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About Us

Our Vision

The natural world consists of hierarchical levels of complexity that range from subatomic particles and molecules to ecosystems and beyond.

This implies that, in order to explain the features and behavior of a whole system, a theory might be required that would operate at the corresponding hierarchical level, i.e. where self-organization processes take place.

In the past, biological research has focused on questions that could be addressed by a reductionist program of genetics.

The organism (and its development) is currently considered an epiphenomenon of its genes. However, a profound rethinking of the biological paradigm is now underway and it is likely that such a process will lead to a conceptual revolution emerging from the ashes of reductionism.

This revolution implies the search for general principles on which a cogent theory of biology might rely. Because much of the logic of living systems is located at higher levels, it is imperative to focus on them. Indeed, both evolution and physiology work on these levels.

Thus, by no means Systems Biology could be viewed a ‘simple’ ‘gradual’ extension of Molecular Biology.

Research Area

Tumor Reversion

Phase transitions processes

The pathogenesis of several degenerative diseases, including cancer, mostly relies on a cell/tissue differentiation process ‘gone awry’.

A complex system is highly sensitive even to subtle changes in the surrounding milieu (the so-called morphogenetic field) when it enters near some critical points (the bifurcation points leading to metastable states, according to the Waddington’s landscape framework).

At these points, the system can experience a phase-transition, leading to different cell fate specification, upon the influence of different physical and molecular (namely toxicant, like nicotine) factors.

Thereby, it is of priceless value understanding the non-linear dynamics of such processes, to capture their architecture by means a proper mathematical modelling, and how to modify them through a pharmacological approach.

Namely, the natural polyol Inositol (and its phosphate derivatives) is investigated thoroughly, given that inositol showed to modulate epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT vs MET) by targeting the expression of several genes, the activation of the PI3K pathway, as well as the apoptotic process. By modulating EMT vs MET, Inositol can antagonize first steps of carcinogenesis while, by inhibiting apoptosis in normal cells it can easily counteract chemotherapy-induced effects on megakaryocytes. As inositol undergoes a complex metabolic transformation inside the cell, an in depth metabolomic study is currently ongoing to evaluate its metabolic fate.

Modulation of EMT is also at the core of the gene reprogramming that occur during tumor reversion. Tumor reversion induced by physical or molecular cues has been already reported.

We are investigating such processes by means of a model based on the therapeutic potential represented by protein extracts from embryo fish. Embryo fish extracts promote apoptosis and/or foster differentiation/reversion in different cancer types, both in vitro as well as in vivo.

Understanding how both inositol and embryo fish extract modulate phase transitions in cancer cells is therefore of critical relevance for translational medicine.

Read more »

Developmental processes and theory of the organisms

Study of the developmental processes points primarily on early oocyte/embryo differentiating processes occurring during the early life stages.

We are investigating pathways involved in oocyte maturation (namely those involving steroidogenesis) by pointing out how changes in the overall cytoskeleton organization and in the oocyte/microenvironment cross talk can efficiently modulate oocyte maturation and further the implantation process.

To address these issues we are using a 3D-model – involving both the oocyte and an experimental reconstituted endometrium-like scaffold. The modulatory role of natural pharmacological compounds (like inositol, melatonin and α-lipoic acid) is under scrutiny to evaluate is such nutraceutical manipulation can improve the oocyte maturation process.

Furthermore, the potential utility of such compounds in treatment of infertility disorders (like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is currently under scrutiny.

Phenotypic Differentiation

Biophysical constraints

Phenotypic differentiation is underpinned by a complex molecular program, which involves both complex gene-regulatory circuits (behaving according to a non-linear dynamics) and molecular signaling.

However, these factors exert only a permissive role, while a more prominent effect is exercised by internal/external constraints (namely of physical origin), acting as instructive cues.

A paradigmatic example is provided by gravity, which showed to be instrumental in shaping cell differentiation in many experimental models.

We are investigating how microgravity and other physical cues may efficiently influence cell fate transitions in both normal and pathological conditions.

