Andrea Califano is the Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, with cross-appointments in Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, Biomedical Informatics, and Medicine. From 2013 to 2023, he was the Founding Chair of the Department of Systems Biology and Director of the JP Sulzberger Columbia Genome Center.
In 1986, after completing a doctoral thesis in physics at the University of Florence, Italy, and postdoctoral training at MIT, Dr. Califano joined the IBM TJ Watson Research Center, where, in 1997, he became program director of the IBM Computational Biology Center. In 2000, he co-founded First Genetic Trust Inc. to pursue translational genomics research. Finally, he joined Columbia in 2003.
Califano is an internationally recognized pioneer in the reverse engineering and interrogation of gene regulatory networks. He has discovered a new class of Master Regulator proteins representing the regulatory bottleneck responsible for canalizing the effect of mutations and aberrant endocrine and paracrine signals into the transcriptional state of cancer cells. As a result, Master Regulators have emerged as highly conserved non-oncogene dependencies that are independent of the specific mutational landscape of different tumors in the same subtype.
This novel discovery framework has helped elucidate key mechanisms underlying tumorigenesis and drug sensitivity and their translation has resulted in several clinical trials, from breast and pancreatic adenocarcinoma to neuroendocrine tumors, sarcomas, and glioblastoma, including an innovative N of 1 trial enrolling across 18 distinct malignancies.
Califano is very active nationally, serving on numerous editorial and scientific advisory boards, including for The MIT Koch Cancer Center, Cancer Genetics Inc., Dana Farber Cancer Center, OHSU Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care, the WIN consortium, the German Cancer Center (DKFZ), DOE-NCI Cancer Moonshot project, as well as of the Pershing Square and Damon Runyon Foundations. He has served as chair or co-chair of many international conferences and meetings, including the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR); the RECOMB-ISCB Conference on Regulatory and Systems Genomics, with DREAM Challenges; Keystone Conferences; as well as several special conferences of the AACR on genomics and cancer systems biology.
Califano has received several awards and recognitions, including the 2015 and 2022 NCI Outstanding Investigator Award, the 2019 Ruth Leff Award in Pancreatic Cancer, and the 2023 NCI Alfred G. Knudson Award in Cancer Genetics. He is a Member of the National Academy of Medicine and a Fellow of the AAAS, the International Society of Computational Biology, and the IEEE; he is also Co-founder of DarwinHealth Inc.