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Christoph Mark


Christoph Mark

  • Job title: Post-Doc
  • Working group: Biophysics Group
  • Address:
    Room 02.076
  • Phone number: +49 9131 85-25604
  • Email:

Trained physicist, likes probabilistic models and complex systems, from migrating cancer cells, tumors and the immune system to financial markets. Always searching for patterns in biological and financial data.

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Research projects

Immune cell trafficking and tumor infiltration

The fast migration of immune cells in 3D biopolymer networks such as collagen normally does not allow them to build mature focal adhesions to adhere to the ECM. However, when narrow pores constrict the migration path of the cell, immune cells are able to exert substantial traction forces onto the ECM to overcome steric hindrance. We investigate the regulation of these cell-generated traction forces and how immune cells strive in mechanically challenging environments using 3D traction force microscopy, 3D migration assays, and advanced statistical filtering.

Collective forces of tumor spheroids

Tumor spheroids are simplified tumor models that are grown in-vitro and usually consist of 1000-20000 individual cancer cells. When embedded in 3D collagen gels, the cells collectively pull on the surrounding matrix, resulting in substantial alignment and stiffening of the collagen fibers. The forces involved in this tissue remodeling process can be calculated by measuring the matrix deformations in the equatorial plane of the embedded spheroid and applying a non-linear material model. This method can easily be applied using normal brightfield microscopy, the protocols of the eLife publication, and the open-source software jointforces.

Modeling complex systems as heterogeneous stochastic processes

Many complex systems, from migrating cancer cells to financial markets, can be described by random walks. However, these random walks are not homogeneous, as the parameters of the random fluctuations (such as magnitude and autocorrelation) themselves fluctuate over longer time scales. These longterm fluctuations often indicate systematic changes in the behavior of the system, such as changes in cell behavior due to variations in the microenvironment, or changes of the market conditions due to rising inflation. I have developed a novel Bayesian filtering method that allows to extract both abrupt and gradual parameter changes from time series data that contains random fluctuations. The method has been used to understand cell migration in different environments (Nature Communications, 2015) dynamic regulation of forces during cell migration (Nature Methods, 2016), as well as the analysis of financial markets, climate data, and accident data (Nature Communications, 2018).

[13] C. Metzner, F. Hörsch, C. Mark, T. Czerwinski, A. Winterl, C. Voskens, B. Fabry
Detecting long-range interactions between migrating cells
In Scientific Reports, volume 11, 2021. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[12] Christoph Mark, Tina Czerwinski, Susanne Roessner, Astrid Mainka, Franziska Hörsch, Lucas Heublein, Alexander Winterl, Sebastian Sanokowski, Sebastian Richter, Nina Bauer, Thomas E. Angelini, Gerold Schuler, Ben Fabry, Caroline J. Voskens
Cryopreservation impairs 3-D migration and cytotoxicity of natural killer cells
In Nature Communications, volume 11, 2020. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[11] Ronny Reimann, Delf Kah, Christoph Mark, Jan Dettmer, Theresa M. Reimann, Richard C. Gerum, Anja Geitmann, Ben Fabry, Petra Dietrich, Benedikt Kost
Durotropic Growth of Pollen Tubes
In Plant Physiology, volume 183, 2020. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[10] Christoph Mark, Thomas J. Grundy, Pamela L. Strissel, David Böhringer, Nadine Grummel, Richard Gerum, Julian Steinwachs, Carolin C. Hack, Matthias W. Beckmann, Markus Eckstein, Reiner Strick, Geraldine M. O'Neill, Ben Fabry
Collective forces of tumor spheroids in three-dimensional biopolymer networks
In eLife, volume 9, 2020. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[9] M. Rausch, D. Bohringer, M. Steinmann, D. W. Schubert, S. Schrufer, C. Mark, B. Fabry
Measurement of Skeletal Muscle Fiber Contractility with High-Speed Traction Microscopy
In Biophys J, volume 118, 2020. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[8] Richard C. Gerum, Sebastian Richter, Alexander Winterl, Christoph Mark, Ben Fabry, Céline Le Bohec, Daniel P. Zitterbart
CameraTransform: A Python package for perspective corrections and image mapping
In SoftwareX, volume 10, 2019. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[7] M. Cóndor, C. Mark, R. C. Gerum, N. C. Grummel, A. Bauer, J. M. García-Aznar, B. Fabry
Breast cancer cells adapt contractile forces to overcome steric hindrance
In Biophysical Journal, 2019. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[6] C. Mark, C. Metzner, L. Lautscham, P. L. Strissel, R. Strick, B. Fabry
Bayesian model selection for complex dynamic systems
In Nat Commun, volume 9, 2018. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[5] M. Condor, J. Steinwachs, C. Mark, J. M. Garcia-Aznar, B. Fabry
Traction Force Microscopy in 3-Dimensional Extracellular Matrix Networks
In Curr Protoc Cell Biol, volume 75, 2017. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[4] J. Steinwachs, C. Metzner, K. Skodzek, N. Lang, I. Thievessen, C. Mark, S. Munster, K. E. Aifantis, B. Fabry
Three-dimensional force microscopy of cells in biopolymer networks
In Nat Methods, volume 13, 2016. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[3] L. A. Lautscham, C. Kammerer, J. R. Lange, T. Kolb, C. Mark, A. Schilling, P. L. Strissel, R. Strick, C. Gluth, A. C. Rowat, C. Metzner, B. Fabry
Migration in Confined 3D Environments Is Determined by a Combination of Adhesiveness, Nuclear Volume, Contractility, and Cell Stiffness
In Biophys J, volume 109, 2015. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[2] C. Metzner, C. Mark, J. Steinwachs, L. Lautscham, F. Stadler, B. Fabry
Superstatistical analysis and modelling of heterogeneous random walks
In Nat Comm, volume 6, 2015. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[1] C. Mark, C. Metzner, B. Fabry
Bayesian inference of time varying parameters in autoregressive processes
In arXiv:1405.1668, 2014. [bibtex] [pdf]

Immune cell migration and cytotoxicity in 3D biopolymer networks

DGZ Focus Workshop: Physics of the cell, online (2022)

Physical mechanisms of immune cell migration through connective tissue

8th International IZKF Symposium, Kloster Banz, Germany (2022)

Three-dimensional force microscopy of immune cells in biopolymer networks

13th Annual Symposium “Physics of Cancer”, Leipzig, Germany (2022)