Moreover, as the effects of physical cues are mostly conveyed through the cytoskeleton (CSK) and the specialized cell-to-cell and cell-matrix adhesion structures, we are especially committed in investigating cytoskeleton and nucleoskeleton quantitative structure and dynamics.

To achieve a reliable systems biology representation of such complex processes, tailored, mathematical modelling approaches and high performance computing studies are usually developed.

SBGLab Team

Mariano<br>Bizzarri

Mariano
Bizzarri

Mariano Bizzarri PhD, M.D., is Associate Professor of Clinical Pathology in the Department of Experimental Medicine at University Sapienza, Rome (Italy).

Alessandra<br>Cucina

Alessandra
Cucina

Alessandra Cucina PhD, is a researcher at the Laboratory of Experimental Research Castro Laurenziano of “Pietro Valdoni” Department of Surgery, “La Sapienza” University, Rome, Italy.

Alessandro<br>Giuliani

Alessandro
Giuliani

Alessandro Giuliani is involved since more than thirty years in the generation and testing of soft physical and statistical models for life sciences.

Sara<br>Proietti

Sara
Proietti

Dr. Sara Proietti, is a post-doc researcher affiliated to the Department of Surgery P. Valdoni at the University La Sapienza of Rome.

Andrea<br>Fuso

Andrea
Fuso

Andrea Fuso, Ph.D., is guest researcher at Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Surgery “P. Valdoni”, and scientific consultant for Lo.Li.Pharma.

Andrea<br>Pensotti

Andrea
Pensotti

Graduated in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at University of Milan in 2009, he finalized his studies with a professional master in management in London.

Rosaria A.<br>Cavallaro

Rosaria A.
Cavallaro

Rosaria A. Cavallaro, PhD., is a Research Associate at Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Surgery “P. Valdoni”, Laboratory of experimental research “Castro Laurenziano”.

Maria Grazia<br>Masiello

Maria Grazia
Masiello

Maria Grazia Masiello, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Surgery “P. Valdoni” at University Sapienza, Rome (Italy).

Simona<br>Dinicola

Simona
Dinicola

Dr. Simona Dinicola, is a post-doc researcher affiliated to the Department of Experimental Medicine at the University La Sapienza of Rome.

Myselis<br>Santiago-Reyes

Myselis
Santiago-Reyes

Myselis Santiago-Reyes earned her Master’s Degree in Genetics and Molecular Biology on December, 2017 at La Sapienza University in Rome, Italy.

Gianmarco <br>Fabrizi

Gianmarco
Fabrizi

Gianmarco Fabrizi, is a student of the Faculty of pharmacy and medicine, at the University La Sapienza of Rome.

Mirko<br>Minini

Mirko
Minini

Ph.D. student Mirko Minini received a Master’s Degree from ‘La Sapienza’ University of Rome in Genetics and Molecular Biology cum laude.

Corresponding Authors

Arturo Bevilacqua

Arturo Bevilacqua

Professore Ordinario di Biologia Applicata

Professore Ordinario di Biologia Applicata (BIO/13), in servizio presso la Facoltà di Medicina e Psicologia dell’Università “Sapienza” di Roma.

Giuseppe Longo

Giuseppe Longo

Directeur de Recherche (DRE) CNRS at Centre Interdisciplinaire Cavaillès

Giuseppe Longo is Directeur de Recherche (DRE) CNRS at Centre Interdisciplinaire Cavaillès, (République des Savoirs, Collège de France et l’Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris).

Corrado Mascia

Corrado Mascia

Associate Professor Mathematics Department G.Castelnuovo

Corrado Mascia is an Associate Professor at the Mathematics Department "G.Castelnuovo" Sapienza, University of Rome. 

Giulia Ricci

Giulia Ricci

Aggregate Professor

Since 2011 Dr. Giulia Ricci has been in charge as Tutor and as part of the faculty of the School of Doctorate in Morphogenesis and Tissue Engineering of the University of Rome “Sapienza”.

