About Dr David Martinez Martin

Cell growth is a fundamental process for all living organisms, yet it is poorly understood – partly due to our inability to detect changes in mass at cellular level. Dr David Martinez-Martin’s research aims to develop technologies that can measure and monitor cell growth in real time, enhancing our understanding of cell development and ultimately enabling us to more efficiently diagnose, monitor and treat conditions such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and ageing. “Dysregulation of cell mass is a critical underlying force in the development and progression of many diseases, so understanding how cells regulate their mass has enormous potential to transform the way we diagnose, monitor and treat disease. “My research group works at the interphase of engineering, biology and physics and focuses on identifying the principles governing how cells regulate their own mass and growth. To do this we’ve developed a technology that allows us to track the mass of single or multiple cells in real time. Known as Picobalance or Cytomass, it is fully compatible with state-of-the-art optical microscopies such us differential interference contrast and fluorescent microscopy, enabling correlation of cellular mass, state and morphology.

Trained in multiple countries, Dr David Martinez Martin is a leading expert in biomedical engineering, physics and nanotechnology. He has importantly contributed to the advancement of technologies such as Atomic Force Microscopy, Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy, Magnetic Force Microscopy, etc. in multiple environments from vacuum conditions to liquids. He is also the principal inventor of multiple patent families that are internationally licensed. In the field of material science he has discovered the origin of the apparent high hydrophobicity of graphite, a very important material that contains multiple layers of the famous one-atom-thick material called graphene. One of his main current research interests is to understand how cells regulate their own mass and growth, which is essential for all living organisms. Considering that dysregulation of cell mass is linked to many disorders including cancer, ageing, obesity, diabetes, etc, his research has an enormous potential to improve the way we diagnose and treat diseases. To be able to investigate the regulation of cell mass he has recently developed a technology known as inertial picobalance or cytomass monitor that allows tracking the mass of single or multiple live cells in real-time in non-invasive conditions.

Dr David Martinez-Martin holds a PhD in condensed matter physics from the Autonomous University of Madrid (Summa Cum Laude), where he also lectured in mathematics; and a combined Bachelor and Master of Physics from the University of Valladolid, where he achieved the highest grade of extraordinary prize of degree for an outstanding sustained academic record over the five-year degree. He was awarded Spain’s most competitive FPU program fellowship to undertake his doctorate, as part of which he developed new techniques based on scanning probe microscopies, for example for simultaneous characterisation of electric and magnetic interactions at nanoscale, and for non-invasively acquiring both flexibility and topography maps of single molecules at high speed. These techniques also enabled him to discover that the high hydrophobicity of graphite is not an intrinsic property of the material but related to airborne contamination. Dr Martinez-Martin’s PhD research was distinguished with the prestigious national research award in experimental and technological sciences from the Spanish Royal Academy of Doctors. In 2012 he was also awarded a long-term fellowship of the European Molecular Biology Organization, and moved to ETH Zürich where he remained until he join the University of Sydney in 2019. Dr Martinez-Martin is principal inventor of multiple significant internationally licensed patent families, and has been honoured with the Spanish Professional Association of Physicists’ Excellence Award (2016), the Alberto Elzaburu Foundation’s Innovation Award (2018), and the University of Sydney’s Research Accelerator (SOAR) prize (2020), among other honours

Selected publications

• Schubert R, Trenholm S, Balint K, Kosche G, Cowan C, Mohr MA, Munz M, Martinez-Martin D, Flaeschner G, Newton R, Krol J, Gross Scherf B, Yonehara K, Wertz A, Ponti A, Ghanem A, Hillier D, Conzelmann K-K, Müller DJ and Roska B. Virus stamping for targeted single cell infection in vitro and in vivo. Nature Biotechnology (2018) 36: 81-88 
• Martinez-Martin D*, Fläschner G, Gaub B, Martin S, Newton R, Beerli C, Mercer J, Gerber C and Müller DJ*. Inertial picobalance reveals fast mass fluctuations of mammalian cells. Nature (2017) 550: 500-505 
 • Dufrêne YF, Ando T, Garcia R, Alsteens D, Martinez-Martin D, Engel A, Gerber C and Müller DJ. Atomic Force Microscopy Imaging Modalities in Molecular and Cell Biology. Nature Nanotechnology (2017) 12: 295-307  
• Alsteens D, Newton R, Schubert R, Martinez-Martin D, Delguste M, Roska B and Müller DJ. Nanomechanical mapping of first binding steps of a virus to animal cells. Nature Nanotechnology (2017) 12: 177-183 
• Cattin CJ, Düggelin M, Martinez-Martin D, Gerber C, Müller DJ and Stewart MP. Mechanical control of mitotic progression in single animal cells. PNAS (2015) 112: 11258-11263  
• Pfreundschuh M, Martinez-Martin D, Mulvihill E, Wegmann S and Muller DJ.
Multiparametric high-resolution imaging of native proteins by force-distance curve–based AFM.
Nature Protocols (2014) 9: 1113-1130  
• Martinez-Martin D, Longuinhos R, Izquierdo JG, Marele A, Alexandre SS, Jaafar M, Gómez-Rodríguez JM, Bañares L, Soler JM and Gomez-Herrero J.
Atmospheric contaminants on graphitic surfaces. Carbon (2013) 61: 33-39 
• Dufrene YF, Martinez-Martin D, Medalsy I, Alsteens D and Muller DJ.
Multi-parametric imaging of biological systems by force-distance curve-based AFM.
Nature Methods (2013) 10: 847-854 
• Martinez-Martin D, Carrasco C, Hernando-Pérez M, de Pablo PJ, Gómez-Herrero J, Pérez R, Mateu MG, Carrascosa JL, Kiracofe D, Melcher J and Raman A.
Resolving structure and mechanical properties at the nanoscale of viruses with frequency modulation atomic force microscopy.
PLoS ONE (2012) 7: e30204 
• Martinez-Martin D, Herruzo ET, Dietz C, Gómez-Herrero J and García R.
Noninvasive protein structural flexibility mapping by bimodal dynamic force microscopy.
Physical Review Letters (2011) 106: 198101