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Cambridge Reproduction


I am an experimental biophysicist interested in the role of mechanical properties of cells in cell and tissue function. In my postdoctoral project, I am aiming to explore how cell fate is influenced by cell surface mechanics in gastruloids, a multicellular model system mimicking a gastrulating embryo. In particular, I am interested in tracing changes in cell shape and mechanics concomitant with cell differentiation towards mesendoderm and neurectoderm in the multicellular context of the gastruloid. To achieve this, I am implementing advanced microscopy techniques and state-of-the-art methods for in situ mechanical characterisation. In the final stages of the projects, I aim to perturb cell mechanics during gastruloid growth using (opto)genetic tools, and monitor the impact of these perturbations on cell fate and spatial patterning. Together, my project will generate a single-cell-level understanding of the interplay between cell surface mechanics, cell shape, and cell fate in developing gastruloids, and thus contribute to answering the long-standing question in developmental biology of how physical determinants coalesce with biochemical signalling to drive embryogenesis.

Marta Urbanska