Beneficiary 1 - Coordinator

Scuola Superiore di studi universitari e di perfezionamento Sant'Anna


The Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (SSSA) ( is a public university for research and advanced undergraduate and graduate education in the fields of Social and Experimental Sciences. It comprises six institutes. Among them, the BioRobotics Institute (directed by Paolo Dario and involving more than 150 staff member and more than 90 PhD students) exploits knowledge and technologies coming from various fields of engineering (mechanical, electronic, computer science, chemistry, materials, energy) for developing bio-applied and bio-inspired robots at several sizes (from macro to micro). EndoVESPA will be developed in the Surgical Robotics and Allied Technologies Area, which is one of the eight research areas of The BioRobotics Institute. The BioRobotics Institute traditional equipment is related to microengineering and high precision mechanical engineering. The traditional equipment of the Institute and of the Surgical Robotics and Allied Technologies Area is related to microengineering and high precision mechanical engineering. It possesses a healthy equipped wet lab (40 m2) for the development and validation of innovative robotic systems for robotic surgery: four 6 degrees-of-freedom industrial manipulators (Mitsubishi RV-3SB and RV-6SL and 2 ABB IRB 120), haptic interfaces, a surgical table, a stereo-photogrammetric localization system, realistic phantoms mimicking human anatomy (e.g., for colonoscopy), and additional miniature surgical and diagnostic robots developed internally. Additionally, in January 2014, the BioRobotics Institute received as donation from Intuitive Surgical, a DaVinci Research Kit (DVRK) for education and research, by entering a surgical robotic network, as unique institution in Europe, with access to the hardware and software tools of the Da Vinci robot.


Main responsibilities within EndoVESPA are the following: i) project scientific and administrative management; ii) adaptation and development of the robotic-aided colonoscopic platform; iii) locomotion and localization strategies; iv) navigation approach based on magnetic modelling; v) robot interaction and safety strategies in unstructured environments; vi) smart sensing tool development for tissue stiffness evaluation; and vii) risk assessment, dissemination and intellectual proprieties assessment.


The BioRobotics Institute has an outstanding record of publications and patents, and it performs high-level interdisciplinary research at the interface between robotics and bioengineering. Within The BioRobotics Institute, the specific research group who has generated the EndoVESPA proposal developed more than 30 international patents and has been or is still involved in more than 10 National projects, more than 20 projects funded by the European Commission, 2 European Competence Centres, 3 European Networks of Excellence and several International projects and co-operations. Of the 15 EU Projects coordinated by The BioRobotics Institute in the last decade, about half are on topics related to EndoVESPA. The coordination activities of the Institute and in general of SSSA have always been very smooth and effective. Since 2002, SSSA has grown an administrative department specialized in the management of European Projects of the 5th, 6th and 7th Framework Programs, and now approaches the Horizon 2020 Framework. Therefore, this outstanding experience guarantees the coordination activity of European Projects administratively smooth, together with scientifically effective.


Prof. Paolo Dario is the Coordinator of the EndoVESPA project proposal. He received his Dr. Eng. Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pisa, Italy, in 1977. He is currently Professor of Biomedical Robotics at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa. He has been visiting researcher and professor at Brown University, USA, at EPFL, Switzerland, at College de France, France, at Polytechnic University of Catalunya, Spain, at Zhejiang University, China, at Waseda University, Japan, and at Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He is the Director of the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, where he supervises a team of about 150 researchers and Ph.D. students and the Director of Polo Sant’Anna Valdera, a Research Center located in Pontedera (Pisa, Italy). His main research interests are in the fields of medical robotics, bio-robotics, mechatronics and micro/nano-engineering, and specifically in sensors and actuators for the above applications, and in robotics for rehabilitation. He is the coordinator of many National and European projects, the editor of two books on robotics, and the author of more than 500 scientific papers (more than 250 on ISI journals). He is Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor and member of the Editorial Board of many international journals. He has been an invited plenary speaker in many international conferences. Prof. Dario has served as President of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society between 2002-2003. He has been the General Chair of the BioRob’06 Conference (The First IEEE/RAS-EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics), of ICRA 2007 (International Conference on Robotics and Automation), ISG 2008 (the 6th Conference of the International Society for Gerontechnology) and of the First National Congress of Bioengineering (GNB 2008). Prof. Dario is an IEEE Fellow, a Fellow of the European Society on Medical and Biological Engineering, and a recipient of many honors and awards, such as the Joseph Engelberger Award. He is also a member of the Board of the International Foundation of Robotics Research (IFRR). In 2009, he has been appointed Fellow of the School of Engineering of the University of Tokyo.

