Project Title

The influence of the microenvironment of healthy and tumoural cells.

Start date

1st June 2019




To investigate the response of healthy and tumoural cells to controlled chemical-physical stimuli provided by the microenvironment; to develop reliable and standardised approaches for the nano-mechanical characterisation by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) of cells, ExtraCellular Matrices (ECMs) and other soft samples.

Expected Results

The ESR will develop suitable platforms based on morphologically and chemically patterned substrates to provide controlled stimuli to healthy and cancerous cells. Suitably patterned substrates for cell culture using nanostructured/nanocomposite materials with controlled morphology and elasticity mimicking natural ECMs will be used to provide mechanical stimuli to cells, triggering mechanotransduction processes. The ESR will characterise the mechanical phenotype of cells in different stimulation conditions by means of AFM coupled to optical techniques, and commercial nano-indentation techniques. The ESR’s project will have a strong focus on methodological aspects of the research, including calibration of probes, modelling and data analysis, and contribute to the network-wide standardisation effort. ESR will be involved actively on several network tasks in training, dissemination and communication, and will support coordination activities of the PI.

Planned secondments

Optics11 (The Netherlands), mastering commercial nano-indenter Piuma; University of Bremen (Germany), optimising calibration of AFM probes and data analysis; Vmicro SAS (France), development of custom probes and interferometric calibration; INSERM (France), study of mechanical response of cells in confined/patterned geometries; JUMC (Poland), studying the phenotype of malignant cells and advanced sample preparation procedures.


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