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A headshot  photo of Nargess Khalilgharibi

My research focuses on developing an open-source multi-scale computational platform to investigate the mechanical role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in tissue development and disease.


The ECM is a complex dynamic meshwork of proteins that surrounds most tissues and provides a platform for mechanical and biochemical cues. Dysregulation of ECM components can lead to developmental defects and pathological conditions in infants and adults. While biochemical signalling downstream of the ECM has been extensively studied, little is known about the mechanical role of the ECM in shaping tissues. Animal models are widely used in the field to understand the role of ECM in development and disease. Recently, the use of organoids as model systems is increasing, however, most of the current organoid culture techniques rely on the use of animal-derived ECM, affecting experimental reproducibility and hindering their translational potential. Therefore scientists are working to replace animal-derived ECM with synthetic ones. My aim is to develop and use the computational platform to model growth of tissues with different structures, as well as organoid growth in synthetic ECM with different mechanical properties. This will allow researchers to tailor-design synthetic ECM for growth of different organoids, therefore reducing the use of animals and animal-derived products in research.

Research themes


Tissue development


Light microscopy

Computational modelling

Mechanical testing


2020       NC3Rs Fellowship

2017       PhD Biophysics, University College London, UK

2012       MRes Modelling Biological Complexity, University College London, UK

2011       BSc Physics, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran


2020       NC3Rs Training Fellow

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