SSBSS 2015

International Synthetic and Systems Biology Summer School

Biology meets Engineering and Computer Science

5 - 9 July 2015, Taormina - Sicily, Italy

Please mark your calendar for the next Summer School:
SSBSS 2016 will be held from 9 to 13 July 2016, Volterra (Pisa), Tuscany, Italy. Save the date!


Discount Abstract Deadline: April 30, 2015
Late Abstract Deadline: May 30, 2015
Discount Registration Deadline: April 30, 2015

Recent advances in DNA synthesis have increased our ability to build biological systems. Synthetic Biology aims at streamlining the design and synthesis of robust and predictable biological systems using engineering design principles. Designing biological systems requires a deep understanding of how genes and proteins are organized and interact in living cells: Systems Biology aims at elucidating the cellular organization at gene, protein and network level using computational and biochemical methods.

The Synthetic and Systems Biology Summer School (SSBSS) is a full-immersion course on cutting-edge advances in systems and synthetic biology with lectures delivered by world-renowned experts. The school provides a stimulating environment for students, early career researches, academics and industry leaders. Participants will also have the chance to present their results, and to interact with their peers, in a friendly and constructive environment.


  • Genetic Engineering
  • Metabolic Engineering
  • Genome Design
  • Reading and Writing Genomes
  • Pathway Design
  • Synthetic Circuits and Cells
  • Biological CAD
  • Artificial Tissues and Organs
  • Genomically Recoded Organisms
  • Biological Design Automation
  • Genome Engineering
  • Cellular Systems Biology
  • Experimental Synthetic Biology
  • Computational Synthetic Biology
  • Stochastic Gene Regulation
  • Gene Signaling
  • Quantitative Molecular Biology
  • High-throughput Techniques
  • Biological Engineering
  • Industrial Synthetic and Systems Biology


  • July 10, 2015:

    Thank you for attending SSBSS 2015! Please mark your calendar(s) for the next summer school:
    SSBSS 2016 will be held in July 2016, 9-13 July 2016, Volterra (Pisa), Tuscany, Italy. Save the date!

  • July 9, 2015:

    SSBSS 2015 Best Talk Awards

    • "Design of rotationally symmetric DNA nanotubes", Jon Berengut, University of New South Wales, Australia
    • "Massive Factorial Design of Coding Sequences Reveals the Complex Phenotypic Consequences of Translation Determinants", Guillaume Cambray, Joao Guimaraes and Adam Arkin
    • "Cooperative Molecular Biosensor", Robert Oppenheimer, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Australia

  • June 6, 2015: SSBSS 2015 Program - Final Version.
  • June 1, 2015: We received 350+ submissions and 180+ posters and oral presentations.
  • March 15, 2015: it is still possible to submit abstract, Discount Abstract Deadline: April 30, 2015.
  • February 15, 2015: Application Deadline: March 31, 2015.
  • February 15, 2015: Oral/Poster Submission Deadline: March 31, 2015.
  • February 15, 2015: For the applications received from February 16 to March 31 the organizing committee will send the corresponding notification by April 10. Applicants that need a early notification (e.g., for travel grant applications) must contact the SSBSS 2015 Organizing Committee via email:
  • February 15, 2015: To the applicants that submitted the application form by February 15th, the organizing committee will send the notification by February 28th.
  • February 15, 2015: Due to many requests, we are extending the application deadline to March 31, 2015. For this reason, we will have up to ~150 slots for selected and motivated students. We thank all the applicants for their interest in the school, and we are looking forward to see you in Taormina in July!
  • February 15, 2015: We thank you very much all the applicants and presenters for this great participation to the SSBSS 2015!
  • January 15, 2015: New Speaker! Ron Weiss, MIT, USA
  • June 19, 2014: The Summer School will begin at 9:00am of Sunday July 5, 2015 and will conclude in the evening on July 9, 2015.
  • June 19, 2014: Link to the First edition of the Synthetic and Systems Biology Summer School - 2014, June 15-19, 2014.
    We received 225 submissions and more than 150 posters and oral presentations.

