Thermodynamic Limits of Sperm Swimming Precision – PRX Life

In PRX Life Thermodynamics Reveals Coordinated Motors in Sperm Tails
Thermodynamic Limits of Sperm Swimming Precision, C. Maggi, F. Saglimbeni, V. Carmona Sosa, R. Di Leonardo, B. Nath, and A. Puglisi in PRX Life

Sperm swimming is crucial to fertilize the egg, in nature and in assisted reproductive technologies. Modeling the sperm dynamics involves elasticity, hydrodynamics, internal active forces, and out-of-equilibrium noise.

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Brain sciences and the R words

ISC researcher Roberto Coccurello co-authored  an interesting article on Brain Communications Passive immunotherapy for N-truncated tau ameliorates the cognitive deficits in two mouse Alzheimer’s disease models . The work was recently selected for the collection Brain sciences and the R words for its rigor, reproducibility and quality of the statistical analysis.


Clinical and neuropathological studies have shown that tau pathology better correlates with the severity of dementia than amyloid plaque burden, making tau an attractive target for the cure of Alzheimer’s disease.… Read the rest

A Random Walk in Physics – Book

A Random Walk in Physics: Beyond Black Holes and Time-Travels is a book by
Massimo Cencini, Andrea Puglisi, Davide Vergni and Angelo Vulpiani.

Read a review in italian at GalileoRead the rest

Tau Cleavage Contributes to Cognitive Dysfunction in Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model

ISC researchers coauthored an interesting work on International Journal of Molecular Science,

Tau Cleavage Contributes to Cognitive Dysfunction in Strepto-Zotocin-Induced Sporadic Alzheimer’s Disease (sAD) Mouse Model

V. Latina et al. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 22, 12158 (2021)

Tau cleavage plays a crucial role in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), a widespread neurodegenerative disease whose incidence is expected to increase in the next years.… Read the rest

Frontiers in Cell Biology: Rescue of Alpha-Synuclein Deficit by Virus-Driven Expression or by Running Restores the Defective Neurogenesis

ISC researcher R. Coccurello coauthored an interesting article now published in Frontiers in Cell and developmental biology


Transcriptome Analysis in a Mouse Model of Premature Aging of Dentate Gyrus: Rescue of Alpha-Synuclein Deficit by Virus-Driven Expression or by Running Restores the Defective Neurogenesis

L. Micheli, T. Creanza, M. Ceccarelli, G. D’Andrea, G. Giacovazzo, N. Ancona, R. Coccurello, R. Scardiglli, F.… Read the rest

Science: Mapping out a future for ungulate migrations

ISC researcher Stefano Focardi coauthored an interesting work in Science,”Mapping out a future for ungulate migrations” Science 372, 567 (2021).

The article shows how limited mapping of mammalians migrations hampers conservation  and envisions a digital archive translating migration data into actionable migration maps that are standardized, in a central database, and publicly available.


Migration of ungulates (hooved mammals) is a fundamental ecological process that promotes abundant herds, whose effects cascade up and down terrestrial food webs.… Read the rest

Face masks and nanotechnology

ISC researcher V. Palmieri coauthored an article  on NanoToday explaining the role of nanotechnologies in improving the performance of facial masks and  warning on possible future consequences caused by a poorly regulated use of nanotechnology in textiles.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. While researchers are working on vaccine development and elucidating the mechanism of action and evolution of the harmful SARS-CoV-2, the current most important public health measure, second only to social distancing, is the obligatory wearing of facial protection.… Read the rest

Can graphene take part in the fight against COVID-19? Nano Today (2020)

ISC researcher, Valentina Palmieri, and her collaborator M. Papi discuss the promising applications of functionalized graphene in the fight against COVID 19. Their research has been published in Nano Today, “Can graphene take part in the fight against COVID-19?

Nano Today

M. Papi and V. Palmieri, Nano Today, Vol. 33,  100883 (2020)


The pneumonia outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) represents a global issue.

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Analytical Model for Particle Capture in Nanopores, ACS Nano (2020)

Our researcher, Fabio Cecconi, has developed an analytical model elucidating the competition among electrophoresis, electroosmosis, and dielectrophoresis. The work is published on ACS Nano, M. Chinappi, Misa Yamaji, Ryuji Kawano, and Fabio Cecconi, “Analytical Model for Particle Capture in Nanopores Elucidates Competition among Electrophoresis, Electroosmosis, and Dielectrophoresis” ACS Nano, 14, 15816 (2020).



The interaction between nanoparticles dispersed in a fluid and nanopores is governed by the interplay of hydrodynamical, electrical, and chemical effects.… Read the rest

Alignment of Nonspherical Active Particles in Chaotic Flows – Physical Review Letters

Massimo Cencini has published Alignment of Nonspherical Active Particles in Chaotic Flows in Physical Review Letters.

Active particles, such as motile microorganisms or artificial microswimmers, swim in a surrounding flow, either externally imposed or self-generated. Besides transporting the active particles, the flow velocity change their swimming direction by exerting a shape-dependent torque through the velocity gradients. The complex interplay of flow advection, particle orientation and self-propulsion is fundamental to understand key processes at the crossroad between aquatic ecology, active matter modeling, and nano/micro- technology with application to drug delivery.… Read the rest

Andrea Cavagna wins ERC Advanced Grant

Congratulations to Andrea Cavagna for winning an ERC Advanced Grant (panel PE2) with the project:
Renormalization group approach to the collective behaviour of strongly correlated biological systems (RG.BIO)

Biological systems displaying collective behaviour are characterized by strong spatio-temporal correlations, which partly transcend the multiform diversity of their microscopic details, much as it happens in statistical physics systems close to a critical point.… Read the rest

NAR: Energetic funnel facilitates facilitated diffusion

Massimo Cencini has published Energetic funnel facilitates facilitated diffusion in Nucleic Acid Research.

