Cancer Research

Systems Biology of Cancer

Research in the Zaman lab is focused on understanding the cooperativity in molecular and cellular regulators of tumor invasion and metastasis. In particular, we are interested in understanding how mechanical, chemical and biological components of the cellular interior and exterior act synergistically during these processes. Current projects include the role of matrix mechanics in chemoresistance and protein expression, elucidating integrin-MMP crosstalk in cancer and the development of in vitro tumoroid models for studying various chemotherapy delivery strategies. In essence we are interested in developing a comprehensive understanding of how cell-cell and cell-matrix interaction affect cancer progression of drug response.
We also rely upon computational tools, as all of our projects have a theoretical component to compliment the experimental work. Our tools are derived from fundamental principles of mechanics, imaging, chemistry and cell biology and are tailored to fit the needs of specific projects. Current projects include modeling the role of proteases in adhesion and migration, signalling cascade responses to drug administration and the effect cellular mechanical properties on cell migration through 3D environments. For more information, please see our recent publications.


Multi-Scale Modeling of Cell-Adhesion and Migration

Gaining insight into the mechanisms by which a cell moves requires understanding of both intracellular and intercellular processes. At the Zaman Lab we have developed multi-scale models to understand processes from receptor ligand interactions at the single molecule level to collective cell motion that affects tumor growth and tissue invasion. Using diverse principles such as force-based models, Monte Carlo simulations, and renormalization theory, we study the effect of molecular properties in cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. Complementary to our experimental study of cancer we use these models to better understand processes crucial to cell migration such as cell attachment, cell communication, cytoskeletal rearrangements, downstream signaling, matrix degradation, and matrix remodeling.

For more information, please see our recent publications.


Cellular Mechanics

In order go gain fundamental insights on the working of the cellular machinery, we need to understand both the mechanics and dynamics within the cellular environment. Research in the cellular mechanics initiative is aimed at understanding the role of cellular mechanical properties in regulating adhesion and migration. Mechanical properties of tumor cells, at various stages of tumor formation and cancer progression are of particular interest. In addition, we are also interested in understanding how cellular mechanical properties adapt to the extracellular mechanical and biochemical properties within two and three dimensional environments.

For more information, please see our recent publications.