Taormina and Etna District - Mount Etna


  • Adam Arkin, University of California Berkeley, USA
  • Lecture 1: "Genome-scale Discovery of the Determinants of Optimal Biological Function"
    Lecture 2: "On the Challenges in Engineering Activity in Complex Contexts from 100,000 Liter Bioreactors to Human Guts"

  • Jef Boeke, New York University, USA
  • Lecture 1: "Assembling DNA: from Nucleotide to Chromosome"
    Lecture 2: "Sc2.0, the Synthetic Yeast Genome Project"

  • Angela DePace, Harvard University, USA
  • Lecture 1: "Developmental Gene Regulatory Networks"
    Lecture 2: "Measuring, Modeling and Manipulating Regulatory DNA"

  • Forbes Dewey, MIT, USA
  • Lecture 1: "Quantitative Modeling of Molecular Pathways I: Fundamentals"
    Lecture 2: "Quantitative Modeling of Molecular Pathways II: Examples from Systems and Synthetic Biology"

  • Karmella Haynes, Arizona State University, USA
  • Lecture 1: "Designing CRISPR for the Engineering of DNA in Mammalian Cells"
    Lecture 2: "Mapping and Engineering of Chromatin in Mammalian Cells"

  • Richard Kitney, Imperial College London, UK
  • Lecture 1: "An Engineering Approach to Synthetic Biology Design 1"
    Lecture 2: "An Engineering Approach to Synthetic Biology Design 2"

  • Philip Maini, Oxford University, UK
  • Lecture 1: "Mathematical Modelling of Biological Pattern Formation"
    Lecture 2: "Modelling Invasions"

  • Giancarlo Mauri, University of Milano - Bicocca, Italy
  • Lecture 1: "Computational methods in Systems Biology: from Modelling to GPU Acceleration"
    Lecture 2: "Efficient Inference of Cancer Progression Models from Cross-sectional Data"

  • Leslie Mitchell, New York University Langone Medical Center, USA
  • Lecture 1: "In silico DNA assembly challenge"

  • Steve Oliver, Cambridge University, UK
  • Lecture 1: "Improving the yeast metabolic model as a tool in strain design"
    Lecture 2: "Harnessing synthetic biology and the Robot Scientist in drug discovery"

  • Velia Siciliano, MIT, USA
  • Lecture 1: "Synthetic Biology in Mammalian Systems for Biomedical Applications"

  • Ron Weiss, MIT, USA
  • Lecture 1: "Synthetic Biology: From Parts to Complex Circuits"
    Lecture 2: "Mammalian Synthetic Biology: Scientific and Therapeutic Perspectives"

  • Nicola Zamboni, ETH, Switzerland
  • Lecture 1: "Reconstruction of metabolic regulation by large-scale metabolomics"
    Lecture 2: "Bottom up modeling of dynamic metabolic systems"

  • Luca Zammataro, IIT, Italy
  • Lecture 1: "Identification of Low Frequency Driver Mutations in Cancer via Consensus Alignment"

Industrial Panel

  • Jon D. Chesnut, Life Sciences Solutions Group -Thermo Fisher Scientific, USA
  • Lecture: "CRISPR-based Genome Editing Tools: New Applications and Streamlined Workflows"

  • Zach Serber, Zymergen, Inc.,USA
  • Lecture 1: "Lessons learned from optimizing microbes for large scale industrial fermentation. What has worked"
    Lecture 2: "Applying robotics and manufacturing principles to strain engineering"
    Lecture 3: "An interactive workshop: starting your own synthetic biology company"

School Directors

Scientific Committee

  • Giuseppe Nicosia, University of Catania, Italy
  • Antonella Agodi, University of Catania, Italy
  • Francesco Basile, University of Catania, Italy
  • Jole Costanza, University of Catania, Italy
  • Barbara Di Camillo, University of Padova, Italy
  • Markus Herrgard, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark
  • Heiko Muller, Italian Institute of Technology, Italy
  • Giuseppe Narzisi, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA
  • Wieslaw Nowak, Nicholas Copernicus University, Poland
  • Francesco Ricci, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Italy
  • Gianna Maria Toffolo, University of Padova, Italy
  • Renato Umeton, MIT, USA
  • Luca Zammataro, Italian Institute of Technology, Italy


