Dr Kristian Franze

Kristian Franze

University position


Dr Kristian Franze is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience



Home page

http://www.pdn.cam.ac.uk/staff/f... (personal home page)

Research Themes

Developmental Neuroscience

Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


We are taking an interdisciplinary approach to investigate how cellular forces, local cell and tissue compliance and cellular mechanosensitivity contribute to CNS development and disease. Methods we are exploiting include atomic force microscopy, traction force microscopy, custom-built simple and complex compliant cell culture substrates, optical microscopy including confocal laser scanning microscopy and cell biological techniques. We have shown, for example, that nervous tissue is mechanically inhomogeneous. Furthermore, we found that neurons constantly exert forces on their environment and that both neurons and glial cells respond to mechanical stimuli. Understanding how and when CNS cells actively exert forces and respond to their mechanical environment will shed new light on CNS development, and it could eventually lead to novel biomedical approaches to treat or circumvent pathologies that involve mechanical signalling, such as spinal cord injuries.

Muller cells act as living light guides in the vertebrate retina
Muller cells act as living light guides in the vertebrate retina
Click image to view full-size

Research Focus







Clinical conditions

Foreign body reactions

Injured peripheral nerves

Spinal cord injury

Traumatic brain injury


Atomic force microscopy

Calcium imaging

Cell culture

Compliant cell culture substrates

Confocal microscopy

Fluorescence microscopy


Open laser systems

Traction force microscopy



Kevin Chalut

James Fawcett

Roger Hardie

Bill Harris

Christine Holt

United Kingdom

Christoph Ballestrem

Nic Tapon


Luciano da F. Costa

Jochen Guck

Paul Janmey

Andreas Reichenbach

Associated News Items

Key publications

Moshayedi P, Ng G, Kwok JC, Yeo GS, Bryant CE, Fawcett JW, Franze K, Guck J (2014), “The relationship between glial cell mechanosensitivity and foreign body reactions in the central nervous system.” Biomaterials 35(13):3919-25 Details

Moshayedi P, Ng G, Kwok JC, Yeo GSH, Bryant C, Fawcett J, Franze K*, Guck J (in press), “The relationship between glial cell mechanosensitivity and foreign body reactions in the central nervous system” Biomaterials accepted

Pagliara S, Franze K, McClain CR, Wylde GW, Fisher CL, Franklin RJ, Kabla AJ, Keyser UF, Chalut KJ (2014), “Auxetic nuclei in embryonic stem cells exiting pluripotency.” Nat Mater 13(6):638-44 Details

Franze K (2013), “The mechanical control of nervous system development.” Development 140(15):3069-77 Details

Hardie RC, Franze K (2012), “Photomechanical responses in Drosophila photoreceptors.” Science 338(6104):260-3 Details

Kuo CH, Xian J, Brenton JD, Franze K, Sivaniah E (2012), “Complex stiffness gradient substrates for studying mechanotactic cell migration.” Adv Mater 24(45):6059-64 Details

Betz T, Koch D, Lu YB, Franze K, Käs JA (2011), “Growth cones as soft and weak force generators.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108(33):13420-5 Details

Franze K, Francke M, Guenter K, Christ AF, Koerber N, Reichenbach A and Guck J (2011), “Spatial mapping of the mechanical properties of the living retina using scanning force microscopy” Soft Matter 7(7):3147-3154

Moshayedi P, Costa Lda F, Christ A, Lacour SP, Fawcett J, Guck J, Franze K (2010), “Mechanosensitivity of astrocytes on optimized polyacrylamide gels analyzed by quantitative morphometry.” J Phys Condens Matter 22(19):194114 Details

Franze K, Gerdelmann J, Weick M, Betz T, Pawlizak S, Lakadamyali M, Bayer J, Rillich K, Gögler M, Lu YB, Reichenbach A, Janmey P, Käs J (2009), “Neurite branch retraction is caused by a threshold-dependent mechanical impact.” Biophys J 97(7):1883-90 Details

Franze K, Grosche J, Skatchkov SN, Schinkinger S, Foja C, Schild D, Uckermann O, Travis K, Reichenbach A, Guck J (2007), “Muller cells are living optical fibers in the vertebrate retina.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104(20):8287-92 Details

Lu YB, Franze K, Seifert G, Steinhäuser C, Kirchhoff F, Wolburg H, Guck J, Janmey P, Wei EQ, Käs J, Reichenbach A (2006), “Viscoelastic properties of individual glial cells and neurons in the CNS.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103(47):17759-64 Details



Franze K, Janmey PA, Guck J (2013), “Mechanics in neuronal development and repair.” Annu Rev Biomed Eng 15:227-51 Details


Kreysing M, Pusch R, Haverkate D, Landsberger M, Engelmann J, Ruiter J, Mora-Ferrer C, Ulbricht E, Grosche J, Franze K, Streif S, Schumacher S, Makarov F, Kacza J, Guck J, Wolburg H, Bowmaker JK, von der Emde G, Schuster S, Wagner HJ, Reichenbach A, Francke M (2012), “Photonic crystal light collectors in fish retina improve vision in turbid water.” Science 336(6089):1700-3 Details

Verho T, Korhonen JT, Sainiemi L, Jokinen V, Bower C, Franze K, Franssila S, Andrew P, Ikkala O, Ras RH (2012), “Reversible switching between superhydrophobic states on a hierarchically structured surface.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109(26):10210-3 Details


Franze K (2011), “Atomic force microscopy and its contribution to understanding the development of the nervous system.” Curr Opin Genet Dev 21(5):530-7 Details


Christ AF, Franze K, Gautier H, Moshayedi P, Fawcett J, Franklin RJ, Karadottir RT, Guck J (2010), “Mechanical difference between white and gray matter in the rat cerebellum measured by scanning force microscopy.” J Biomech 43(15):2986-92 Details

Franze K and Guck J (2010), “The biophysics of neuronal growth” Reports on Progress in Physics 73(9):094601(19pp)

Lindqvist N, Liu Q, Zajadacz J, Franze K, Reichenbach A (2010), “Retinal glial (Müller ) cells: sensing and responding to tissue stretch.” Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 51(3):1683-90 Details

Poetes R, Holtzmann K, Franze K, Steiner U (2010), “Metastable underwater superhydrophobicity.” Phys Rev Lett 105(16):166104 Details


Ehrlicher A, Betz T, Stuhrmann B, Gögler M, Koch D, Franze K, Lu Y, Käs J (2007), “Optical neuronal guidance.” Methods Cell Biol 83:495-520 Details


Biedermann B, Bringmann A, Franze K, Faude F, Wiedemann P, Reichenbach A (2004), “GABA(A) receptors in Müller glial cells of the human retina.” Glia 46(3):302-10 Details

Uckermann O, Iandiev I, Francke M, Franze K, Grosche J, Wolf S, Kohen L, Wiedemann P, Reichenbach A, Bringmann A (2004), “Selective staining by vital dyes of Müller glial cells in retinal wholemounts.” Glia 45(1):59-66 Details