Summary: Studies in Mechanical Adaptations Laboratory are directed towards understanding how changes in tissue mechanical environment in relation to exercise, injury, aging and disuse regulate structural adaptations in cells to control signaling and eventually fate decisions in stem cells.
Our research employ biology, physics and engineering to identify the function and regulation musculoskeletal cells (bone, muscle, cartilage and fat) under mechanical challenges. In our laboratory we apply variety of mechanical signals to cells which are designed to be comparable analogs for exercise such as mechanical stretching and low intensity vibrations as well as analogs for unloading and microgravity.
Our research employs both experimental methods including cell biology, microscopy, experimental mechanics and photometry) as well as computational methods like finite element methods.
Minimum classes: Non required, interest for cutting edge research is encouraged!
Possible projects include but are not limited to:
Identification of changes in nuclear mechanics under LaminA/C deficiency: LaminA/C is the chief mediator of nuclear mechanics and integrity, as we age LaminA/C gets defective and internal organization is lost. This projects aims to understand the mechanical consequences of LaminA/C deletion in musculoskeletal stem cells. Students will learn to work with cell culture, and routine molecular biology techniques to quantify LaminA/C and will employ Atomic Force Microscope to measure mechanical properties of a nucleus.
Effects of Mechanical Vibration on cytoskeletal and nuclear structure: When at high frequency (30-90 Hz) at low intensity (<1g, where 1g is the earths gravitational field) mechanical vibrations can improve bone phenotype and osteoblastogenesis of stem cells. This study aims to understand the mechanical and structural changes in stem cells following the application low intensity vibrations. Students will learn to work with Cell culture and will use fluorescence microscopy to obtain three dimensional cell images.
Measuring real-time deformation of cell nucleus under substrate strain: The degree of mechanical connectivity between nucleus and cytoskeleton can be measured by measuring the ratio of mechanical stretch of nucleus normalized to the applied substrate strain. This experimental study aims to understand the degree by which changes in the different components of cell cytoskeleton (microtubules, actin and intermediate filaments) as well as their connectors to the nuclear surface would affect the degree of nuclear deformation in response to global cell stretching. Suring this study students will learn to work with cells, use vital dies to fluorescently label cell nucleus as well as using image correlation techniques to assess level of nuclear deformation.
*There are more projects available to effects of mechanical signals on extracellular matrix composition as well as differentiation potential.