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Dr Nuria Gavara


Research Overview

diagnostics, Cell mechanics, mechanobiology, tissue engineering, stem cells, Atomic Force microscopy, traction force microscopy, machine learning


We are interested in mechanobiology in general, and in the mechanical behaviour of cells in particular. The lab has several running projects:

  1.  Image-based diagnostics a d drug screening using the cell's cytoskeleton. We are particularly interested in Cancer Associated Fibroblast (CAF) and finding drugs that can reduce their activation levels.
  2. Assessing how the cytoskeleton can be used as a biomarker for health and disease, especially in the differentiation of stem cells subjected to mechanical stimui. 
  3. Developing new data analysis tools for image quantification and AFM cell mechanics. We are specially interested in integrating these tools with machine learning algorithms for diagnostic and screening in biomedicine.
  4. The mechanical interaction between the cytoskeleton and the nucleus, especially focusing on the role of intermediate filaments in chromatin state;
  5. Establishing the role of ERM proteins in enabling bleb-based directed migration in cancer cells.
  6. Characterizing the elements of the cytoskeleton that are involved in age-related impaired cell migration and wound healing. 
  7. We also have collaborations in research topics involving mechanobiology and hearing mechanics.

We use an inter-disciplinary approach combining state-of-the art microscopy techniques such as atomic force microscopy, confocal microscopy, traction force microscopy, advanced image analysis, machine learning, molecular biology and biomaterials science.

Most of our projects involve implementing novel technical approaches based on those methods, either by costumizing its hardware components or by developing new pipelines for data acquisition and analysis.