Session I - Luis Serrano


CRG Director
ICREA Professor
EMBO member
Luis Serrano did his PhD at the CBM (Madrid, Spain) on Cell Biology. Then he spent 4 years in the laboratory of Prof. A.R. Fehrs (MRC, UK) working in protein folding. In 1993, he became Group Leader at the EMBL (Heidelberg, Germany) working in Protein Folding and desi gn. Ten years later, he was appointed head of the Structural & Computational Biology programme at the EMBL and he started to work on Systems Biology. By the end of 2006 he moved back to Spain to lead a programme working on Systems Biology, where he was appointed vice-director before finally becoming the CRG director on July 2011. His group is currently focused on Synthetic Biology, engineering and designing of biological systems. He is EMBO and RACEFyN member and received the Marie Curie Excellence Award. He has also been awarded with the prestigious ERC Advanced Grant and participates as Principal Investigators in many research projects financed both by the European Commission (through the 6th and 7th Framework Programmes) and the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. He is Professor of ICREA and has directed 12 PhD thesis. He has published more than 240 papers in international journals. He has always been very mindful about the importance of the successful transfer of scientific discoveries to the society. He was involved in the creation of one of the first Spanish Biotech. Companies (Diverdrugs) in 1999. He is also co-founder of
Cellzome, EnVivo and TRISKEL. Some of his work has been commented in Spanish
newspapers (El Pais, LaVanguardia, El Mundo...), in the radio and other journals like Newsweek.

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Abstract session I (keynote lecture on May 20, 16:45 h)

Systems biology analysis and Synthetic biology engineering of a model organism

Engineering bacteria to deliver therapeutic agents or to present antigens for vaccination is an emerging area of research with great clinical potential. The most challenging issue in this field is the selection of the right bacteria to engineer, commonly known as “chassis”. The best chassis depends on the application but there is a common drawback in bacteria used nowadays: their complexity and the lack of quantitative information for many reactions which limits genome engineering to classical trial and error approaches.  We want to engineer the genome-reduced bacterium M. pneumoniae using a whole-cell model that will drive the rational to create a chassis for human and animal therapy. Its small size (816 Kbases), the lack of cell wall, and the vast amount of comprehensive quantitative –omics datasets makes this bacterium one of the best candidates for chassis design. By combining bioinformatics, -omics, and biochemistry approaches with genome engineering tools, systems biology analyses, and computational whole-cell models, we want i) to develop a whole cell-model based on organism-specific experimental data that will be validated experimentally and that can predict the impact of genome modifications; ii) implement genome engineering tools to delete non-essential pathogenic and virulent elements predicted by the whole-cell model to engineer a therapeutical chassis; iii) using the whole-cell model design and engineer genes and circuits to improve growth rate in a defined medium.  I will summarize here what we have learned in our systems biology analysis of this small bacterium, as well as our progress in the whole-cell model and in its engineering.