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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory


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. He is a prominent advocate of biological physics mationally (Chair IOP Biological Physics group) and in Cambridge (co-PI of the Center for Physical Biology).


Pietro's current research interests revolve around three main areas of funding: regulation of gene expression in bacteria; understanding synchronisation of motile 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: 

Silvia Kariuki, Alejandro Marin-Menendez, Viola Introini, Benjamin Ravenhill, Yen-Chun Lin, Alex Macharia, Johnstone Makale, Metrine Tendwa, Wilfred Nyamu, Jurij Kotar, Manuela Carrasquilla, J. Alexandra Rowe, Kirk Rockett, Dominic Kwiatkowski, Michael Weekes, Pietro Cicuta, Tom Williams and Julian Rayner
Red blood cell tension controls Plasmodium falciparum invasion and protects against severe malaria in the Dantu blood group
Nature in press (2020)

Nicola Pellicciotta, Evelyn Hamilton, Jurij Kotar, Marion Faucourt, Nathalie Degehyr, Nathalie Spassky and Pietro Cicuta
Entrainment of mammalian motile cilia in the brain with hydrodynamic forces
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 10.1073/pnas.1910065117 in press (2020)

M. Chioccioli*, L. Feriani*, J. Kotar, P.E. Bratcher, P. Cicuta
Phenotyping ciliary dynamics and coordination in response to CFTR-modulators and Thymosin-alpha1 in Cystic Fibrosis respiratory epithelial cells
Nature Communications 10, 1763 (2019)

M. Chioccioli, L. Feriani, Q. Nguyen, J. Kotar, S. D. Dell, V. Mennella, I. Amirav and P. Cicuta
Quantitative high speed video profiling discriminates between variants of primary ciliary dyskinesia
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in press (2019)

Ryan A. Brady, Nicholas J. Brooks, Vito Foderà, Pietro Cicuta and Lorenzo Di Michele
Amphiphilic-DNA Platform for the Design of Crystalline Frameworks with Programmable Structure and Functionality
JACS 140, 45, 15384-15392 (2018)

Armando Maestro, Nicolas Bruot, Jurij Kotar, Nariya Uchida, Ramin Golestanian and Pietro Cicuta
Control of synchronization in models of hydrodynamically coupled motile cilia
Communications Physics 1, 28 (2018)

Emma L. Talbot, Lucia Parolini, Jurij Kotar, Lorenzo Di Michele and Pietro Cicuta
Thermal driven domain and cargo transport in lipid membranes
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 114 846-851 (2017)


Complete list of publications

Head of Biological and Soft Systems
Corpus Christi, Fellow
Chair of IOP Biological Physics group
Professor Pietro  Cicuta

Contact Details

Email address: 
Room 901 Rutherford Building
Cavendish Laboratory
JJ Thomson Avenue
+44 (0)1223 337462


Person keywords: 
Experimental condensed matter physics
Statistical Physics
Biological Physics
Soft Condensed Matter