Dr. Gastone Ciuti received the Master’s degree (with honours) in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Pisa, Italy, in 2008 with a thesis entitled “Study and development of endoscopic robot with locomotion based on permanent magnetic field”, work carried out at CRIM (Center for Research in Microengineering) Lab of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy. He also won the 8th edition of the Master Thesis Price of the National group of Bioengineering at the summer school in Bressanone, Italy in 2008. That same year, he joined the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa as a Ph.D. student and in 2012 he obtained the Ph.D. in Innovative Technologies of Info. & Com. Eng. and Robotics at The BioRobotics Institute of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna discussing a thesis entitled “Innovative control platform for robotic microsystems in endoluminal surgery”. Dr Ciuti is currently an Assistant Professor at The BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Surgical Robotics and Allied Technologies group and head of the Computer-Integrated Technologies for Robotic Surgery laboratory (from January 1st, 2014). In 2013, he performed an Executive Master in Project Management learning issues significant for the possible definition of National and International research projects. Since 2011, Dr Ciuti is involved with teaching in the course “Medical Robotics” held by Prof. Paolo Dario at the University of Pisa. In October 2013, Dr Ciuti designed “Cultore della Materia” in Medical Robotics. Dr Ciuti was an exchange researcher at FORTH - Institute of Computer Science, Heraklion, Crete, Greece in 2009, at MED Lab, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA in 2010 and at The Hamlyn Centre, Imperial College London, UK in 2012. Gastone Ciuti supervised several Master students; he was the technical mentor of three students (one within a Fulbright Scholarship program) and the technical tutor of a PhD student in Biorobotics at the BioRobotics Institute of SSSA. Dr Ciuti is the co-author of more than 40 scientific publications on computer-integrated platforms and innovative devices for medical robotic intervention and treatment (more than 20 on ISI journals) and he is also the inventor of 7 patents.

Prof. Arianna Menciassi is Associate Professor of Biomedical Robotics at SSSA and team leader and principal research investigator of the “Surgical Robotics and Allied Technologies” group at The BioRobotics Institute. Last year she was Visiting Professor at the Ecole Nationale Superiorieure de Mecaniques et des Microtechniques (ENSMM) of Besancon (France), in the FEMTO Institute. She has considerable experience in leading interdisciplinary teams toward successful outcomes. Furthermore, she has a substantial devotion to training and education, having served as preceptor to 10 postdoctoral associates, 15 PhD students and 20 graduate degree recipients. Her main research interests include biomedical robotics, bio-hybrid systems, microsystem technology, nanotechnology and micro-mechatronics, with a special attention to the synergy between robot-assisted therapy and micro-nano-biotechnology-related solutions. She also focuses on cell-based systems with the dual purpose of investigating novel regeneration strategies for diseased tissue/organs and exploiting the unique properties of living cells/tissues within biomedical integrated devices. She carries on an important activity of scientific management of several projects, European and International, with several collaborations abroad and an intense research activity. She is the co-author of more than 270 scientific publications (more than 130 on ISI journals) and 6 book chapters on biomedical robots/devices and micro-technology. She is also inventor of 25 patents, both National and International. Until August 2013, she served in the Editorial Board of the IEEE-ASME Trans. on Mechatronics and she is now Topic Editor in Medical Robotics of the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems; she is Co-Chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Surgical Robotics.

In the year 2007, she received the Well-tech Award (Milan, Italy) for her researches on endoscopic capsules, and she was awarded by the Tuscany Region with the Gonfalone D’Argento, as one of the best 10 young talents of the region.

Dr. Calogero M. Oddo, has a Ph.D. in BioRobotics from SSSA, M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Electronic Engineering from University of Pisa, 1st and 2nd level degrees in Industrial and Information Engineering from SSSA (10 positions, 334 applicants), all with honours.

He is currently Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and coordinates a laboratory of 15 research fellows. He has over 45 conference and journal publications and a growing track record in integrating bio-robotics and neuroscience, with particular interests in the study of the human sense of touch and on its artificial engineering, and in this field he authored high-impact publications (Science Translational Medicine, Plos One, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, Sensors and Actuators A). He has a H-index of 11 (source: GoogleScholar). He has a growing portfolio of successful research grants and he is WP leader within EU-FP7 (Nanobiotouch, Nebias) and National (HandBot PRIN, Intelligent Factory National Cluster, Parloma Smart Cities and Social Innovation call) projects. He is the recipient of the Working Capital grant with the SensAlone project, funded by the Telecom Italia company (30 grants, 2133 applicants). In 2012, he was finalist in the “Georges Giralt PhD Award”, the most important European PhD award in robotics, organized by EURON, the “EUropean RObotics research Network”, and in 2009 he was finalist for the Best Student Paper Award at the IEEE Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics.

Dr. Selene Tognarelli, PhD in Biorobotics, she is holding a Technology Reserach position at the BioRobotics Institute since 2014. Her main research interests include the design, development and use-case pre-clinical assessment/validation of miniaturized device for abdominal surgery and management issues for national and international projects. She is the main author of several breakthrough papers in the field of minimally invasive robotic surgery in top ISI journals and international robotic conferences. She is also inventor of 2 national and international patents. Both for her active involvement in the development of medical devices and her hands-on experiences in the field of use-case clinical validation, she is actively involved in the B.E.S.T (The Business Engineering and Surgical Technology) innovation program committee at IRCAD, Strasbourg, France.