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Lecture by Prof. Ivo Sbalzarini

DATE: MARCH 3, 2020, 04:30 PM

The Academia Europaea Wrocław Knowledge Hub had the pleasure of holding a lecture by Prof. Ivo Sbalzarini from TU Dresden, which initiated the programme of WSZECHNICA MIEJSKA, organised by the Wrocław Academic Hub.


If we could program bacteria to produce CO2-neutral biofuels from air and sunlight, it would help fight climate change. If we could program cancer cells to kill themselves, it would extend the healthy lifespan of people. If we could program plants to only require water when it is available, it would help feed the world’s growing population. Many challenges of the future would lose their horror if we had a better understanding of the inner workings of living systems. This requires not only that we understand the molecules and materials of which living systems are composed, but that we understand how they internally function, how they process information, and how all of this is encoded and stored in the genes. Understanding these biological “algorithms” is the goal of the scientific discipline of Systems Biology, which unites computer science and biology. Prof. Sbalzarini presented the key difficulties in this endeavour and discussed the approach scientists take in addressing them in their research. A concrete biological example from embryo development served to illustrate the interplay of the disciplines and highlighted several advancements in computer science that were and are still required to reach our goal.

PROF. IVO SBALZARINI is the Chair of Scientific Computing for Systems Biology on the faculty of computer science of TU Dresden, a professor of mathematics at TU Dresden, and director of the Center for Systems Biology Dresden. He is also a permanent Senior Research Group Leader with the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden. He graduated in Mechanical Engineering from ETH Zurich in 2002 (Willi Studer Award). He completed his doctorate in computer science in 2006 at ETH Zurich (Chorafas Award, Weizmann Institute of Science), where he worked at an intersection of biology and computer science. In 2006, he was granted the post of Assistant Professor for Computational Science in the Department of Computer Science of ETH Zurich. In 2012, Ivo and his group moved to Dresden, where he became one of the founding members of the new Max Planck Center for Systems Biology and the TU-Dresden Chair of Scientific Computing for Systems Biology. He also serves as a research avenue leader in the Federal Cluster of Excellence “Physics of Life”, Dean of the International Max Planck Research School in Cell, Developmental, and Systems Biology, and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science. He is a member of the board of directors of the CASUS Institute in Görlitz.