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Giulio Superti-Furga: a true pioneer in systems biology and genomic transparency

There are people that believe everything that makes a person is determined by his or her genes. If you should be somebody with this belief you could have a look at the 2020 International Symposium on Chemical Biology keynote speaker Giulio Superti-Furga’s genome sequence and have all your questions answered in the As, Cs, Gs and Ts of his DNA sequence, which has been published by the Genom Austria initiative.

As one of the Genom Austria initiators, Professor Superti-Furga of the CeMM in Vienna was the first volunteer to have his genome sequenced and published to be freely available. Just one more sign of his dedication to science and innovation exploring the new and unknown and entering into a public debate about the hopes and the risks of modern medicine. He has given interviews and a TED talk on his personal experience with genome sequencing.

On the other hand, of course, what is much more important and interesting is the question what we do with the genes that we inherited from our parents. In this respect, it would be quite a waste to only look at the DNA of Giulio Superti-Furga and forget about his many achievements. He was born and raised in Northern Italy and undertook his university studies in Zurich, San Francisco and Vienna. Postdoctoral research led him to the EMBL in Heidelberg where he later started also his first independent research group and founded his first company Cellzome. As one of the early advocates of systems biology, he introduced this scientific approach also into medicine when he became Scientific Director of the Center for Molecular Medicine (CeMM) in Vienna, Austria, and later Professor for Medical Systems Biology at the Medical University of Vienna. While in Vienna he has founded two more companies, Haplogen GmbH that generates genetic research tools and allcyte GmbH focusing on personalized medicine.

Giulio Superti-Furga has made seminal contributions to the bio-medical sciences exploring the organizational mechanisms of proteome and lipidome as well as regulatory mechanisms in cancer biology, innate immunity, and infection. His most cited studies explored protein complexes in yeast cells and were conducted together with recently joined NCCR Chemical Biology member Anne-Claude Gavin while both of them were still working in Heidelberg.

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