Chiara Simeoni

Chiara Simeoni

I have invested my competences for developing innovative teach ng projects in Mathematical Modelling for the Applied Sciences.

Carlos Sonnenschein

Carlos Sonnenschein

Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine

Carlos Sonnenschein is a Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, a Corresponding Member at the Centre Cavaillès, Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS), Paris, France, and a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies-at-Nantes, France

Ana Soto

Ana Soto

Professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Pathobiology

Ana Soto is a professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Pathobiology at Tufts University School of Medicine, in Boston, MA, and Membre Correspondent Etranger at the Centre Cavaillès, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris

Roberto Taramelli

Roberto Taramelli

Professor of Human Genetics

My interests have been, from the beginning of my scientific career, within the field of human genetics.

Saleh H. Alwasel

Stefano Bellucci

Alfredo Colosimo

Giorgio Fanò

Fabrizio Frezza

Rodolfo Guzzi

Abdel Halim Harrath

Maria A. Mariggiò

Maurizio Nordio

Daniel Satgè

Stefano Serafini

Federico Venuta

Roberto Verna

Paolo Zamboni

Our Vision

sbglab about us

The natural world consists of hierarchical levels of complexity that range from subatomic particles and molecules to ecosystems and beyond.

This implies that, in order to explain the features and behavior of a whole system, a theory might be required that would operate at the corresponding hierarchical level, i.e. where self-organization processes take place.

In the past, biological research has focused on questions that could be addressed by a reductionist program of genetics.

The organism (and its development) is currently considered an epiphenomenon of its genes. However, a profound rethinking of the biological paradigm is now underway and it is likely that such a process will lead to a conceptual revolution emerging from the ashes of reductionism.

This revolution implies the search for general principles on which a cogent theory of biology might rely. Because much of the logic of living systems is located at higher levels, it is imperative to focus on them. Indeed, both evolution and physiology work on these levels.

Thus, by no means Systems Biology could be viewed a ‘simple’ ‘gradual’ extension of Molecular Biology.

Research Area

Tumor Reversion

Phase transitions processes

The pathogenesis of several degenerative diseases, including cancer, mostly relies on a cell/tissue differentiation process ‘gone awry’.

A complex system is highly sensitive even to subtle changes in the surrounding milieu (the so-called morphogenetic field) when it enters near some critical points (the bifurcation points leading to metastable states, according to the Waddington’s landscape framework).

At these points, the system can experience a phase-transition, leading to different cell fate specification, upon the influence of different physical and molecular (namely toxicant, like nicotine) factors.

Thereby, it is of priceless value understanding the non-linear dynamics of such processes, to capture their architecture by means a proper mathematical modelling, and how to modify them through a pharmacological approach.

Namely, the natural polyol Inositol (and its phosphate derivatives) is investigated thoroughly, given that inositol showed to modulate epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT vs MET) by targeting the expression of several genes, the activation of the PI3K pathway, as well as the apoptotic process. By modulating EMT vs MET, Inositol can antagonize first steps of carcinogenesis while, by inhibiting apoptosis in normal cells it can easily counteract chemotherapy-induced effects on megakaryocytes. As inositol undergoes a complex metabolic transformation inside the cell, an in depth metabolomic study is currently ongoing to evaluate its metabolic fate.

Modulation of EMT is also at the core of the gene reprogramming that occur during tumor reversion. Tumor reversion induced by physical or molecular cues has been already reported.

We are investigating such processes by means of a model based on the therapeutic potential represented by protein extracts from embryo fish. Embryo fish extracts promote apoptosis and/or foster differentiation/reversion in different cancer types, both in vitro as well as in vivo.

Understanding how both inositol and embryo fish extract modulate phase transitions in cancer cells is therefore of critical relevance for translational medicine.

Read more »

Developmental processes and theory of the organisms

Study of the developmental processes points primarily on early oocyte/embryo differentiating processes occurring during the early life stages.

