Institute of Experimental Morphology, Pathology and Anthropology with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Arts published (in Bulgarian see the paper above, which is translated here in English by GoogleTranslate) in Homo Sciens (ISSN 1312 8884), Vol. 13, pages 28-29, 2023

For most people, scientists are fate-kissed magicians, drawn by their imaginations to merge the boundaries between fantasy and reality, turning science into a fairy tale that can make the wildest dreams come true and solve the biggest challenges. But only they know how much work, sleepless nights, disappointments, and perseverance are behind this magic. In the following lines, we will talk about one of them - Prof. Robert Penchovsky, whose achievements boldly paved the way for the future. Robert Penchowski was born in Sofia when absolutely nothing foretold that he was about to spend many years outside his homeland, gathering invaluable knowledge and experience in one of the most authoritative academic institutions in the world. Trips are rare, especially those in the so-called "Western countries". However, changes are knocking at the door, and what was considered impossible until yesterday becomes completely feasible. You have the necessary knowledge, courage, persistence, and a pinch of luck. He received a master's degree in "Biochemistry and Microbiology" from the Biological faculty of SU "St. Kliment Ohridski" in 1994. In 1995, he completed a two-year course for an additional qualification in applied informatics at the Free Faculty at the same university. In 1996, he was a researcher at The Institute of Molecular Biology - Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Arts. In 1997 and 1998, he worked as a programmer for foreign companies, after which he left for the Federal Republic of Germany. There, he was successively a researcher at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (now Institute for Aging Research) in Jena (1998 – 1999) and in Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Birlinghofen Castle, in St. Augustine (1999 – 2002). From 2000 to 2003, he was a doctoral student at the Institute of Genetics at The University of Cologne. In 2003, he acquired "Doctor" degree (Doctor rerum naturalium) in genetics with a dissertation on the topic "Integrated selection of DNA in microreactors as an approach for molecular computation and diagnostics", recognized by the Higher Attestation Commission in Bulgaria.

His postdoctoral specialization is in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Developmental Biology at Yale University in New Haven, USA (2003– 2006). From 2007 to 2010, he worked as a scientific consultant for foreign biotechnological companies. Then, after successfully passing a competition, he became the chief assistant professor of genetics at the Department of Genetics of the Faculty of Biology at the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski". In 2013, he was elected associate professor of genetics, synthetic biology, bioinformatics, and molecular evolution in the same department, and in May 2020, he became a professor. The wheel has turned and continues to gain momentum. And it can not be, for the scientist's noble ambition always energizes it to give your best.

To date, Prof. Penchovsky's name stands in more than 100 publications according to NACID, 97% of which he is the lead author. Their total impact factor exceeds 220, and their number of citations, according to Scopus, is 781 (h-index = 14). According to Google Scholar, Prof. Robert Penchovky's publications have over 1000 citations without self-citation: h-index = 16). He is a member of the "Genetics" Section of the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria since 2014, of the American Chemical Society (since 2005), of the associations of Yale University (Yale Alumni Association - Yale University, since 2006) and the University of Cologne (Köln Alumni– Cologne University, since 2003) He is the head of 12 research projects for a total of BGN 730,000 and is a member of the collective of others 8. His main interests and achievements are in the field of Synthetic biology: design, synthesis, and biochemical testing allosteric ribozymes that are activated or deactivated upon specific binding of certain DNA/RNA oligomers or small molecules and creating allosteric ribozymes to detect the length of specific RNA molecules. Bioinformatics and Molecular Evolution, Bioinformatics Software and Database: Prof. Penchovsky is the creator of algorithms for the computational design of RNA biosensors with different logical functions like NOT, AND, OR, and YES. They use methods to calculate the secondary structures of RNA molecules.

▪ Bacterial molecular genetics: Development of high-throughput biochemical assays to discover new antibiotics that bind specifically to riboswitches in many human pathogenic bacteria.

▪ Creation of new antibiotic agents to counter one of the biggest challenges of our time – the antibiotic resistance of microorganisms, which currently claims the lives of over one million people annually. The number is expected to grow to 10 million in the mid-21st century if the situation is uncontrolled.

▪ Nanobiotechnology: Design and creation of DNA libraries with encoded binary information and RNA-based nanotransistors.

▪ Microreactors and biotechnology: Design and create microreactors that function as DNA-based computers. Use of microreactors for selection of DNA molecules, molecular diagnostics, new methods for DNA sequencing, and SNP analyses.

