Our Research Mission
Cells in living organisms are surrounded by physical cues, such as mechanical forces, material properties and electrical cues. These cues vary depending on their location in the body, so that different cells experience a variety of types, magnitudes, and dynamics of mechanical input. The ability of cells to take reliable decisions about cell behavior based on local physical cues is a key component of equilibrium in living organisms. However, the origin of specialized mechanosignaling in cells is not well understood. How do stem cells and other progenitor cells determine how to respond to physical cues in site-appropriate ways? When is specialized mechanosignaling necessary for successful embryonic development and organism homeostasis?
Our group studies how stem cells learn to respond to mechanical forces and electrical cues during the development and maintenance of the nervous and cardiovascular organ systems. We use approaches from biology, engineering, and computer science to study the molecular circuits that enable specialized mechanosignaling. We seek quantitative insights to help design cell and regenerative medicine therapies for neural and vascular applications.