P3: Does cGMP signaling in VSMCs and platelets affect their biomechanical properties and arterial stiffness?


To determine the role of cGMP signaling for biomechanical remodeling of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and platelets and its effect on aortic wall stiffening.

Questions and Methods

cGMP and Vascular Biomechanics

Boston Internship

Seta Lab

In the Seta lab in Boston, the doctoral researchers will be trained in vascular biology. Specifically, they will learn about

  1. arterial stiffness,
  2. pulse wave velocity, and
  3. molecular biology of VSMCs.

Our conceptual hypothesis that cGMP signaling regulates biomechanics at a cellular level should give important insights into the various models of diseases within the consortium.

Boston Co-mentor

Assist. Prof. Francesca Seta, PhD

Link to boston researcher lab

Doctoral Students

Johanna Gabriela Rodriguez Cabezas

Johanna Rodríguez earned her BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology & Physiology at the University of Manchester (United Kingdom). During her bachelor thesis, she focused on the study of selective inhibitors of Tyrosine Phosphatases through docking and protein structural analysis. After her bachelor, she did an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in Nanomedicine for Drug Delivery with a specialization in “Production and Biotechnology applications of Nanomedicine”. She completed her first year of MSc at University Paris Descartes (France) and her second year at the University of Pavia (Italy). In her master’s thesis she studied the “Design, development, and characterisation in-vitro of theranostic nanobubbles for the treatment of pancreatic cancer” in the laboratory of Pharmaceutical Technology at the University of Turin (Italy). Recently, Johanna has joined the laboratory of Tilman Schäffer to do her doctoral studies. Here, her research focuses on cGMP signalling pathway, cardiovascular diseases, vascular biomechanics, and knockout mice in-vivo models.

Aylin Balmes

Aylin Balmes earned her BSc in Nano-Science at the University of Tübingen. During her bachelor thesis she studied the migration of blood platelets with phase contrast microscopy. After her bachelor she did the corresponding MSc in Nano-Science also at the University of Tübingen. With her elective courses she focused mostly on physics, especially biophysics. In her master thesis she studied the viscoelastic properties of cells with scanning ion conductance microscopy. On the side she is also pursuing a BSc in Physics. Aylin is now pursuing a PhD in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Tilman Schäffer where she investigates the role of cGMP from a physics point of view.

Hendrik von Eysmondt (associated PhD student)

Hendrik von Eysmondt developed an interest in biophysics early in his B.Sc. of Biology at the RWTH Aachen, Germany, leading to a Bachelor thesis about the unidirectional growth of neuronal axons with microfluidics at the Institute of Biological Information Processing - Bioelectronics (IBI-3) at the Forschungszentrum Jülich.
He continued his studies in Aachen, obtaining his M.Sc. in Biology with a Master thesis in the adaptation of the sFIDA assay for an amyloidogenic protein in type 2 diabetes in his work at the Institute of Complex Systems 6 (ICS-6) at the Forschungszentrum Jülich. 
Recently, he has joined the lab of Prof. Dr. Tilman Schäffer at the University of Tübingen to obtain his PhD, focusing on the mechanical properties of blood platelets, especially in the context of lipid interactions.

Key Publications

Chatterjee M, Rath D, Schlotterbeck J, Rheinlaender J, Walker-Allgaier B, Alnaggar N, Zdanyte M, Müller I, Borst O, Geisler T, Schäffer TE, Lämmerhofer M, Gawaz M. Regulation of oxidized platelet lipidome: implications for coronary artery disease. Eur Heart J. 2017;38:1993-2005

Metzger K, Vogel S, Chatterjee M, Borst O, Seizer P, Schönberger T, Geisler T, Lang F, Langer H, Rheinlaender J, Schäffer TE, Gawaz M. High-frequency ultrasound-guided disruption of glycoprotein VI-targeted microbubbles targets atheroprogressison in mice. Biomaterials. 2015;36:80-9