October 20, 2017

Stefano Piotto


Stefano Piotto is Associate Professor at the University of Salerno, Department of Pharmacy where he teaches General Chemistry (course of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technologies) and Biomaterials (course of Pharmacy). He receives the Master in Chemistry (110/110 cum laude) at the University of Rome in 1994. From 1995 to 1997, he is responsible for the Chemical Analysis Laboratory for the Italian Army, and he is a software developer at IBM (Rome). He received the Ph.D. in Material Sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich in 2000.

From 2000 to 2003, he is a postdoc in Solid State Chemistry in the group of prof. R. Nesper (ETH Zurich). In the same period, he is also responsible for the project CCN@ETHZ in the framework of an e-learning project of Swiss Universities. In 2004, he obtained a grant as Advanced Researcher from the Swiss Science National Foundation to investigate lipid membranes as potential drug delivery systems, and he moves to the University of Salerno (Italy). Since 2006 is Assistant Professor at the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Salerno where he leads the SoftMatterLab. Since 2010 is recurrent Visiting Professor at the University of Balearic Islands, Spain. In 2007 he was the co-founder of e-Solving Srl, a company active in e-learning and advanced visualization techniques in teaching science. In 2016 he was co-founder and CEO of SmartVase Srl, a startup active in the field of biomaterials. Among several awards, in 2016 SmartVase receives the award “Premio dei Premi” as Best Innovative Company in Italy from the Italian President of Republic.

In 2019 he is co-founder and CEO of SoftMining Srl, a startup that combines Artificial Intelligence and Computational Drug Design.

SP regularly organizes the international conferences: Bionam, on bionanomaterials. He is the editor of two book series by Springer and indexed in Scopus: Lecture Notes in Bioengineering and Communications in Computer and Information Science. SP is the author of scientific programs such as Curvis, Yada, and ProtComp. He is the author of more than 60 scientific papers, two books, and coauthor of a scientific movie (“Origin of life: what science has to say” Serpent of Gold, Best Scientific Film, 2001).

His main research interests are the development of computational models of biomaterials and the study of the interactions between inorganic materials and biological systems (proteins and lipid membranes).

Main scientific achievements:

Advanced materials: SP designed and realized new materials for industrial applications. Among others, the Smartvase (a biodegradable pot) developed with Roberto Pantani, and a novel superhydrophobic coating (with Simona Concilio).

Antibiotics: together with Simona Concilio and Lucia Sessa, he designed and synthesized a new class of low molecular weight antimicrobials. He also develops a new QSAR model for the design of novel antimicrobial peptides.

Cancer therapy: he developed further the seminal work of Vigh, Maresca, and Escribà, on the role of membrane physical state in controlling heat shock response and cancer progression. He demonstrated how membrane lipid composition controls receptor activity, and how such composition can be exploited to develop new anticancer agents.

Drug design: He proposed and develop new software for drug design: Yada, Comody, and the last one, the Flocking approach. By means of flocking, the accuracy and the precision of drug design are greatly improved. The applications of this software led to the identification of new therapeutic targets, and together with Luigi Di Biasi, to the creation of LandMeIn, a biology-inspired video game.

Alignment-free method: SP proposed a new algorithm for sequences analysis that outperforms existing methods. The application of the algorithm permitted to demonstrate the coevolution of the transmembrane regions in bacteria and archaea, and the creation of a new search engine working without keywords or tags.