Andrea Califano

Andrea Califano


Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology
Chair, Department of Systems Biology
Director, JP Sulzberger Columbia Genome Center


Department of Systems Biology
Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Center for Cancer Systems Therapeutics
JP Sulzberger Columbia Genome Center
Department of Biomedical Informatics
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Institute for Cancer Genetics
Program for Mathematical Genomics

Executive Assistant:
Carolyn Williams

Andrea Califano, Dr., is a pioneer in the field of systems biology and founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. A physicist by training, Dr. Califano has taken innovative, systematic approaches to identify the molecular factors that lead to cancer progression and to the emergence of drug resistance at the single-cell level. Directing the conversation about cancer research away from focusing solely on gene mutations, Dr. Califano examines the complex and tumor-specific molecular interaction networks that determine cancer cell behavior. Using information theoretic approaches, analysis of these networks can precisely pinpoint master regulator proteins that are mechanistically responsible for supporting tumorigenesis and for implementing tumor cell homeostasis. Dr. Califano and his lab have shown that master regulators represent critical drivers and tumor dependencies, despite the fact that they are rarely mutated or differentially expressed, thus establishing them as a bona fide new class of therapeutic targets. 

The Califano Systems Biology Lab combines computational and experimental methodologies to reconstruct the regulatory and signaling logic of human cells in genome-wide fashion. In addition, his lab has developed methods for the systematic discovery of small molecule compounds and combinations that can inactivate master regulator proteins in cancer, thus providing novel therapeutic hypotheses that can be validated pre-clinically and clinically. Indeed, several of his findings have been translated into clinical studies, including an innovative N-of-1 study at Columbia in which master regulators are identified and pharmacologically targeted on an individual patient basis in several aggressive malignancies, thus getting a step closer to deliver on the promise of a truly mechanistic implementation of precision medicine.

Dr. Califano’s master regulator analyses have led to several discoveries that are being tested in the clinics, including the drug entinostat in a subset of metastatic neuroendocrine tumor patients, the use of combination therapy in HER2+ and inflammatory breast cancer,  and additional phase 2 clinical trials in patients with recurrent pancreatic ductal carcinoma and metastatic prostate cancer. His research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute, Lustgarten Foundation, Falconwood Foundation, Hyundai Hope on Wheels, the NET Research Foundation, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. 

Dr. Califano is the Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology in the Departments of Systems Biology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics and Biomedical Informatics and the founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology. He also serves as director of the JP Sulzberger Columbia Genome Center. Dr. Califano is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, 2015), the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB, 2017) and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE, 1997). In 2018, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.  

Dr. Califano is active nationally and internationally, serving as scientific editor of several peer-reviewed journals and on scientific advisory boards, including the Frederick National Laboratory, Tempus Inc., the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and MD Anderson Division of Cancer Medicine, among others. In 2015, he cofounded biotech startup DarwinHealth, Inc. and currently serves as its chief scientific advisor. He also has served as chair or co-chair of many international conferences and meetings including, 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; and several special conferences of the AACR on genomics and cancer systems biology. 


More News


DSB Retreat Boasts Diverse Research, Spotlights Young Investigators
Each year the Department of Systems Biology community comes together for an off-campus retreat to discuss science, share ongoing research and to network. During this year's two-day program, held in Ellenville, NY, research presentations were primarily delivered by young investigators, shining a light on the ongoing work by our graduate students and post-docs.
Behind the Technique: Systems Biology with Andrea Califano
At the 2019 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Dr. Andrea Califano sat down with BioTechniques News for an overview on the field of systems biology and its impact in cancer research and in precision medicine. Dr. Califano is a pioneering researcher in the field of systems biology whose expertise is in developing innovative, systematic approaches to identify the molecular factors that lead to cancer progression and to the emergence of drug resistance at the single-cell level. Dr. Califano is the Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology and founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Columbia.
Targeting Cancer and Careers: Precision Medicine
In the field of oncology, innovations continue to grow rapidly in precision, or targeted medicine, as clinicians seek to find better treatments for specific kinds of cancer, rather than take a blanket approach to treating patients. This emerging direction in medicine and cancer research has also given birth to a flood of new jobs in previously unseen areas such as business, translational medicine and genetic counseling. Science magazine recently spoke to Andrea Califano, Dr, founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology and a pioneering researcher in this space, to get his thoughts about the rapidly growing field of precision medicine.
Prostate Cancer Grant Spotlights Columbia’s Aim to Deliver Precision Cancer Medicine
Columbia University Irving Medical Center experts in prostate cancer will lead a new team research project that tests a novel approach for personalized cancer treatment. The two-year project, funded by a $1 million Challenge Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation, combines computational methods for targeted drug therapy, single-cell RNA sequencing and novel cancer immunotherapy. The combined approaches are behind a proof-of-concept clinical trial for patients at Bronx VA with lethal metastatic prostate cancer.
Innovative Engine: Medical Research
Columbia University researchers are rewriting the course of scientific investigation, intent on speeding up the process of discovery that will help patients with cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and other intractable diagnoses. In cancer, Dr. Andrea Califano decided to turn cancer treatment theory on its head. In a feature published in the College of Physicians & Surgeons’ Annual Report, Dr. Califano’s work in precision cancer medicine is highlighted, along with the work of other Columbia innovators who are having an impact on medical research.