PD Dr. Dr. E. Ada Cavalcanti-Adam

Dept. Cellular Biophysics & Central Scientific Facility “Cellular Biotechnology”
Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research
69120 Heidelberg, Germany

Phone: +49 6221-486 433


Cell biology, cell adhesion and motility, cell-extracellular matrix interactions, mechanobiology, biophysics, biomaterials.


2014 Research Award, International BMP Conference
2013 Outstanding Paper Award, American Society Mechanical Engineering
2008 UNESCO-L’Oreal Prize “For Women in Science”
2008 Fellowship Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard Foundation
2003 Marie Curie Intraeuropean Fellowship FP-6 Mobility from European Commission
2003-2004 Frauenförderung Stipendium, faculty of Medicine, University of Heidelberg
2001 Kress Research Award


DFG, SFB/TRR79 “materials for tissue regeneration of systemically diseased bone”:

  • TP M6 “structuring and functionalization of surfaces for the control of bone cell adhesion and behavior”
  • TP B5 “Modification of cell-cell and cell-matrix communication in bone tissues through the use of novel materials”

Baden-Württemberg Stiftung (BWS) “Biofunctional Materials and surfaces”

  • “3D-multi-scale DNA surfaces for synthetic biology of cell-matrix interactions”
2017-present Group Leader, MPI Medical Research, Heidelberg
2016 Habilitation and Venia Legendi, Faculty of Chemistry, Heidelberg University
2013-present Head of Central Scientific Facility “Cell Biology”,  MPI for Intelligent Systems Stuttgart (since 2017 MPI for Medical Research, “Cellular Biotechnology” Heidelberg)
2011 -2016 Group Leader and Habilitand, MPI for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart
2008 Approbation (State license for Dentistry, Germany)
2006 – 2011 Project Leader, MPI for Intelligent Systems
2005 – 2006 PostDoc, MPI for Metals Research, Stuttgart
2005 PhD, Faculty of Biology, Heidelberg University
2002-2014 Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania (USA)
2001-2002 Research Fellow, Dept. Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania
2001 Msc, Master of Science Biology, University of Pennsylvania
2000 Specialty Certification in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics, University of Pennsylvania
1998-2000 Postgraduate Resident Fellow, Dept. Orthodontics, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
1995-1998 Clinical General Dentistry
1995 DMD, Doctor Medical Dentistry, University of Bari (Italy) and Certification Italian Board of Dentistry

2018                 Co-chair World Congress Biomechanics, session “molecular force transduction”, Dublin
2016 & 2019   Organiser Conference “Mechanotransduction: from molecules to tissues”, Quy Nhon
2011                  Co-chair Research Conference “Cellular nano-sciences” Heidelberg
2011                  Co-chair International Summer School “Cellular systems”, Heidelberg

(*corresponding author)
Ollech D, Pflaesterer T, Shellard A, Zambarda C, Spatz JP, Marcq P, Mayor R, Wombacher R, Cavalcanti-Adam EA*. 2020. LInDA: an optochemical tool for light induced dissociation of adherens junctions. Nat Commun. 11(1): 1-13 doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-14390-1

Wei Q, Holle A, Li J, Posa F, Biagioni F, Croci O, Benk AS, Young J, Deng J, Zhang M, Inman GJ, Spatz JP, Campaner S, Cavalcanti-Adam EA*. 2020. BMP-2 signaling and mechanotransduction synergize to drive osteogenic differentiation via YAP/TAZ. Adv Science, 1902931-1902936, doi: 10.1002/advs.201902931

Wiegand T, Fratini M, Frey F, Yserentant K, Liu Y, Weber E, Galior K, Ohmes J, Herten DP, Boulant S, Schwarz US, Salaita K, Cavalcanti-Ada, EA, Spatz JP. 2020. Forces during cellular uptake of viruses and nanoparticles at the ventral side. Nat Commun. doi:1038/s41467-019-13877

Oria R, Wiegand T, Escribano J, Elosegui-Artola A, Uriarte JJ, Moreno-Pulido C, Platzman I, Delcanale P, Albertazzi, L, Navajas D, Trepat X, Garcia-Aznar JM, Cavalcanti-Adam EA*, Roca-Cusachs P*. 2017. Molecular force loading explains cell sensing of extracellular ligand density and distribution. Nature. 552(7684): 219-224

Schaufler V, Czichos-Medda H, Hirschfeld-Warnecken V, Neubauer S, Rechenmacher F, Medda R, Kessler H, Geiger B, Spatz J, Cavalcanti-Adam EA*. 2016. Selective binding and lateral clustering of α5β and αvβ3 integrins: unraveling the spatial requirements for cell spreading and focal adhesion assembly. Cell Adhesion and Migration. March 22:1-11

Schwab EH, Pohl TLM, Haraszti T, Schwaerzer G, Hiepen C, Spatz JP, Knaus P, Cavalcanti-Adam EA*. 2015. Nanoscale control of surface immobilized BMP-2: toward a quantitative assessment of BMP-mediated signaling events. Nano Lett. 15(3):1526-1534

Liu Y, Medda R, Liu Z, Galior K, Yehl K, Spatz JP, Cavalcanti-Adam EA, Salaita K. 2014. Nanoparticle tension probes patterned at the nanoscale: impact of integrin clustering on force transmission. Nano Lett. 14(10): 5539-5546

Pohl TL, Boergermann JH, Schwaerzer GK, Knaus P, Cavalcanti-Adam EA*. 2012. Surface immobilization of bone morphogenetic protein 2 via a self-assembled monolayer formation induces cell differentiation. Acta Biomater. 8(2):772-780

Cavalcanti-Adam EA*, Volberg T, Micoulet A, Kessler H, Geiger B, Spatz JP. 2007. Cell spreading and focal adhesion dynamics are regulated by spacing of integrin ligands. Biophys J. 92(8): 2964-2974

Arnold M, Cavalcanti-Adam EA, Glass R, Blümmel J, Eck W, Kantlehner M, Kessler H, Spatz JP. 2004. Activation of integrin function by nanopatterned adhesive interfaces. Chemphyschem, 5(3):383-388

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