Paolo Provenzano

Headshot of Paolo Provenzano

Paolo Provenzano

Associate Professor,
Department of Biomedical Engineering


Nils Hasselmo Hall
Rm 7-120
312 Church St SE




  • BS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, 1998

  • MS, Biomedical Engineering (Mechanics), University of Wisconsin, 2000

  • PhD, Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, 2003

  • DOD Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Wisconsin, 2003-2009

  • Research Associate, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 2009-2012


Paolo P. Provenzano is an Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota. He is a project leader and executive committee member of the NCI-designated University of Minnesota Physical Sciences in Oncology Center (PSOC) and is also an American Cancer Society Research Scholar and a University of Minnesota Masonic Scholar.

Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, Dr. Provenzano was a DOD-CDMRP Breast Cancer Research Program postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin where he helped pioneer the field of cancer cell mechanobiology, and a Research Associate at the Fred Hutchinson cancer Research Center where he developed novel therapeutic strategies targeting key physical properties in tumors.

Research Interests

Dr. Provenzano’s current research interests center on:

  1. Defining how complex interactions in cancer drive disease progression to metastasis by understanding the influence and interactions of mechanical, architectural and biochemical inputs in the tumor microenvironment (e.g., carcinoma, fibroblast, and immune cell mechanobiology).
  2. Developing novel therapeutic strategies to combat disease by re-engineering tumor microenvironments to remove tumor-promoting cues, enhance delivery of small molecule therapeutics, and/or promote anti-tumor immune responses.
  3. Developing next-generation cell based therapies using rational engineering design principles, genome and cell engineering, and engineering technologies.

Dr. Provenzano has published more than 50 archived journal articles with more than 6,500 citations and an h-index of 27. To date he has received large scale funding (as PI) for his research from the NIH, American Cancer Society, CDMRP, Concern Foundation, Children’s Tumor Foundation, and Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund, the University of Minnesota.

Selected Publications

Ray A, Lee O, Win Z, Edward RM, Alford PW, Kim DH, Provenzano PP Anisotropic forces from spatially constrained focal adhesions mediate contact guidance directed cell migration. Nature Communications 8:14923, 2017.

Ray A, Slama ZM, Morford RK, Madden SA, Provenzano PP Enhanced Directional Migration of Cancer Stem Cells in 3D Aligned Collagen Matrices, Biophysical Journal, 112(5):1023-1036, 2017.

Nam KH, Kim P, Wood D, Kwon S, Provenzano PP*, Kim DH*, Multiscale Cues Drive Collective Cell Migration, *Co-senior / corresponding authors Scientific Reports 6(29749), 2016.

DuFort CC, DelGiorno KE, Carlson M, Osgood RJ, Zhao C, Huang Z, Shepard MH, Thompson CB, Conner RJ, Thanos CD, Brockenbrough S, Provenzano PP, Frost GI, Shepard MH, Hingorani SR Interstitial pressure in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is dominated by a gel-fluid phase Biophysical Journal 110(9):2106-19, 2016.

Provenzano PP, Cuevas C, Chang AE, Von Hoff DD, Hingorani, SR, Enzymatic targeting of the stroma ablates physical barriers to treatment of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, Cancer Cell, 21(3), 418-429, 2012.

Kim DH, Provenzano PP, Smith CL, Levchenko A, Understanding the role of nanotopographic cues in controlling cell functions, Journal of Cell Biology (review), 197(3), 351-60, 2012.

Provenzano PP, Keely PJ, Mechanical signaling through the cytoskeleton regulates cell proliferation by coordinated focal adhesion and Rho GTPase singaling, Journal of Cell Science (review) 124(8), 1195-1205, 2011.

Conklin MW, Eickhoff JC, Riching KM, Pehlke CA, Eliceiri KW, Provenzano PP, Friedl A, Keely PJ, Aligned collagen is a prognostic signature for survival in human breast carcinoma, American Journal of Pathology, 178(3): 1221-1232, 2011.

Provenzano PP, Eliceiri KW, Keely PJ, Shining new light on 3D motility and the metastatic process, Trends in Cell Biology (review) 19(11): 638-648, 2009.

Provenzano PP, Inman DR, Eliceiri KW, Keely PJ, Matrix density-induced stiffness regulates breast cell phenotype, signaling, and gene expression through a FAK-ERK linkage, Oncogene 28(49): 4326-4343, 2009.

Rueden CT, Conklin MW, Provenzano PP, Keely PJ, Eliceiri KW, Nonlinear optical microscopy and computational analysis of intrinsic signatures in breast cancer, Proc IEEE Eng. Med. Biol. Soc. 4077-4090, 2009.

Provenzano PP, Inman DR, Eliceiri KW, Keely PJ, Multiphoton microscopy and fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) to monitor metastasis and the tumor microenvironment, Clinical & Experimental Metastasis – Special Issue: Imaging the Dynamics of Cancer (invited review) 26(4): 357-70, 2009.

Conklin MW, Provenzano PP, Eliceiri KW, Sullivan R, Keely PJ, Fluorescence lifetime imaging of endogenous fluorophores in histopathology sections reveals differences between normal and tumor epithelium in carcinoma in situ of the breast, Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, 53(3): 145-157, 2009.

Provenzano PP, Inman DR, Trier SM, Eliceiri KW, Keely PJ, Contact guidance mediated 3D cell migration is regulated by Rho/ROCK-dependent matrix reorganization, Biophysical Journal, 95: 5374-5384, 2008.

Provenzano PP, Inman DR, Eliceiri KW, Beggs HE, Keely PJ, Mammary epithelial-specific disruption of focal adhesion kinase retards tumor formation and metastasis in a transgenic mouse model of human breast cancer, American Journal of Pathology, 173(5): 1551-1565, 2008.

Provenzano PP, Rueden CT, Trier SM, Yan L, Ponik SM, Inman DR, Keely PJ, and Eliceiri KW, Nonlinear optical imaging and spectral-lifetime computational analysis of endogenous and exogenous fluorophores in breast cancer, Journal of Biomedical Optics, 13(3): 031220, 2008.

Provenzano PP, Eliceiri KW, Campbell JW, Inman DR, White JG, Keely PJ, Collagen reorganization at the tumor-stromal interface facilitates local invasion, BMC Medicine 34(1): 2006.