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Institute of Bioengineering

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Dr Stephen Thorpe

Research Co-Investigator

Department School of Engineering and Materials Science
 Queen Mary University of London

Research Interests

I am interested in the understanding of how mechanical stimuli impact cell function. In this regard, I have a particular interest in the role of the nucleus as a sensor of mechanical stimuli, and modulator of mechano-responsive signalling in stem cells. I implement a range of biological and engineering techniques to probe cellular processes in response to mechanical perturbation.

In addition to enhancing our basic understanding of stem cell mechanobiology, I apply many of these techniques toward improving cartilage tissue engineering and regenerative medicine strategies, and improving our understanding of cancer stem cell function.


Cortes E, Sarper M, Robinson B, Lachowski D, Chronopoulos A, Thorpe SD, Lee DA and Del Río Hernández AE (2019). GPER is a mechanoregulator of pancreatic stellate cells and the tumor microenvironment. Embo Rep  vol. 20, (1) 10.15252/embr.201846556

Cortes E, Lachowski D, Robinson B, Sarper M, Teppo JS, Thorpe SD, Lieberthal TJ, Iwamoto K, Lee DA, Okada-Hatakeyama M, Varjosalo MT and Del Río Hernández AE (2019). Tamoxifen mechanically reprograms the tumor microenvironment via HIF-1A and reduces cancer cell survival. Embo Rep  vol. 20, (1) 10.15252/embr.201846557


Cortes E, Lachowski D, Rice A, THORPE SD, Robinson B, Yeldag G, LEE DA, Ghemtio L, Rombouts K and del Río Hernández AE (2018). Tamoxifen mechanically deactivates hepatic stellate cells via the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor. Springer Nature [Academic Journals On Nature.Com]  Oncogene  10.1038/s41388-018-0631-3

THORPE SD, Cortes E, Lachowski D, Rice A, Chronopoulos A, Robinson B, LEE DA, Possamai LA, Wang H, Pinato DJ and del Rio Hernández AE (2018). RAR-? is downregulated in HCC & cirrhosis and its expression inhibits myosin-driven activation and durotaxis in hepatic stellate cells. Wiley  Hepatology  10.1002/hep.30193


Gambassi S, Geminiani M, Thorpe SD, Bernardini G, Millucci L, Braconi D, Orlandini M, Thompson CL, Petricci E, Manetti F, Taddei M, Knight MM and Santucci A (2017). Smoothened-antagonists reverse homogentisic acid-induced alterations of Hedgehog signaling and primary cilium length in alkaptonuria. J Cell Physiol  vol. 232, (11) 3103-3111. 10.1002/jcp.25761

THORPE SD and Lee DA (2017). Dynamic regulation of nuclear architecture and mechanics?a rheostatic role for the nucleus in tailoring cellular mechanosensitivity. Taylor & Francis  Nucleus  vol. 8, (3) 287-300. 10.1080/19491034.2017.1285988

THORPE SD, Gambassi S, Thompson CL, Chandrakumar C, Santucci A and Knight MM (2017). Reduced Primary Cilia Length and Altered Arl13b Expression Are Associated with Deregulated Chondrocyte Hedgehog Signalling in Alkaptonuria. John Wiley & Sons Inc.  Journal of Cellular Physiology  10.1002/jcp.25839


Heo S-J, Driscoll TP, Thorpe SD, Nerurkar NL, Baker BM, Yang MT, Chen CS, Lee DA and Mauck RL (2016). Differentiation alters stem cell nuclear architecture, mechanics, and mechano-sensitivity. Elife Sciences Publications Ltd  Elife  vol. 5, 10.7554/eLife.18207

Mozdzen L, Thorpe S, SCREEN HRC and Harley B (2016). The effect of gradations in mineral content, matrix alignment, and applied strain on human mesenchymal stem cell morphology within collagen biomaterials. Wiley: 12 Months  Advanced Healthcare Materials  10.1002/adhm.201600181

Sliogeryte K, Thorpe SD, Wang Z, Thompson CL, Gavara N and Knight MM (2016). Differential effects of LifeAct-GFP and actin-GFP on cell mechanics assessed using micropipette aspiration. Journal of Biomechanics  vol. 49, (2) 310-317. 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2015.12.034


Heo S-J, Thorpe SD, Driscoll TP, Duncan RL, Lee DA and Mauck RL (2015). Biophysical Regulation of Chromatin Architecture Instills a Mechanical Memory in Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Sci Rep  vol. 5, 10.1038/srep16895

Dalbay MT, Thorpe SD, Connelly JT, Chapple JP and Knight MM (2015). Adipogenic Differentiation of hMSCs is Mediated by Recruitment of IGF-1r Onto the Primary Cilium Associated With Cilia Elongation. Stem Cells  vol. 33, (6) 1952-1961. 10.1002/stem.1975


Sliogeryte K, Thorpe SD, Lee DA, Botto L and Knight MM (2014). Stem cell differentiation increases membrane-actin adhesion regulating cell blebability, migration and mechanics. Sci Rep  vol. 4, 10.1038/srep07307


Pattappa G, Thorpe SD, Jegard NC, Heywood HK, de Bruijn JD and Lee DA (2013). Continuous and Uninterrupted Oxygen Tension Influences the Colony Formation and Oxidative Metabolism of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods  vol. 19, (1) 68-79. 10.1089/ten.tec.2011.0734


Haugh MG, Thorpe SD, Vinardell T, Buckley CT and Kelly DJ (2012). The application of plastic compression to modulate fibrin hydrogel mechanical properties. Journal of The Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials  vol. 16, 66-72. 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2012.10.009

Thorpe SD, Buckley CT, Steward AJ and Kelly DJ (2012). European Society of Biomechanics S.M. Perren Award 2012: The external mechanical environment can override the influence of local substrate in determining stem cell fate. Journal of Biomechanics  vol. 45, (15) 2483-2492. 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.07.024

Steward AJ, Thorpe SD, Vinardell T, Buckley CT, Wagner DR and Kelly DJ (2012). Cell?matrix interactions regulate mesenchymal stem cell response to hydrostatic pressure. Acta Biomaterialia  vol. 8, (6) 2153-2159. 10.1016/j.actbio.2012.03.016


Haugh MG, Meyer EG, Thorpe SD, Vinardell T, Duffy GP and Kelly DJ (2011). Temporal and Spatial Changes in Cartilage-Matrix-Specific Gene Expression in Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Response to Dynamic Compression. Tissue Engineering Part A  vol. 17, (23-24) 3085-3093. 10.1089/ten.tea.2011.0198

THORPE SD, Buckley CT and Kelly DJ (2011). Can Dynamic Compression in the Absence of Growth Factors Induce Chondrogenic Differentiation of Bone Marrow Derived MSCs Encapsulated in Agarose Hydrogels?, Editors: El Haj E and Bader D. Springer Berlin Heidelberg  10.1007/978-3-642-19044-5_12


Meyer EG, Buckley CT, Thorpe SD and Kelly DJ (2010). Low oxygen tension is a more potent promoter of chondrogenic differentiation than dynamic compression. Journal of Biomechanics  vol. 43, (13) 2516-2523. 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.05.020

Buckley CT, Vinardell T, Thorpe SD, Haugh MG, Jones E, McGonagle D and Kelly DJ (2010). Functional properties of cartilaginous tissues engineered from infrapatellar fat pad-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Journal of Biomechanics  vol. 43, (5) 920-926. 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2009.11.005


Buckley CT, Thorpe SD and Kelly DJ (2009). Engineering of Large Cartilaginous Tissues Through the Use of Microchanneled Hydrogels and Rotational Culture. Tissue Engineering Part A  vol. 15, (11) 3213-3220. 10.1089/ten.tea.2008.0531

Buckley CT, Thorpe SD, O¿Brien FJ, Robinson AJ and Kelly DJ (2009). The effect of concentration, thermal history and cell seeding density on the initial mechanical properties of agarose hydrogels. Journal of The Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials  vol. 2, (5) 512-521. 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2008.12.007


Thorpe SD, Buckley CT, Vinardell T, O¿Brien FJ, Campbell VA and Kelly DJ (2008). Dynamic compression can inhibit chondrogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications  vol. 377, (2) 458-462. 10.1016/j.bbrc.2008.09.154

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