Karen Martinez – University of Copenhagen

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Center for Synthetic Biology > Meet the Researchers > Karen Martinez

Karen Martinez

Associate Professor

Nano-Science Center & Department of Chemistry
Faculty of Science

Find Karen's homepage here.


Karen Martinez's group explores innovative interfaces of newly developed nano-tools with biological samples for the development of novel biosensors to be used for pharmacological investigation and diagnostics. Such new methods are developed in the perspective of personalized medicine, providing well-suited therapies (better efficiency and limited side effects).

Our group puts emphasis on the exploitation of sensitive membrane proteins (G protein coupled receptors) because of their crucial roles in numerous pathologies and the potential they represent for future therapies. The technology has potential as a diagnostics and investigation tool in the context of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Figure: Mammalian cells interfaced on arrays of nanowires. These biochips will be used for studies in living cells suitable for the identification of novel drugs.

Two complementary research axes are followed in the group:

  • We exploit novel nanotechnologies and biophysical techniques for the investigation of GPCR. We combine approaches on isolated  proteins and in living cells for the fundamental investigation of the protein-protein interactions governing cell signaling.
  • We exploit novel nanomaterials for the development of several types of biosensors: (1) in cell biosensors suitable for the fundamental investigation of membrane protein signalling and the establishment of novel generation of cellular assays for drug discovery;
    (2) arrays of nanowires or nanoelectrodes for diagnostics based on the detection of minute amount of molecules.

More information about Karen's research can be found here.


2012-present Associate Professor, Nano-Science Center & Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen
2008-2011 Associate Professor, Nano-Science Center & Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen
2005-2008 Assistant Professor, Nano-Science Center & Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen

Post Doc, Laboratoire de chimie physique des polymères et membranes, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

1996-2000 Interdisciplinary PhD thesis at the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology (Prof. J.- P. Changeux, Institut Pasteur, Paris) and Synchrotron radiation source LURE (Dr. F. Mérola, University Paris XI, Orsay), France

Collaborations within the Center for Synthetic Biology
Lise Arleth
Ulrik Gether
Thomas Günther-Pomorski
Jan H. Jensen
Knud J. Jensen
Birger Lindberg Møller
Kenneth Madsen
Morten Meldal
Jesper Nygaard
Søren Rasmussen
Dimitrios Stamou
Tom Vosch

Selected Scientific Publications
Frederiksen, R., Alarcon-Llado, E., Madsen, M.H., Rostgaard, K.R., Krogstrup,  P., Vosch, T., Nygård, J., Fontcuberta i Morral A., Martinez, K.L. Modulation of fluorescence signals from biomolecules along nanowires due to interaction of light with oriented nanostructures. Nanoletters in press, doi:10.1021/nl503344y (2015).

Buch-Månson, N., Bonde, S., Bolinsson, J., Berthing, T., Nygård, J. and Martinez, K.L. Towards a Better Prediction of Cell Settling on Nanostructure Arrays—Simple Means to Complicated Ends Advanced Functional Material in press doi: 10.1002/adfm.201500399 (2015)

Della Pia, E. & Martinez, K.L. Single Domain Antibodies as a Powerful Tool for High Quality Surface Plasmon Resonance Studies PlosOne 10(3), e0124303 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124303 (2015)

Vutti, S., Buch-Månson, N., Schoffelen, S., Bovet, N., Martinez, K.L. & Meldal, M. Covalent and stable CuAAC-modification of silicon surfaces for control of cell adhesion Chembiochem 16 (5), 782-791, doi: 10.1002/cbic.201402629 (2015)

Bonde, S., Buch-Manson, N., Rostgaard, K.R., Andersen, T.K., Berthing, T., and Martinez, K.L. Exploring arrays of vertical one-dimensional nanostructures for cellular investigations. Nanotechnology 25, 362001-362001, doi:10.1088/0957-4484/25/36/362001 (2014).

Della Pia, E. A., Hansen, R. W., Zoonens, M. & Martinez, K. L. Functionalized Amphipols: A Versatile Toolbox Suitable for Applications of Membrane Proteins in Synthetic Biology. Journal of Membrane Biol. 247 (9-10), 815-826, doi:10.1007/s00232-014-9663-y (2014).

Le Bon, C. Della Pia, E.A., Giusti, F., Lloret, N., Zoonens, M., Martinez, K.L., and Popot, J.L. Synthesis of an oligonucleotide-derivatized amphipol and its use to trap and immobilize membrane proteins. Nucleic Acids Research 42, e83, doi:10.1093/nar/gku250 (2014).

Della Pia, E. A., Holm, J.V., Lloret, N., Le Bon, C., Popot, J.-L., Zoonens, M., Nygard, J., and Martinez, K.L. A Step Closer to Membrane Protein Multiplexed Nanoarrays Using Biotin-Doped Polypyrrole. Acs Nano 8, 1844-1853, doi:10.1021/nn406252h (2014).

S. Bonde, T. Berthing, M. H. Madsen, T. K. Andersen, N. Buch Månson, L. Guo, X. Li, F. Badique, K. Anselme, J. Nygård and K.L. Martinez. Tuning in as nanowire density for HEK293 cell viability, adhesion and morphology – perspectives for nanowire-based biosensors. ACS applied Materials & Interfaces 5(21):10510-9 doi:10.1021/am402070k (2013).

Rostgaard, K. R., Frederiksen, R.S., Liu, Y.-C.C., Berthing, T., Madsen, M.H., Holm, J., Nygard, J., and Martinez, K.L. Vertical nanowire arrays as a versatile platform for protein detection and analysis. Nanoscale 5, 10226-10235, doi:10.1039/c3nr03113f (2013). Selected for the Back Cover of the issue

Møller, T. C., Wirth, V.F., Roberts, N.I., Bender, J., Bach, A., Jacky, B.P.S., Stromgaard, K., Deussing, J.M., Schwartz, T.W., Martinez, K.L. PDZ Domain-Mediated Interactions of G Protein-Coupled Receptors with Postsynaptic Density Protein 95: Quantitative Characterization of Interactions. Plos One 8, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063352 (2013).

Mumm, F., Beckwith, K. M., Bonde, S., Martinez, K. L. & Sikorski, P. A Transparent Nanowire-Based Cell Impalement Device Suitable for Detailed Cell-Nanowire Interaction Studies. Small 9, 263-272, doi:10.1002/smll.201201314 (2013).

Berthing, T., Bonde, S., Rostgaard, K.R., Madsen, M.H., Sorensen, C.B., Nygard, J., and Martinez, K.L. Cell membrane conformation at vertical nanowire array interface revealed by fluorescence imaging. Nanotechnology 23, doi:10.1088/0957-4484/23/41/415102 (2012).

Berthing, T., Bonde, S., Sorensen, C.B., Utko, P., Nygard, J., Martinez, K.L. Intact Mammalian Cell Function on Semiconductor Nanowire Arrays: New Perspectives for Cell-Based Biosensing. Small 7, 640-647, doi:10.1002/smll.201001642 (2011).

Charvolin, D., Perez, J.-B., Rouviera, F., Giusti, F., Bazzacco, P., Abdine, A., Rappaport, F., Martinez, K.L., and Popot, J.-L. The use of amphipols as universal molecular adapters to immobilize membrane proteins onto solid supports. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 106, 405-410, doi:10.1073/pnas.0807132106 (2009).