María Virumbrales-Muñoz

Credentials: PhD

Position title: Assistant Professor


Phone: (608) 890-3649

H4/658, 600 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI, 53593.


PhD Biomedical Engineering, University of Zaragoza

M.S. Molecular and Cell biology, University of Zaragoza.

M.S. Education, University of Zaragoza

Research Summary

  • Biomimetic modeling of ovarian cancer initiation and factors promoting metastasis.
  • Biomimetic modeling of cell-cell interactions and cues in the primary breast tumor.
  • Biomimetic modeling of tumor angiogenesis (e.g., renal, ovarian).

Research Detail

My research focuses on understanding the microenvironmental cues driving cancer progression and metastasis, with a specific focus on finding molecular targets to slow these processes. To this end, we generate physiologically relevant 3D models of tissue microenvironments using microfluidic technologies (i.e., small platforms handling volumes in the microscale). These technologies allow us to assemble different cell types in structures that resemble tissue organization, and cancer progression in these tissues. Specifically, we work on modeling the Fallopian tube and omentum for ovarian cancer metastasis, modeling the mammary duct for breast cancer, and the renal tubule for kidney cancer. We use a combination of molecular and functional techniques (e.g., microscopy with fluorescent reporters, bead-based ELISA) to characterize these models and evaluate the role of specific cues in driving cancer progression and metastasis. Model results are validated back to patient data with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes.