M-CELS Seminar: Biomechanics of Engineered Living Systems

April 7, 2023 from 1-2 PM EST

Please join us for our next virtual M-CELS seminar on “Biomechanics of Engineered Living Systems.” The event will consist of lightning talks from a faculty member from each M-CELS institution (MIT, UIUC, Georgia Tech), followed by a panel discussion with all three speakers about the future of the field.


Prof. Ming Guo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Talk Title: When mechanics meets biology: Cell mechanics and mechanobiology in multicellular living systems
  • Abstract: Sculpting of structure and function of three-dimensional multicellular tissues depend critically on the spatial and temporal coordination of cellular physical properties. Yet the organizational principles that govern these events, and their disruption in disease, remain poorly understood. My lab works on developing new tools to characterize and understand the role of mechanics in biology. In this talk, I will introduce our recent progress in characterizing cell and ECM mechanics, and their interactions in 3D and in multicellular systems. I will also discuss the impact of cell mechanics on a variety of critical cell biological functions.

Prof. Deborah Leckband, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  •  Talk Title: Cadherins —more than molecular Velcro between cells
  •  Abstract: Cadherins are essential cell-to-cell adhesion proteins that regulate tissue assembly and maintain the integrity of all soft tissues. They are also essential mechanical and signaling hubs that regulate a range of tissue functions, including, for example, contact inhibition of proliferation and the leakiness of blood vessels. We are studying how cadherin complexes transduce force fluctuations to activate signals that regulate tissue functions. Our experimental approaches span length scales from proteins to tissues. We recently discovered that cadherins transduce force by binding and mechanically regulating growth factor receptor signaling at intercellular adhesions. Our findings revealed basic features of the receptor interactions and the impact of force and growth factors on the hetero-receptor complexes and signaling. We are exploring the broader implications of these findings in 3D breast tumor organoid cultures as well as in tissue engineering, where we are exploiting cadherin-selective adhesion and signaling to tune cell and tissue functions.

Professor Todd Sulchek, George Institute of Technology

  • Talk Title: Cell biomechanics at fast time scales — new systems for cell engineering
  • Abstract: Cell mechanical properties have been shown to influence capacity to migrate (e.g. enhanced deformability) and to indicate functional properties of cells (e.g. viability). However cells can have distinct mechanical properties at fast timescales (submillisecond). We will introduce microfluidic tools that can leverage cell mechanical properties in the regime of large deformation, fast timescale for the purposes of cell separations and cell transfection. These technologies may be translated to important applications such as the development of cell based therapies.


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