  • Application: March 31, 2015
  • Notification Acceptance: April 10, 2015
  • Oral/Poster Submission: March 31, 2015
  • Notification of Decision for Oral/Poster Presentation: May 15, 2015
  • Early Registration: April 30, 2015
  • Late Registration: After April 30, 2015
  • Discount Abstract Deadline: April 30, 2015
  • Late Abstract Deadline: May 30, 2015
  • Discount Registration Deadline: April 30, 2015

Taormina - Schisò Beach

Application Form

The school will be open up to 100 150 qualified, motivated and selected students. Undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs, research fellows, academics and industrial professionals are encouraged to apply. School fees will be 550 EUR for undergraduate and graduate students, 650 EUR for post-docs and research fellows and 750 EUR for all other participants (the late registration fees are the following: 600 EUR for undergraduate and graduate students, 700 EUR for post-docs and research fellows and 800 EUR for all other participants ). Fees will cover lectures, course materials, coffee breaks, social tours and Wi-Fi Internet Connection.

The School will involve a total of 32 hours of lectures, the final achievement will be equivalent to 8 ECTS points (ECTS grading scale).

Applications should be received before March 31, 2015 before April 30, 2015 . Applicants will receive notification of acceptance by April 30, 2015 (or May 1st, 2015).

Cancellation policy: cancellations received no later than May 31, 2015 will receive a full refund less 50 Euro in processing charges. After May 31, no refunds will be given.

Short Talk and Poster Submission

Students may submit a research abstract for presentation using the Application Form. School directors will review the abstracts and will recommend for poster or short-oral presentation. Abstract should be submitted by March 31, 2015 by April 30, 2015 . The abstracts will be published on the electronic hands-out material of the summer school.

Taormina - Isola Bella


Platinum Sponsors:

Gold Sponsors:

Silver Sponsors:

  • Leonardo Design Systems Inc.

Bronze Sponsors:

  • TBA

SSBSS welcomes Sponsors, for more information send an email to:

Venue and Accommodation


SSBSS will be hosted in Taormina (Google Map) at the venue "Hotel Villa Diodoro" that offers 1 main conference rooms, 5 meeting rooms and an open terrace for coffee breaks. The plenary room can to accommodate more than 250 people. All the rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi connection.
The Secretarial and conference facilities: Direct-dial telephone, Fax-PC, WI-FI/ADSL lines, Production room, Photocopier, Conference speaker system, Portable microphones, Light dimming, Overhead projector, Flip chart, Slide projector, Movie projector, Laser pointer, Podium, Stage-Catwalk, Post congress, Transfer to/from Catania International Airport - CTA.
Plenary talks and introductions to the poster sessions will be held in one of the main conference rooms while the actual poster sessions will be held in the other main room.

Hotel Villa Diodoro Congress Center
Via Bagnoli Croci 75
98039 Taormina, Messina, Italy
T: +39 0942 2 33 12
F: +39 0942 2 33 91

Travel to Taormina

Catania Fontanarossa "Vincenzo Bellini" International (CTA) is the nearest and most convenient airport at some 66km (41mi) from Taormina. It features several flights from the major Italian cities such as Milan Malpensa, Rome, Naples, Venice, etc and many international direct flights from important European cities such as Bruxelles, Munich, Barcelona, Athens, Malta and many more. Lots of charter flights from all over the world land to Catania too.
From Catania International Airport (CTA) you can reach Taormina in one-hour drive by very convenient direct highway A18 (direction Messina, exit TAORMINA).
Direct bus to Taormina centre are available at 08.30 - 11.30 - 13.30 - 16.30 - 18.30 - 20.30 every day. By Taxi about 1 hour.

Taormina's railway station is considered one of Italy's most beautiful for its elegant charming Sicilian Liberty style decor; every train arriving from Northern Italy to Sicily stops here.
One has a large choice of trains, from de-luxe Eurostar down to simple but very efficient "Espresso train" normally departing from Milan, Turin and Rome through Naples and the Amalfi & Capri area.


UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sicily

Taormina - Ancient Greek Theatre


TaoSciences Research Center
Taormina, Sicily

For more information, send an email to: