Josep Rizo (Jose Rizo-Rey) was born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1959. He received a B.Sc. degree in Organic Chemistry in 1981 from the University of Barcelona. During these college studies, he became very interested in quantum field theory and statistical mechanics, which led him to obtain a second B.Sc. degree, this time in theoretical physics, from the same University in 1988. During the 1982-1988 period, he also obtained M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in organic chemistry from the University of Barcelona, working in the laboratories of Ernest Giralt and Enrique Pedroso. He first worked on pioneering methodology to analyze peptides attached to solid supports by gel-phase 13C NMR spectroscopy, and later on the development of polar protecting groups for peptide synthesis. In 1989 he started postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Lila Gierasch at UT Southwestern, working on conformational studies of a variety of peptides by NMR spectroscopy and molecular dynamics. In the early 1990s he shifted his interest to protein NMR and protein folding. He established his independent research group in 1995 at UT Southwestern. The main focus of his research is the study of the mechanisms of neurotransmitter release and intracellular membrane fusion using structural biology, a variety of biophysical techniques and reconstitution approaches. He is currently a Professor in the Departments of Biophysics, Biochemistry and Pharmacology, and he serves as the Chair of the Molecular Biophysics graduate program.

A bilingual environment in Barcelona, where most people speaks Catalan and Spanish, together with his move to the US, have led to a duality of names: his official name is Jose Rizo-Rey, but he signs all his publications as Josep Rizo.