Since 2012, Prof. Penchovsky has been the head of the M.Sc. "Genetics and Genomics" programs at the Department of "Genetics" in The Faculty of Biology of the SU (in Bulgarian and English language, for specialists and non-specialists, regular and part-time training). Since 2018, he has been in charge of the postgraduate qualification (SDC) "Modern aspects of biology: bioinformatics, genomics, and synthetic biology'. Since July 2018, he has been the head of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the Competence Center "Clean Technologies and the Environment" at SU, and in July 2023, he will head the newly formed independent Laboratory of Synthetic Biology and Bioinformatics in the Faculty of Biology.

His teaching activities include several master's courses in "Genetic and Cell Engineering" and "Genetics and Genomics" and bachelor's in "Molecular Biology" and "Agrobiotechnologies" in the Faculty of Science of SU, whose programs is the author of: "Bioinformatics and Molecular Evolution"; "Synthetic Biology"; "Genomics"; "Molecular Genetics" and "Bioinformatics". They are under his leadership, prepared and defended 16 diploma theses for obtaining the master's degree in "Genetics and Genomics" and "Genome and cell engineering' to students of 5 five nationalities (Bulgaria, Iraq, Macedonia, and Latvia), as well as 5 dissertations for the acquisition of the ONS "Doctor" in "Genetics - Synthetic Biology' or 'Genetics - Bioinformatics'. There is currently one full-time doctoral student, 1 part-time doctoral student, and one doctoral student in defense procedure. He is also the manager of 6 students who completed the "Contemporary Aspects of Biology: Bioinformatics, Genomics and Synthetic Biology'. His work does not go unnoticed. He was awarded the Award from the National Competition for High Scientific Achievements for scientists from all fields over the age of 35, organized by the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria for the period from2012 to 2014 – for 7 publications in refereed journals with a total impact factor of 37.02 and two chapters in scientific books as first and corresponding author in the field of synthetic biology, bioinformatics, molecular evolution, molecular genetics and the discovery of new antibiotics. On 08/05/2023 received "Certificate of Excellence" at the 7th edition of the International Sensor Technology Research Awards, presented by the company "Scifax", which is approved and registered by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs of India. This is an "Outstanding Scientist Award" with contributions and honoraria achievements in innovative research. His achievements are noted in 'RSC Chemistry World' (2016), 'Nature Methods' (2005), and 'Nature Biotechnology' (2005). One of his articles ("Engineering Antisense Oligonucleotides as Antibacterial Agents That Target FMN Riboswitches and Inhibits the Growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli”) is a choice to the editor of the American Chemical Society.

The achievements of their students best tell the success of teachers. Under Prof. Penchovsky's leadership, four young scientists have won 5 awards from 2021 to 2023. Among them are "Ph.D. student of the year" for the academic year 2021/2022 of Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" (to Georgi Miloshev); first place on the National Competition "Young and Energetic Scientists" for 2021 in the category for doctoral students (Antonia Georgieva); first and second prize from the national annual competition of the Foundation "Acad. Prof. Dr. Stefan Angelov" for the best scientific work of a young microbiologist from the country for 2023 (assistant Dr. Martina Traykovska and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Nicolet Pavlova); second place in the competition for start-up companies EWA 2022 in Bulgaria, organized by the Regional Agency for Entrepreneurship and innovations - Varna (RAPIV) for a project in the field of water purification with algae (Antonia Georgieva). All of them are doctoral students and have worked/are working on projects funded by the Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of Education and Science with scientific supervisor Prof. Dr. Robert Penchovsky.

Prof. Penchovsky has made many appearances in mass media, including Bulgarian National Radio, the websites of the Scientific Research Fund, and the University of St. Cl. Ohridski". His page on the Internet is a window to the vast universe of science, proof of the high quality of everything it does ( Although his daily schedule is tightly packed, there is always room for his favorite activities. One of the most powerful books that shook him is "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov. The last film he watched was "Oppenheimer," dedicated to the incredible story of the brilliant physicist Robert Oppenheimer, who, by coincidence, headed the Manhattan Project and became the father of the atomic bomb. He also read the biography of his namesake – a work asking difficult questions about choice and price, about life's vicissitudes and compromises that (we do not) we have to do. The most important success in Prof. Penchovsky's life is discovering his formula for happiness - being in harmony with himself and doing the things he loves.