Computational Modelling Group

Seminar  20th May 2016 10 a.m.  85/2207

In vitro Systems and Computational Models for Studying Cell-Matrix Interactions and Mechanobiology

Edward Sander
University of Iowa

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Biomathematics, Biomechanics, Biomedical, IfLS, Mechanobiology, Medicine, Systems biology, Tissue Engineering
Dario Carugo

Abstract: During development, cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions orchestrate the formation of organised, functional tissues, but later in life these same tissues have limited capacity to regenerate themselves in response to injury, disease, or the aging process. Efforts to direct tissue self-structuring and remodelling are progressing but they are still hampered by a lack of understanding of how these interactions are coordinated locally and globally across multiple length and time scales, particularly in terms of the role of the mechanical environment. This environment is dependent in part on the composition, organization and stiffness of the local extracellular matrix and by the manner in which physical forces are communicated throughout the tissue to the cellular level (i.e. multi-scale mechanical interactions). This communication also involves mechanochemical interactions amongst different cell types and distinct compartments within a tissue, such as between epithelial and mesenchymal structures (EMS), which are prevalent throughout the body and are critical to tissue function. Thus, mechanical cues contribute to a complex and poorly understood process of self-structuring and remodelling that necessitates the development of a computational framework that can incorporate a multitude of different types of experiments into a comprehensive whole.

Our lab is working to build this kind of framework by utilizing in vitro time-lapse imaging experiments on keratinocytes and fibroblasts, the primary cellular components of EMS in skin, to develop and tune a multi-scale computational model for understanding and predicting how physical forces and the mechanical interplay of cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions drives self-structuring and remodelling in tissues with EMS, particularly in the context of wound healing and scar formation. This unique combined modelling and experimental approach will enable new insights on emergent multi-scale tissue behaviours directed by mechanobiological principles that are not possible through traditional reductionist approaches.

The Speaker: Ed Sander is an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Iowa. During his postdoctoral training he was a research associate at the Cincinnati Shriners Hospital for Children and the Department of Surgery at the University of Cincinnati and an NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. He obtained his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and his M.Eng. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Tulane University.