Dr Annica K B Gad, PhD

Department of Oncology & MetabolismAnnica
The Medical School
Beech Hill Road
S10 2RX

Email:  a.k.gad@sheffield.ac.uk

Tel: +44 0114 215 9681


Annica K.B. Gad obtained her PhD in 2005 at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, with Staffan Strömblad as her Supervisor, for which she studied “Cell Cycle Control by Components of Cell Anchorage”. Her Postdoctoral work started with Mario Gimona at the Consorzio Mario Negri Sud Research Institute, Italy, and was focussed on the cytoskeletal crosslinking that underlies podosome formation. She then joined Pontus Aspenström at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Uppsala, Sweden, and also back at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, where she worked on the biology of the Rho GTPases. In 2012, Dr Gad obtained a position as a Senior Researcher at the Karolinska Institute for her studies of the molecular mechanisms that control the mechanical properties of single cells, particularly in relation to cancer. Then in 2017, Dr Gad was recruited to the University of Madeira in Portugal, where she continued to study the mechanical properties of cells as a Senior Researcher. In 2019, she moved to a Lecturer position at the University of Sheffield, in the United Kingdom.

Research Interests

Dr Gad’s research is aimed at the identification of the molecular mechanisms that govern cancer cell metastasis and the cancer-promoting ability of cancer-associated fibroblasts. Her approach is via the control of the mechanical properties of cells, with the further aim being the development of drugs against cancer metastasis. As such drugs will be based only on cell mechanics, they will represent a previously unknown, mechano-based, class of drugs. Her research is thus focussed on how regulators of the cytoskeleton control cellular contractile forces and cellular stiffness, through approaches that include bioengineering, biochemistry and advanced microscopy, such as super-resolution florescence microscopy, collodial probe atomic force microscopy, and traction force microscopy. Studies of the mechanical properties of cells require advanced equipment and expertise from different research fields, and therefore, by its very nature, her research is highly interdisciplinary. As tumour cell invasion and metastasis is the number one cause of cancer deaths, the identification of a previously unknown, mechano-based, class of target proteins for the development of drugs that block cell invasion has great promise to provide significantly improved prevention of human deaths due to cancers.

Professional activities

1. ASPIC - The Portuguese Association for Cancer Research
2. EACR - European Association for Cancer Research. EACR Ambassador since 2018.
3. COST action CA 15214, an Integrative Action for Multidisciplinary Studies on Cellular Structural Networks, Working Group number 4: “Mechanobiological principles of rare and common diseases”

Current projects

The Molecular Control of the Mechanical Properties of Human Cells and Cancer.

Key publications

1. Xu L., Braun L.B., Widengren J., Aspenström P., Gad A.K.B. (2018). Nanoscale localization of proteins within focal adhesions indicates discrete functional assemblies with selective force-dependence. The FEBS Journal.

2. Alkasalias T., Alexeyenko T., Henning K., Danielsson F., Lebbink R.J, Fielden M., Turunen S., Lehti K., Kashuba V., Madapura H.S., Bozoky B., Lundberg E., Balland M., Guvén H., Klein G., Pavlova T., Gad A.K.B. (2017). RhoA knockout fibroblasts lose tumor-inhibitory capacity in vitro and promote tumor growth in vivo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

3. Terriac E., Coceano G., Mavajilan Z., Hageman T., Testa I., Lautenschläger F., Gad A.K.B., (2017) Vimentin levels and serine 71 phosphorylation in the control of cell-matrix adhesions, migration speed, and shape of transformed human fibroblasts. Cells.

4. Rathje L.S., Nordgren N., Pettersson T., Rönnlund D., Widengren J., Aspenström P., Gad A.K.B. (2014). Oncogenes induce a vimentin filament collapse mediated by HDAC6 that is linked to cell stiffness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

5. Gad A.K.B., Rönnlund D., Widengren J., Aspenström P.. (2013) Analysis of Rho-GTPase-induced localisation of nanoscale adhesions using fluorescence nanoscopy. Methods in Molecular Biology.

6. Gad A.K.B, Rönnlund D., Xu L., Blom H., Aspenström P., Widengren J. (2013). Spatial organization of proteins in metastasizing cells. Cytometry A.

7. Danielsson F., Skogs M., Huss M., Rexhepaj E., O'Hurley G., Klevebring D., Pontén F., Gad A.K.B., Uhlén M., Lundberg E. (2013) Majority of the differentially expressed genes is down-regulated during malignant transformation in a four stage model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

8. Gad A.K.B., Rönnlund D., Spaar A., Savchenko A.A., Petranyi G., Blom H., Szekely L., Widengren J., Aspenström P. (2012) Rho GTPases link cellular contractile force to the density and distribution of nanoscale adhesions. The FASEB Journal.

9. Gad A.K.B., Thullberg M., Le Guyader S., Stromblad S.. (2007) Oncogenic H-Ras V12 promotes anchorage-independent cytokinesis in human fibroblasts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

10. Gad, A.K.B., Thullberg M., Dannenberg J.H., te Riele H., Strömblad S. (2004) Retinoblastoma susceptibility gene product (pRb) and p107 functionally separate the requirements for serum and anchorage in the cell cycle G1-phase. Journal of Biological Chemistry.