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Dr Nuria Gavara


Research Funding

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Previous Funded Research Projects

Multiscale nuclear mechanobiology within the skin: from biophysical cues to epigenetic effects

Funding source: BBSRC
Start: 01-10-2017  /  End: 30-09-2021

The overall objective of the proposed project is to understand how forces are transmitted from the external environment to the nucleus and to determine the subsequent effects on nuclear structure, gene expression, and cell function within the epidermis of the skin. We will use advanced biophysical and imaging techniques to apply forces to single cells, and systems biology methodologies to analyse the changes in DNA structure and gene expression. In addition, we will test the role of internal cellular structures, such as the cytoskeleton, to gain mechanistic insight into these processes. Finally, we will investigate the influence of nuclear mechano-sensing in more complex 3D models of human skin. This is a collaboration with Dr John Connelly (PI)

Sensory and Supporting Cells in the Organ of Corti

Funding source: M.R.C.
Start: 01-09-2015  /  End: 31-08-2020

The aim of this project is to study force transmisison within the cochlea as it is mechanically stimulated by sound. This programme grant is lead by Brighton U. and features a combination of experimental approaches and novel modelling analysis. Our lab uses AFM to mechanically characterize speciallized cells in the cochlea, so that mechanical parameters can be fed into new models.

Mechno-regulation of genome function to direct stem cell rate

Funding source: B.B.S.R.C.
Start: 01-01-2017  /  End: 31-12-2019

Mechno-regulation of genome function to direct stem cell rate

Effect of cell age on cell migration and cytoskeletal reorganization’

Funding source: Dunhill Medical Trust
Start: 01-04-2016  /  End: 30-09-2017

Effect of cell age on cell migration and cytoskeletal reorganization


Funding source: Commission of the European Community
Start: 01-05-2014  /  End: 30-04-2017

Use cytoskeletal morphometrics to characterize cell function, behaviour and pathologies

Previous PhD Studentship Projects

Generation of novel genepin-crosslinked gelatin matrices for stem cell differentiation

Funding source: CSC
Start: 01-10-2017  /  End: 30-09-2021

The project explores the generation of novel genepin-crosslinked gelatin matrices for stem cell differentiation. We are particularly interested in tunning their viscoelastic properties to direct cell differentation towards osteogenic and adipogenic precursors

Biophysical biomarkers to characterizate the activation of cancer-associated fibroblasts

Funding source: Life Science Initiative
Start: 01-10-2018  /  End: 30-09-2021

We will explore how we can use cytoskeletal morphologies and cellular mechanics as a reliable biomarker of cancer-associated fibroblast activation. At later stages, we will test whether this biomarkers can be used as readout for drug screens to target the activated stroma of cancerous tissue.

Multi-scale transmission of forces to and within the nucleus

Funding source: Life Sciences Initiative
Start: 01-10-2016  /  End: 30-09-2019

The project aims to determine the regulation of nuclear mechanics by the cytoskeleton and specifically, the impact of mechanical stimuli on nuclear architecture and chromatin.

Biophysical characterization of bleb-based migration in cancer cells

Funding source: China Scholarship Council (CSC)
Start: 01-09-2015  /  End: 01-09-2019

We aim to characterize how the cytoskeleton and ERM proteins polarize their intracellular localization as main driver for directed bleb-based cell migration in cancer cells

Mechanical stimuli to direct stem cell differentiation

Funding source: European Commission
Start: 01-01-2015  /  End: 31-12-2017

The project aims at establishing optimal mechanical loading protocols to induce stem cell differentiation, combined with simultaneous real-time tracking of the differentiation process.

Cytoskeletal organization as a cell biomarker

Funding source: Start-up allocation
Start: 01-12-2013  /  End: 01-07-2017

During differentiation, mesenchymal stem cells lose their fibroblast-like shape to adopt a lineage- specific cellular morphology. The project aims at using cytoskeletal morphology as a fast real-time biomarker of the differentiation process.

Other Research Projects

Mechano-regulation of genome function to direct stem cell fate

This project addresses the concept that the nucleus acts as a sensor for mechanical stimuli. By characterising biophysical and epigenetic changes as stem cells differentiate, we will identify pathways responsible for the alteration of cellular mechanosensitivity. These can then be targeted to repair defective mechanosensitivity in diseased or aged cells.

3D mapping the cell's mechanical properties with AFM

Cellular elasticity is routinely used as a biomarker because it readily reflects the cellular composition and internal structure of cells. We aim at establishing AFM-based protocols to obtain 3D maps of the cell’s mechanical properties and correlate them with cytoskeletal organization and composition.