Uncovering the mechanical forces that sculpt tissue form
We are interested in uncovering the physical (mechanical) mechanisms by which epithelial sheets fold themselves into branching tubes in the embryo, and using those mechanisms to engineer tissues in culture. Over the past half century, developmental biologists have identified several biochemical signaling pathways and genetic control mechanisms necessary for tissue morphogenesis. In parallel, biological systems must obey Newton’s laws of motion, and physical forces need to be generated in order to sculpt simple populations of cells into complex tissue forms. Inspired by the evolutionary diversity of embryonic forms, we have created microfabrication- and lithographic tissue engineering-based approaches to investigate the mechanical forces and downstream signaling pathways that are responsible for generating the airways of the lung. I will discuss how we combine these experimental techniques with computational models to uncover the physical forces that drive morphogenesis. I will also describe efforts to uncover and actuate the different physical mechanisms used to build the airways in lungs from birds, mammals, and reptiles.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Celeste Nelson, Ph.D., Wilke Family Professor in Bioengineering and a Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering and Molecular Biology at Princeton University
Celeste M. Nelson is the Wilke Family Professor in Bioengineering and a Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering and Molecular Biology at Princeton University. Her laboratory specializes in using engineered tissues and computational models to understand how mechanical forces direct developmental patterning events during tissue morphogenesis and during disease progression, with a particular emphasis on the vertebrate lung. Her group is best known for revealing how mechanical forces from the mesenchyme sculpt morphogenesis of the epithelium. When she’s not thinking about lungs, Celeste can be found running, planning her next run, or daydreaming about tasty food to fuel her running.
ABOUT THE VAN C. MOW LECTURE
Dr. Van C. Mow is one of the earliest researchers in biomechanics. Throughout his more than 50-year career, Dr. Mow has made outstanding and brilliant contributions to orthopedic biomedical engineering, including biomechanics studies on articular cartilage, intervertebral disk, knee meniscus, diarthrodial joint mechanics, joint lubrication, and osteoarthritis.
Among Dr. Mow's many achievements, he was the founding chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science from 2000 to 2011. To honor Dr. Mow for his many contributions to the Department of Biomedical Engineering, the School has created the annual Van C. Mow Lecture. Each fall, a distinguished leader in the field of biomedical engineering is invited to deliver this lecture.