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Anna Taubenberger - Oncomechanics

Cancer cells and their surrounding tissue are characterised by altered biomechanical properties. So far, it is not well understood how precisely these mechanical changes affect the cells’ metastatic potential in vivo. We address this question by mechanically characterising tumour samples to instruct physiologically relevant 3D in vitro models. The latter are employed in combination with in vivo models to systematically study the role of cell and microenvironment stiffness on tumour spheroid growth, invasion, drug resistance, and metastasis. We aim at elucidating mechanisms by which cells sense their mechanical environment in 3D and how this can be potentially exploited for new therapeutic approaches.

Homepage of Mildred-Scheel-Nachwuchszentrum (MSNZ):

Curriculum Vitae


  • 2004 - 2009     PhD thesis Faculty of Engineering, TU Dresden
  • 2001 - 2002     University of Talca, Chile
  • 1999 - 2004     Bioprocess Engineering, TU Dresden

Academic Career

  • Since 05/2020 Mildreed - Scheel - Nachwuchszentrum (MSNZ), Research Group Leader affiliated
                              with BIOTEC TU Dresden
  • 2013 - 2020     Postdoctoral Fellow, BIOTEC Dresden, Group of Cellular Machines, Prof. Jochen Guck
  • 2009 - 2012     Postdoctoral Fellow, Queensland University of Technology, Group of Regenerative Medicine, Prof. Dietmar Hutmacher

Honors / Awards

  • DFG postdoctorial fellowship
  • Early career fellowship, QUT Australia


Our previous work has shown that growth in stiff microenvironments causes compressive stress on breast cancer spheroids, which concomitantly alters their cytoskeleton organisation, increases constituent cell stiffness and slows down cell cycle progression. This contributes to a better understanding of how tumor cells adapt their proliferation under compressive stress in confining microenvironments. To characterise cell mechanical properties from single cells to complex tissues, a toolbox of atomic force microscopy and real time deformability cytometry (RT-DC) is used.

Research Aims

Investigate the link between microenvironment mechanics and spheroid growth, mechanics, and invasion using bioengineered models

Test the functional role of cell mechanics in cancer cell invasion and metastasis using in vitro and in vivo models

Unravel mechanisms of how do cells sense the mechanical properties of their 3D microenvironment

Identify clinical markers for individualized breast cancer therapy

selected Publications

Matthews HK, Ganguli S, Plak K, Taubenberger AV, Piel M, Guck J, Baum B. Oncogenic signaling alters cell shape and mechanics to facilitate cell division under confinement. Developmental Cell.  2020 Mar 9;52(5):563-573.e3. 

Taubenberger A, Girardo S, Träber N, Fischer Friedrich E, Kräter M, Wagner K, Kurth T, Richter I, Haller B, Binner M, Hahn D, Freudenberg U, Werner C, Guck J, 3D microenvironment stiffness regulates tumor spheroid growth and mechanics via p21 and ROCK. Advanced Biosystems 3 (9): 1900128 (2019).

Tavares S, Vieira AF*, Taubenberger AV*, Araújo M*, Pimpao Santos Martins N, Brás-Pereira C, Polónia A, Herbig M, Barreto C, Otto O, Cardoso J, Pereira-Leal JB, Guck J, Paredes J and Janody F. Actin stress fiber organization promotes cell stiffening and proliferation of pre-invasive breast cancer cells. Nature Communications 8: 15237 (2017) *equal contribution, Citations: 27.

Martine LC, Holzapfel BM, McGovern JA, Wagner F, Quent VM, Hesami P, Wunner F, Vaquette C, De Juan Pardo E, Brown TD, Nowlan B, Jing Wu D, Hutmacher C, Moi D, Oussenko T, Piccinini E, Zandstra P, Mazzieri R, Lévesque J-P, Dalton PD, Taubenberger AV & Hutmacher DW. Engineering a humanized bone organ in mice to study bone metastases. Nature Protocols 12 (4): 639 (2017). Citations: 41.

Taubenberger AV, Bray LJ, Haller B, Shaposhnykov A, Binner M, Freudenberg U, Guck J, Werner C. 3D extracellular matrix interactions modulate tumour cell growth, invasion and angiogenesis in engineered tumour microencironments. Acta Biomaterialia. 2016 May;36:73-85 (2016). Citations: 45.


For complete publication record see ORCID



Dr. Anna Taubenberger
Technische Universität Dresden
Biotechnology Center
Tatzberg 47/49
01307 Dresden, Germany
Email: anna.taubenberger(at)tu-dresden.de
Tel: +49 (0)351 463 40 324
Fax: +49 (0)351 463 40 342

Till Kirst
Administrative Assistant
Technische Universität Dresden
Biotechnology Center
Tatzberg 47/49
01307 Dresden, Germany
Email: till.kirst(at)tu-dresden.de
Tel: +49 (0)351 463 40349
Fax: +49 (0)351 463 40342

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