Rosalba Lagos was born in Santiago, Chile, where she studied Biology at University of Chile. She obtained her PhD in Biochemistry in 1985 at University of Chile, carrying out her PhD thesis working on phages P2 and P4 at the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School. She is currently a Professor at the Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile. With other scientists, in 1987 she founded the first Graduate Program in Microbiology in Chile, and more recently (2012) the Molecular Biotechnology PhD Program also at University of Chile. She also participated in the creation of the career Engineering in Molecular Biotechnology (1996) in the same Institution. Among her positions in academic administration, between 2010-2018 she was the Director of the Graduate School, and between 2004-2006, she was Head of the Biology Department, both at Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile. In addition, since 2010 she is Associate Editor of Biological Research, and was the President of the Chilean Biology Society (2013-2014), the largest Scientific Society in Chile. She was elected Vice-Chair of the Bacterial and Applied Microbiology (BAM) Division of the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS) (2014-2017), and currently she is serving as Chair of this Division (2017-2020). In 2014 she was elected correspondent member and in 2017 numbered member of the Chilean Academy of Science. Since 2019, she is Pro-secretary of this Academy.
Her present research focuses on several aspects of microcin E492, a pore forming bacteriocin, such as the regulation of the expression of the genes necessary for microcin antibacterial activity, and its applications on the design of next generation antibiotics. In addition, the influence of the production of this bacteriocin on Klebsiella pneumoniae pathogenesis is being studied. Another aspect of her research involves the study of amyloid fibrils formed by microcin E492, the characterization of the precursors and toxic structures on bacteria and the cytotoxic effect on tumor cells. She has directed many PhD, Master and undergraduate theses and her work has been published in prestigious international journals. She maintains collaborations with several labs abroad and has been visitant professor in Universities from USA, Europe and Latin America giving seminars and conferences in international meetings.