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Experimental and Theoretical approaches to cell mechanics

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Mechanical forces play a fundamental role in a multitude of cellular phenomena. These mechanisms not only operate at the scale of a single molecule, but they also exhibit collective dynamics, generating active stresses and flows that can change cell shapes, drive cell locomotion, or result in tissue remodeling.

In recent years, tremendous progress has been made in understanding the main principles behind such “active dynamical processes” due to the development of fundamentally new theoretical ideas, novel experimental techniques to perform high precision mechanical measurements on live cells, and the development of simplified in-vitro systems. Key to these advancements is a strong interdisciplinary culture between physicists and biologists, and by combining the tools and expertise of the respective fields. 

This programme has two aims. First, to introduce the above mentioned physical concepts to students new to the field and post-doctoral fellows wishing to venture into this area of research via a series of pedagogical lectures starting form very basic concepts. Second, to provide PhD students and post-doctoral fellows with a hands-on experience in advanced experimental and computational techniques. Students will develop these techniques from scratch under the guidance of experts. Working in an interdisciplinary environment can be particularly challenging for youngsters venturing into this area of research. To try and overcome this challenge, physics and biology students will work together on the hands-on modules. 

LECTURESERIES (first week) Cell membrane elasticity and dynamics, molecular motors, physics of biopolymers (actin, microtubules), physics of active polymer networks and cell cytoskeleton, collective cell dynamics, etc. No prior knowledge of biology is assumed, but a good background in basic physics is required to get the most out of the lectures.

HANDS-ONMODULES (second week)

Optical Tweezers, Traction Force Microscopy, Micropipette Aspiration, Atomic Force Microscopy, Image Analysis, Stretchable Substrates, Microfluidics, In-Vitro Systems, Simulation of Active Brownian Particles, etc. PhD students and post-docs interested in interdisciplinary research can apply for this part of the programme.


Listed on 05 Dec 2016.

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