We are investigating pathways involved in oocyte maturation (namely those involving steroidogenesis) by pointing out how changes in the overall cytoskeleton organization and in the oocyte/microenvironment cross talk can efficiently modulate oocyte maturation and further the implantation process.

To address these issues we are using a 3D-model – involving both the oocyte and an experimental reconstituted endometrium-like scaffold. The modulatory role of natural pharmacological compounds (like inositol, melatonin and α-lipoic acid) is under scrutiny to evaluate is such nutraceutical manipulation can improve the oocyte maturation process.

Furthermore, the potential utility of such compounds in treatment of infertility disorders (like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is currently under scrutiny.

Phenotypic Differentiation

Biophysical constraints

Phenotypic differentiation is underpinned by a complex molecular program, which involves both complex gene-regulatory circuits (behaving according to a non-linear dynamics) and molecular signaling.

However, these factors exert only a permissive role, while a more prominent effect is exercised by internal/external constraints (namely of physical origin), acting as instructive cues.

A paradigmatic example is provided by gravity, which showed to be instrumental in shaping cell differentiation in many experimental models.

We are investigating how microgravity and other physical cues may efficiently influence cell fate transitions in both normal and pathological conditions.

Moreover, as the effects of physical cues are mostly conveyed through the cytoskeleton (CSK) and the specialized cell-to-cell and cell-matrix adhesion structures, we are especially committed in investigating cytoskeleton and nucleoskeleton quantitative structure and dynamics.

To achieve a reliable systems biology representation of such complex processes, tailored, mathematical modelling approaches and high performance computing studies are usually developed.

SBGLab Team

[tlpteam col=”4″ member=”12″ orderby=”menu_order” order=”ASC” layout=”1″]

Corresponding Authors

Arturo Bevilacqua

Arturo Bevilacqua

Professore Ordinario di Biologia Applicata

Professore Ordinario di Biologia Applicata (BIO/13), in servizio presso la Facoltà di Medicina e Psicologia dell’Università “Sapienza” di Roma.

Giuseppe Longo

Giuseppe Longo

Directeur de Recherche (DRE) CNRS at Centre Interdisciplinaire Cavaillès

Giuseppe Longo is Directeur de Recherche (DRE) CNRS at Centre Interdisciplinaire Cavaillès, (République des Savoirs, Collège de France et l’Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris).

Corrado Mascia

Corrado Mascia

Associate Professor Mathematics Department G.Castelnuovo

Corrado Mascia is an Associate Professor at the Mathematics Department "G.Castelnuovo" Sapienza, University of Rome. 

Giulia Ricci

Giulia Ricci

Aggregate Professor

Since 2011 Dr. Giulia Ricci has been in charge as Tutor and as part of the faculty of the School of Doctorate in Morphogenesis and Tissue Engineering of the University of Rome “Sapienza”.

Chiara Simeoni

Chiara Simeoni

I have invested my competences for developing innovative teach ng projects in Mathematical Modelling for the Applied Sciences.

Carlos Sonnenschein

Carlos Sonnenschein

Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine

Carlos Sonnenschein is a Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, a Corresponding Member at the Centre Cavaillès, Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS), Paris, France, and a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies-at-Nantes, France

Ana Soto

Ana Soto

Professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Pathobiology

Ana Soto is a professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Pathobiology at Tufts University School of Medicine, in Boston, MA, and Membre Correspondent Etranger at the Centre Cavaillès, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris

Roberto Taramelli

Roberto Taramelli

Professor of Human Genetics

My interests have been, from the beginning of my scientific career, within the field of human genetics.

Saleh H. Alwasel

Stefano Bellucci

Alfredo Colosimo

Giorgio Fanò

Fabrizio Frezza

Rodolfo Guzzi

Abdel Halim Harrath

Maria A. Mariggiò

Maurizio Nordio

Daniel Satgè

Stefano Serafini

Federico Venuta

Roberto Verna

Paolo Zamboni