Cellular and Subcellular Mechanics

Principal Investigators: Micah Dembo and Evan Evans

Experiments use extremely sensitive mechanical probes, novel materials and advanced optical microscopy to expose the physical actions and material properties of single cells and of the ultra fine macro molecular machines sensors and transducers that drive and control cellular and subcellular processes. Advanced computational methods are needed for data processing to obtain solutions for equations and for the final physical analysis used to establish definitive mechanistic interpretations of experimental data. A core teaching laboratory for training in nano-to-micro mechanical instrumentation has been set up to enable students and faculty to develop new research projects in biomedical engineering.

  • We have a goal of achieving force measurements with resolution on the scale of the thermal energy divided by a molecular dimension (approximately 10E-10 gm wt!). We are also trying to develop non-invasive detectors that will be capable of measuring displacements with resolution of a few nanometers at very high temporal rates
  • We are conducting studies to investigate the role of structural mechanics in regulating biochemical pathways, biological adhesion phenomena, cytoskeletal deformation and active cellular motility
  • We are developing novel materials that mimic the interfacial properties of natural biomaterials and we are studying the interactions of cells with such artificial substrata
  • We are developing novel biomaterials as substrata for control of cell adhesion and cell motility. For example, materials with patterned surface modifications are used to investigate the effect of their physical, chemical, and mechanical properties on interactions with living cells