Barbara Di Ventura
Barbara Di Ventura studied computer engineering at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. She got fascinated by molecular biology when, during her master thesis, she worked on identification techniques to infer the topology of gene networks from microarray expression profile data. She carried out her PhD in the group of Luis Serrano at the EMBL, Heidelberg, where she worked in the fields of systems and synthetic biology, combining experiments with mathematical modeling. As a postdoctoral fellow with Victor Sourjik, she continued to use an interdisciplinary approach to study the Min system, the protein machinery that is used by Escherichia coli cells to find their middle. She recently made the surprising discovery that the Min system mediates a novel Brownian ratchet-type mechanism of chromosome segregation, challenging the conventional view that the Min system only functions in mid-cell determination. Since November 2011, she heads the Synthetic Biology group in the department of Roland Eils, in the BioQuant, Heidelberg. Barbara believes in the power of synthetic biology to create new functional devises and to teach important lessons about natural biological systems. She finds the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition truly exciting, because it gives her the chance to interact with young, motivated and enthusiastic students from all over the world. She is particularly proud of being the supervisor of the iGEM team Heidelberg, who has won the Grand Prize twice in 2013 and 2014.