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Professore Associato





Francesco Filippini, PhD, is Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics (SSD BIO/11) at the Department of Biology, University of Padova.
FF is active in the fields of computational and synthetic biology and biotechnology, molecular biology, neurobiology, regenerative medicine, molecular evolution, reverse vaccinology. Recent and current research projects were and are performed in local, national and international (Stanford, Edmonton, Paris, Bordeaux....) collaboration by integrating in silico predictions and wet lab experiments in interdisciplinary, biotech projects.
FF collaborated as a peer reviewer with impactful and field leading journals such as Springer-Nature-BMC and Trends series journals, FEBS Letters, Gene, Biol. Cell, Exp Cell Res, Plant J, Chemosphere, In Silico Biol), and as an Editor with international journals such as Discovery Biology and Medicine and Stem Cell Discovery. FF is also member of some international boards of evaluators for research project funding (e.g. to the French INSERM-CNRS, the Netherlands Genomic Initiative etc.).
FF has been project/unit coordinator in both international (NoE-EU), national (PRIN) and local (Padua University) consortia.
Along his career, FF was getting published in different disciplines and on impactful journals, such as Nature, TiBS, TiBTech, PNAS, JBC, Proteomics, Hum Mutat, Pl Physiol, J Exp Bot, Nanomedicine, Carbon, Sci Rep etc. A list of selected publications can be found on this website.
FF graduated (MSc level) in Biological Sciences with full honors at the University of Naples; then, he won a PhD fellowship (4-years programme) in Cellular and Molecular Genetics. In 1992 he moved to the CRIBI Biotechnology center in Padua where he spent last year of PhD and two further years as a postdoc, prior to winning (1995) a position for Assistant Professor in Molecular Biology, Department of Biology and Faculty of Sciences, University of Padova.
FF is Associate Professor since 2008 (tenured since 2005).



Research Area

My lab is named since year 2000 "Molecular biology and bioinformatics" (MOLBINFO) because of a tight integration among dry and wet analyses we perform. Indeed, we are now part of an extended Research Unit in our Department named "Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology".
Bioinformatics is sometimes used to develop novel strategies or algorithms; however, in most instances we take advantage of existing tools to perform sequence and structural dissection of either individual genes/proteins or genomic/proteomic complements for next prediction-driven wet lab analyses, by ourselves and/or by collaborating teams.

Active research topics are the following:

- Signalling in neuronal differentiation and neural regenerative medicine. We are studying nanotopographical signals and biochemical cues driving stem cell differentiation to neuronal cell lineage, eliciting neurite outgrowth in neuronal precursors and providing axon guidance. To this aim, we develop and characterize (i) nanocomposite scaffolds combining bio-compatible matrix and conductive, carbon-based nanofillers, (ii) biomimetic synthetic peptides (reproducing known or putative signalling motifs) as well as (iii) recombinant protein domains designed as synthetc genes and expressed for gain of function experiments or for production and purification;

- Key genes in neuronal differentiation and brain function and disease. We are expert in the study of subcellular trafficking in neurons and especially in pathways mediated by neuronal Longins, a protein family that was first identified and characterized by our lab. In particular, human longin VAMP7 and its splice variants play a crucial role in neuritogenesis and neuronal differentiation and alternative splicing balance is likely involved in proper neural development. We also study the transcriptional and splicing regulator MeCP2, which when mutated is causative for the most common autism syndrome (RTT). Last but not least, we are investigating on L1CAM and Lingo family genes, which are important regulators of neural differentiation and of interest for regenerative medicine;

- Molecular evolution of influenza viruses and novel vaccine strategies. Our team has developed the first software environment for Reverse Vaccinology; more recently, we performed an innovative analysis of the molecular evolution of avian flu hemagglutinin surface antigens leading to discovery of electrostatic fingerprints underlying clades evolution and providing a molecular rationale for seasonal vaccine escape. Based on such evidence and on our expertise with nanoparticles we are starting now a project for designing artificial, influenza panvaccines;

- Synthetic biology for biocatalysis and bioremediation. Taking advantage from expertise with dry dissection and predictive design, we are providing our multi-lab co PIs and local collaborators with structural bioinformatics, protein engineering and computational design workpackages in the study and development of enzymes of industrial interest and (starting novel topic) of genes/proteins of interest for bioremediation purposes.

Thesis proposals

Proposals for MSc degree stage and thesis are presented in short form in the specific page at the website for our Master Programme in Industrial Biotechnologies; candidate students are invited to contact me vie email for more details on those proposals they are interested in.

Proposals for BSc degree stage and thesis are presented every year in a table for students from the Bachelor Programme in Biotechnology.

Even though my teaching activity is performed in the context of biotechnological Programmes (both at Bachelor and Master level), biotech research is interdisciplinary and thus students from any other MSc or BSc programmes in our University and/or from other Italian or Foreign universities are welcome, e.g. Erasmus and other kind of stages. Of course, please contact me for acceptance and for defining together stage project and time slot.

PhD projects and theses are proposed in the context of our Doctoral School in Biosciences (Biochemistry and Biotechnology curriculum); for details please contact me.