Dr. Delphine Gourdon


Video of the Researcher


Full name

Dr. Delphine Gourdon


Dr. Delphine Gourdon uses physics to kill cancerous tumors by changing their environment.

Type of researcher


Introduce yourself, your experience and your credentials

Hello my name is Delphine Gourdon. I’m a professor here in physics and I’m the head of the mechanobiology and tribology laboratory.

My expertise is in physics. I did my undergrad and my PhD in physics, in particular in nano-mechanics. But then I did a first postdoc in chemical engineering and a second postdoc in material science. So I consider myself as a biophysicist and a biomaterial scientist.

I would like to introduce Navina. Navina is a Master student working on tribology. Parisa is also a master’s student working on mechanobiology, in particular mechanical characterization of some networks. And Fanoune who is my new lab manager.

Describe your research

In our lab we use a two-fold approach. The first thing we do is that we use physics tools to characterize the physical properties of biological systems. When i mentioned here physical properties I mean the structure and the mechanics of those biological systems.

And then of course we want to understand how those properties affect the biology and the biological functions, for example the growth of cells.

The second approach then is once we have characterized these physical properties, we use them to design and engineer mimetics. What i mean by that is that we design platforms with completely controlled physical properties and biological properties to understand how these systems evolve. We also use those platforms to either do controlled research or to develop or to help us develop therapeutics.

We work on two different topics the first topic is called mechanobiology in breast cancer . In this project we actually study the environment of tumors. This environment is made of a matrix called the extracellular matrix which is a network of proteins.

We look at this network of proteins, its structure, its mechanics, and we try to correlate it with the way cancer cells react and in particular with the way tumors grow.

In the second project we are studying biolubrication. In particular we are trying to understand how the components of our synovial fluid interact with each other to ensure a ideal and very low lubrication in our joints, in particular our knee joints and protect the surfaces for getting damaged as it can happen in osteoarthritis.

Explain its significance

As physicists we first want to understand the mechanisms used by cells in particular by tumor cells to proliferate, which means that the tumor will grow.

The first aim is understanding the mechanisms underlying tumor growth and metastasis. The second relevance for that project is because we developed platform that mimics these physical properties of the tumor micro environment, we also want to use this platform to develop new therapeutics that instead of targeting cancer cells would then target the environment and prevent tumor from growing through the absence of oxygen supply to the actual tumor.

The significance of our biolubrication project is first that we determine the mechanisms behind the low lubrication of the synovial fluid. In particular, how the different components of the synovial fluid interact with each other to ensure not only super low friction but also surface protection.

This biolubrication project is also very important because we use our friction results to develop biomimetics with a colleague at Cornell University. We use the properties of a molecule called lubricine to develop lubricant mimetics that at the moment are being injected in dogs and are under clinical studies giving very promising results.


Institution name

University of Glasgow

Type of institution



Health care and social assistance