Mechanical Engineering Department Seminar
11:00 AM Friday, February 13, 2009 in room 245, Refreshments served at 10:45 AM
Dr. Kristen L. Billiar
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Tissue Mechanics and Mechanobiology Laboratory
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Mechanical modulation of cell function and tissue remodeling
Healing and remodeling of soft connective tissues such as skin and heart valves are guided by chemical, structural, and mechanical cues. Understanding how these stimuli combine to modulate cell function is critical for the rational design of treatments for tissue pathology. To date, much of what has been learned about mammalian cell function has been gleaned from in vitro studies of cells cultured on stiff glass or plastic substrates. In recent years however it has become clear that cells are highly sensitive to mechanical stimuli, and that the mechanical environment modulates the cells’ response to chemical stimuli. Based upon this realization, many researchers have adopted model systems with tunable mechanical environments, and the field of mechanobiology has rapidly emerged. This line of research promises to provide important insight into wound healing and the etiology of fibrocontractive disease as well as a more complete picture of basic cell signaling and function.