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

Koser DE, Moeendarbary E, Hanne J, Kuerten S, Franze K (2015), “CNS cell distribution and axon orientation determine local spinal cord mechanical properties.” Biophys J 108(9):2137-47 Details

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

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

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