Caterina A. M. La Porta is professor of general pathology, group leader of the Oncolab Laboratory (www.oncolab.it) of the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and member of the steering committee of the Center for Complexity and Biosystems (www.complexitybiosistems.it), of the Innovation For Well-Being And Environment Center and of the Center for Molecular chemio-prevention (CMCP) of chronic degenerative diseases (CDS) at the University of Milan. She is also the coordinator of the interdisciplinary laboratory “Integrative approach for Global Health” since 2022.
Prof. La Porta is included in the list of the World’s Top 2% Cited Scientists 2023 by Stanford University. She spent many periods abroad collaborating with many international universities and research institutes including MIT, Cornell University, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Aalto University and LMU In Germany. In 2017, she was selected among the “100 experts” the top women scientists in Italy (https://100esperte.it/). She was included in the exhibition of portraits of the 100 female scientists taken by photographer Gerald Bruneau that has been exhibited not only in Italy but around the world including USA (Washington, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York), Prague, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico City and the Technion in Haifa, Israel).
She was trained as a general pathologist and cell biologist and spent most of her career trying to understand basic phenomena in biological sciences, initially in neuroscience and later on in cancer using molecular biology and cell biology approaches. The main focus of her group is to understand cancer heterogeneity and in particular melanoma and breast cancer, one of the most aggressive tumors. In the last fifteen years, she shifted her interests to quantitative biology and digital medicine. She studied the emergent properties of cancer by developing algorithms able to catch quantitatively the dynamics of the complex regulatory networks of the cell (Ariadne, Stella). She published more than 150 publications contributing to the fields of digital medicine, cancer plasticity, computational biology, system biology, neuroscience, biophysics and biomaterials. In 2017, she wrote a textbook on the “Physics of Cancer” published by Cambridge University Press.
A natural consequence of her work on cancer heterogeneity with big data has been the birth of the spinoff and innovative startup COMPLEXDATA in June 2018, where she serves as CEO and president of the governing board (www.complexdata.it). Her successful story combining science and entrepreneurship was selected by Assolombarda for the exposition “Genio e Impresa” in 2019. Complexdata developed the platform ARIADNE which uses in an innovative way artificial intelligence to predict the aggressiveness of triple negative breast cancer that from 2021 is certified in the EU as a type 2a medical device. She won many competitions with ARIADNE and Complexdata was also incubated in the Italian G-Factor incubator in 2019.