Gene transcription is regulated by proteins – Transcription Factors (TFs) – that by binding to short target sequences are able to promote or impede the binding of RNA-Polymerase (RNAP) and, consequently, activate or repress tran-
scription. Fast and accurate control of gene expression is crucial for many biological functions, and relies on the ability of TFs to rapidly find their transcription factor binding site (TFBS) among a multitude of competing DNA sequences,
and to establish with it a stable complex.… Read the rest

Dynamic scaling in natural swarms – Nature Physics

Andrea Cavagna, Daniele Conti, Chiara Creato, Lorenzo Del Castello, Irene Giardina, Tomas S. Grigera, Stefania Melillo, Leonardo Parisi & Massimiliano Viale have published an article on the collective behaviour in biological systems which presents theoretical challenges beyond the borders of classical statistical physics.… Read the rest

Rivelazione di nanoanticorpi in tracce con tecniche di risonanza plasmonica di superficie

Bruno Tiribilli 1, Giancarlo Margheri 1, Federica Pierucci 2 , Ambra Vestri 2, Elisabetta Meacci 2
1 Istituto dei Sistemi Complessi, del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, via Madonna del Piano 10, 50019, Sesto Fiorentino (FI).
2 Dipartimento di Scienze Biochimiche Sperimentali e Cliniche “Mario Serio”, Università di Firenze, Viale G B Morgagni  50, 50134 Firenze.

Finalità del progetto

Scopo finale del progetto è l’applicazione della tecnica Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) alla rivelazione di  un particolare nanoanticorpo, specifico per la  sfingosina-1-fosfato (S1P), un importante agente in diverse vie metaboliche, ad esempio nel citoplasma cellulare, dove è stata dimostrata la sua funzione di regolazione dei flussi di ioni Ca2+.… Read the rest

MOVEMENT ECOLOGY OF SEABIRDS: a mechanistic explanation of their incredible navigation ability

LÉVY 2.0

Seabirds can fly for many days and nights across featureless oceans to their preferred feeding locations and then fly back to their nests without getting lost. How they do this has long been a mystery. Now through a careful analysis of their flight patterns, researchers have shown that seabirds are following their noses and navigate using an “odour map” – a mental patchwork picture of local odours.… Read the rest

The Bulgarian red deer project

Two researches of the ISC (Stefano Focardi and Sonia Lombardi), together with Federico Morimando (Studio Proeco) have visited dr. Atidzhe Ahmed and Prof. Peter Genov, colleagues at the Institute of biodiversity and ecosystems research of the Bulgarian academy of sciences (IBER-BAS). The aim of the trip was to design a new project on the movement ecology of the red deer (Cervus elaphus) in Bulgaria.… Read the rest

Biomimetic antimicrobial cloak by graphene-oxide agar hydrogel

Massimiliano Papi and others published a scientific report on an antibacterial cloak produced by laser printing graphene oxide hydrogels mimicking the Cancer Pagurus carapace.… Read the rest

Dynamics of Virus-Host interaction

In the case of fast mutating viruses (e.g., Influenza virus), the virus-host interaction is driven by cross-immunity: after being infected by a strain, the host acquires immunity to a set of other strains antigenically similar to the infecting one (i.e., triggering the same host immune response). The evolutionary dynamics of viruses is therefore ruled by their relative antigenic distance. Can we understand the non trivial relation between antigenic and genetic distance?… Read the rest

Protein molecules

Biopolymers such as nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and proteins have been charged by natural evolution with the task of storing, transmitting and transforming genetic information of living matter.
In particular proteins are the macromolecules which perform most of the biochemical and biomechanical activities of organisms. Proteins, for instance, provide the building blocks of cells and tissues, they are involved in control and regulation of cellular cycles, in enzymatic catalysis, proteins are at the basis of muscle contractions and constitute part of the immunitary defence, etc… The list of biological functions which proteins are involved in is extremely long and rapidly increasing with the research advances.
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Topological vs. Metric distance

Basically all existing models of collective animal behaviour (bird flocks, fish schools, etc) assume that the interaction between different individuals depends on the metric distance, just as in physics. This implies, for example, that two birds 5 meters apart interact more strongly than two birds 10 meters apart.

Models developed by biologists are based on a “behavioural zones” scheme, where each zone is associated to one of the three basic ingredients of all models: short range repulsion, alignment, long range attraction.… Read the rest

Protein Folding

Protein Folding is a specific chemical and physical transition by which a linear sequence of aminoacids finds its functional (native) three dimensional structure. The theoretical study of protein folding represents perhaps one of the most challenging research with a marked interdisciplinary character, where biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science can fruitfully interact each other.

Our activity in this field concerns the prediction of folding mechanisms by the knowledge of tertiary structure only.

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Home Page of Andrea Cavagna


Post-Doc, Theoretical Physics, Physics Dept, Manchester University, UK, 2001 (with Alan Bray and Mike Moore)

Post-Doc, Condensed Matter, Theoretical Physics Dept, Oxford University, UK, 1999 (with David Sherrington)

Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics, University of Rome Sapienza, Italy, 1998 (Spin-Glasses – advisor Giorgio Parisi)

M.S. and B.A. in Theoretical Physics, University of Milan and SISSA – Trieste, Italy, 1995 (Conformal Field Theory – advisor Giuseppe Mussardo)

I was trained as a theoretical physicist and I have studied for some years the statistical mechanics of disordered systems, with a particular interest in spin-glasses, structural glasses and supercooled liquids. … Read the rest