6th International Synthetic & Systems Biology Summer School   |   Scuola Normale Superiore - Pisa - Tuscany - Italy   |  July 22-26, 2019


Our Valuable Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Adam Arkin

University of California, Berkeley, USA
Systems & Synthetic Biology & Microbiology/Virology

Andrea Califano

Columbia University, USA
Systems Biology, Cell Regulatory Networks, Cancer tumorigenesis & Drug Resistance


Andrea Califano is the Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Chemical Systems Biology at Columbia University Medical Center. He is the Founding Chair of the Department of Systems Biology, Director of the JP Sulzberger Columbia Genome Center, and Associate Director for Bioinformatics of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, and also holds appointments in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics and Department of Biomedical Informatics.

After completing a doctoral thesis in physics at the University of Florence, Italy, Dr. Califano worked at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center, where he became involved in computational biology in 1990. In 1997 he became program director of the IBM Computational Biology Center. In 2000 he co-founded First Genetic Trust, Inc. to pursue translational genomics research. Finally, he joined Columbia in 2003.

Dr. Califano is very active nationally, serving on numerous editorial and scientific advisory boards, including the Board of Scientific Advisors of the National Cancer Institute, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, The MIT Koch Cancer Center, Cancer Genetics Inc., and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., among others. He has served as chair or co-chair of many international conferences and meetings, including the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR); the RECOMB-ISCB Conference on Regulatory and Systems Genomics, with DREAM Challenges; Keystone Conferences; as well as several special conferences of the AACR on genomics and cancer systems biology.

Jason Chin

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK
Genetic Code Reprogramming

Virginia Cornish

Columbia University, USA
Synthetic Biology, Chemical Complementation & Ribosome Chemistry

John Glass

J. Craig Venter Institute, USA
Minimal Cell, Building and engineering of genomes and chromosomes


Dr. John Glass is a Professor and leader of the JCVI Synthetic Biology and Bioenergy Group. His expertise is in molecular biology, microbial pathogenesis, RNA virology, and microbial genomics. Glass is part of the Venter Institute team that created a synthetic bacterial cell. In reaching this milestone the Venter Institute scientists developed the fundamental techniques of the new field of synthetic genomics including genome transplantation and genome assembly. Glass was also leader of the JCVI project that rapidly made synthetic influenza virus vaccine strains in collaboration with Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc. and Synthetic Genomics, Inc. At the JCVI he has also led the bacterial outer membrane vesicle based vaccine, genome transplantation, and Mycoplasma genitalium minimal genome projects, and projects studying other mycoplasma and ureaplasma species. Glass and his Venter Institute colleagues are now using synthetic biology and synthetic genomics approaches developed at the JCVI to create cells and organelles with redesigned genomes to make microbes that can produce biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and industrially valuable molecules. Glass is an adjunct faculty member of the University of Maryland at College Park Cellular and Molecular Biology Program, and member of the Global Viral Network Scientific Leadership Board.

Prior to joining the JCVI, Glass spent five years in the Infectious Diseases Research Division of the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. There he directed a hepatitis C virology group and a microbial genomics group (1998-2003).

Glass earned his undergraduate (Biology) and graduate degrees (Genetics) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His Ph.D. work was on RNA virus genetics in the laboratory of Gail Wertz. He was on the faculty and did postdoctoral fellowships in the Microbiology Department of the University of Alabama at Birmingham in polio virology with Casey Morrow and mycoplasma pathogenesis with Gail Cassell (1990-1998). On sabbatical leave in Ellson Chen’s lab at Applied Biosystems, Inc.(1995-1997) he sequenced the genome of Ureaplasma parvum and began his study of mycoplasma genomics.

Philip Maini

University of Oxford, UK
Mathematical Biology, Mathematical and Computational Modeling in Developmental Biology, Physiology & Cancer Biology

Karen Polizzi

Imperial College London, UK
Synthetic Biology & In Vivo Biosensors

William Shih

Harvard Medical School, USA
Biomolecular Nanotechnology, Structural DNA Nanotechnology, Tools for diagnostics & therapeutics (nanoparticle adjuvants for vaccines, drug delivery, tissue engineering)

Joerg Stelling

ETH Zürich, Switzerland
Computational Systems Biology, Structural Network Analysis, Dynamic Systems Analysis, Experimental Yeast Biology

Sarah Teichmann

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute & EMBL-EBI, UK
Human Cell Atlas

Danielle Tullman-Ercek

Northwestern University, USA
Protein Engineering & Synthetic Biology


Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro

Imperial College London, UK
Metabolic Engineering


Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro obtained his PhD at the University of Salamanca under the supervision of Prof. Jose Luis Revuelta, the head of the metabolic engineering group. The PhD thesis is about systems metabolic engineering of A. gossypii for the production of vitamins, nucleosides and lipids. It combines modeling, synthetic biology, systems biology and metabolic engineering techniques and it produced numerous research papers and industrial patents (being currently used by BASF). Before that, Rodrigo coursed an MSc in Microbial Biotechnology at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and two undergraduate degrees (Biotechnology and Chemical Engineering) at the University of Salamanca. During his PhD, Rodrigo was a visiting researcher at Prof. Jens Nielsen’s group at Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), at Prof. Jean-Marc Nicaud at INRA (France) and at Prof. Kamisaka’s group at AIST (Japan).

After the PhD, he moved to France thanks to an Agreenskills Marie Curie Fellowship and he performed his postdoc in the group of Jean-Marc Nicaud. Most of his postdoctoral research work was done in the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica. During those years, Rodrigo engineered this organism to 1) produce different compounds (lipids, lipid-derived chemicals, carotenoids, etc), 2) to be able to use low-cost carbon sources such as lignocellulosic materials or starch and 3) to facilitate the recovery of the products by engineering lipid secretion. During the postdoc, Rodrigo has been teaching synthetic biology related subjects at SUP biotech.

Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro is leading a research group at the interface of synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. His research lab is based in the Department of Bioengineering and the Center for Synthetic Biology and Innovation at Imperial College London.