ICREA Academia

Pere Roca-Cusachs

ICREA Academia 2018

Universitat de Barcelona · Life & Medical Sciences

Pere Roca-Cusachs obtained his PhD in cellular biophysics in 2007 from the Medical School at the University of Barcelona. He then worked in the lab of Prof. Michael Sheetz (Columbia University) as a post-doctoral researcher until 2011. He is currently a Serra-Hunter Associate Professor at the University of Barcelona, and Group Leader at the Institute for bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC). His group studies the physical and molecular mechanisms by which cells detect and respond to mechanical signals.  He currently coordinates an EU-funded Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) project dedicated to understanding the mechanical control of biological function. He is a recipient of the EMBO Young Investigator award, the 2017 City of Barcelona award to the life sciences, and the 2019 Young Investigator Award of the European Biophysical Societies Association (EBSA).


Research interests

Every time we blink, move a hand, draw a breath, or walk, cells in our body exert, transmit, withstand, and detect forces. This mechanical interaction with the environment determines how cells proliferate, differentiate, and move, and regulates development, tumorigenesis or wound healing. Just like biochemical stimuli initiate signaling cascades, mechanical forces affect the links and conformation of a network of molecules connecting cells to the extracellular matrix. Our research aims precisely at unraveling the mechanisms that these molecules use to detect and respond to mechanical stimuli like forces or tissue rigidity, triggering downstream cell responses. To this end, we combine biophysical techniques like magnetic tweezers, Atomic Force Microscopy, traction microscopy, and microfabricated force sensors with molecular biology, advanced optical microscopy, and theoretical modelling.


Keywords

biomaterials, mechanobiology, nanotechnology, biomechanics, biophysics, adhesion