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Engineering Biology in Cambridge



Pietro obtained a Laurea in Physics, in Milan (1999) before joining the Cavendish Lab for his PhD (2003). He initially worked on interface science, and then became interested in lipid membranes in his post-doc, at the Nanoscience Center, before returning to the Cavendish with an Oppenheimer Research Fellowship (2004-2007).  He began working with biological cells and optical trapping. In 2006 he was appointed University Lecturer in Physics, and also joined the Fellowship at Corpus Christi College.  Research-wise, a group has grown based on imaging and microfluidic devices, addressing a range of questions in biological and soft matter physics. In 2013 he was promoted to Reader, in 2016 Professor. 


Pietro's current research interests revolve around three main areas of funding: regulation of gene expression in bacteria; understanding synchronisation of active cilia in biological tissues; controlling the self assembly of lipid based systems, aiming for new functionality. We also have a wider range of related research projects, carried out in collaboration with leading partners, mostly from Life Sciences. These include host/pathogen interactions and imaging (both malaria and bacteria); single cell physiology of unicellular organisms (at the moment, algae); cell motility.  We have quite broad interest and expertise in soft matter and biological physics questions.


Key publications: 

Optimal hydrodynamic synchronization of colloidal rotors, Jurij Kotar, Luke Debono, Nicolas Bruot, Stuart Box, David Phillips, Stephen Simpson, Simon Hanna and Pietro Cicuta, Physical Review Letters 111,  228103 (2013)

Short-time loci displacement unveils E. coli chromosome organization,  Avelino Javer*, Zhicheng Long*, Eileen Nugent, Marco Grisi, Kamin Siriwatwetchakul, Kevin D. Dorfman, Pietro Cicuta, and Marco Cosentino Lagomarsino,  Nature Communications 4, 3003 (2013)

Driving potential and noise level determine the synchronization state of hydrodynamically coupled oscillators, Nicolas Bruot, Jurij Kotar, Filippo de Lillo, Marco Cosentino Lagomarsino and Pietro Cicuta, Physical Review Letters, 109, 164103 (2012)

Hydrodynamic synchronization of colloidal oscillators, Jurij Kotar, Marco Leoni, Bruno Bassetti, Marco Cosentino Lagomarsino and Pietro Cicuta, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 107, 7669-7673 (2010)

Critical Fluctuations in Plasma Membrane Vesicles, Sarah Veatch, Pietro Cicuta, Prabuddha Sengupta, Aurelia Honerkamp-Smith, David Holowka and Barbara Baird, ACS Chemical Biology, 3, 287 (2008)

Complete list of publications

Head of Biological and Soft Systems
Corpus Christi, Fellow
Photo of Dr. Pietro Cicuta

Contact Details

Cavendish Laboratory
JJ Thomson Avenue
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