Biomechanics in health and disease:
advanced physical tools for innovative early diagnosis
H2020-MSCA-ITN-2018 n. 812772

ESR8. Maria Leonor Narciso


Short biographic note

I completed my integrated master’s programme in Biomedical Engineering in 2019 from Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon. My master’s specialization was in Biomechanics and Medical Devices and during these years I developed a great interest for mechanobiology and the role of mechanics in diseases.

Consequently, the research for the master thesis was carried out in a mechanobiology lab in KU Leuven’s – the MATrix group. There, I developed and optimized nanoindentation protocols for the mechanical characterization of soft hydrogels that are used in 3D Traction Force Microscopy for in vitro invasion assays. I also learned a lot about research and decided to pursue my studies and apply for a PhD position.

Currently, I am based in IBEC in Barcelona and am focused on defining the differential mechanical properties of lung tissue and ECM clinical biopsies in the context of lung cancer diagnosis using AFM technology..





Project Title

Tissue and ECM mechanical fingerprints of lung cancer


Start date

1st June 2019






To define differential mechanical properties of tissue and extracellular matrix (ECM) of lung clinical biopsies performed for lung cancerdiagnosis.


Expected results

The study will be carried out in tissue samples obtained from biopsies performed for lung cancer diagnosis at the Clinic Hospital of Barcelona (affiliated with UB). Standardised protocols for preparation of lung tissue samples obtained from biopsies for AFM measurements. Characterisation of viscoelastic properties of normal and cancer lung ECM and tissue. Mechanical heterogeneity of normal and cancer lung tissues. Correlation between mechanical properties, molecular composition and structure of ECM of normal and cancer lung tissues. Mechanical fingerprints of parenchymal tissue and acellular ECM in patients with lung cancer.


Planned secondments.

1. WWU, H. Schillers (month 6, 2 months). Methods to immobilise tissue samples for mechanical tests. 2. CNRS, F. Lafont (month 12, 3 months). Technical approaches to correlate mechanical and structural data. 3. O11, D. Iannuzzi (month 18, 2 months). Techniques to measure tissue rheology for clinical applications; 4. IFJPAN, M. Lekka (month 24, 2 months). Standardise AFM measurements in cancer samples.


Image-Based Method to Quantify Decellularization of Tissue Sections. Maria Narciso, Jorge Otero, Daniel Navajas, Ramon Farré, Isaac Almendros and Núria Gavara. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 202122(16), 8399;