Inst. of Cell Biology - Institute Associated Research Group - Mechanics of cellular systems
We are a young team and have plenty of opportunities at different levels. In particular, we are looking for students and postdocs that are interested in working at the interface between cell biology and physics. Thanks to this interdisciplinary approach, we can offer projects that span from classical cell biology subjects, over more experimental physics subjects, up to theoretical physics approaches.

Students from many backgrounds are welcome (medicine, biology, physics, math or computer scientists) to work with us on cutting-edge problems in cell mechanics, reconstituted systems and fundamental non-equilibrium statistical mechanics questions. We currently have opportunities for projects in the following directions:

1) Active and passive mechanical properties of cells

This project direction will use optical tweezers and high accuracy position measurements to quantify the motion of intracellular particles as well as membranes (intracellular, but also plasma-membrane). The aim is to determine precisely how cells control and tune their mechanical properties to perform fundamental functions, such as motility, proliferation but also intercellular interaction as in development and immunology.

2) Cell-ECM interaction in the context of cancer invasion and immunology
We are interested in the physical interactions between the extra cellular matrix and individual cells or tissue models. A particular focus will be on the forces that migrating cells exert on the ECM, and how these forces may change the properties of the ECM. These properties are studied by use optical tweezers, traction force microscopy and UV-based microcutting.

3) Collective migration in dense systems, such as model tumours and development

The physical description of tissue dynamics is an important research area with many applications. Currently the description of active fluids is the most successful to describe these complex situations. We currently develop the tools to simultaneously measure all of the relevant parameters for these descriptions, which are tissue flow, density, viscoelastic properties and mechanical forces in the tissue. We aim to get direct insight how cells are adjusting forces, adhesion and mechanics to generate the observed tissues flows.

In particular, we can offer the subjects listed below. However, if you have a great idea that you would like to work on (in any level: undergrad, graduate or postdoc), please don't hesitate to contact Timo directly at timo.betz at

•    Master thesis: A new method to measure local stiffness in epithelial cells
More details are found in this document.