Cells in our body live in a 3-dimensional and often squishy world. Much of what we know about cell biology is based on studies of cells cultured on petri dishes, or rigid flat sheets of plastic. However, mammalian cells in soft tissues function in 3D microenvironments, which are soft and viscoelastic, and in which cells are surrounded by neighboring cells and an extracellular matrix. Importantly, cells sense and respond to the mechanical properties and dimensionality of the microenvironment, and a 3D microenvironment can be confining, serving as a physical barrier to processes such as cell migration or division that involve shape change or growth. We are interested in elucidating the mechanics of cell-matrix interactions in soft tissues. We seek to understand how the mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix regulate processes such as breast cancer progression, stem cell differentiation, and cell division. Further, we aim to determine the biophysics of cell migration and division in confining 3D microenvironments. Our approach involves the use of engineered biomaterials for 3D cell culture and instrumentation to measure forces at the microscale relevant to cells.

August 7, 2019
Sungmin's paper entitled "Cell cycle progression in confining microenvironments is regulated by a growth-responsive TRPV4-PI3K/Akt-p27Kip1 signaling axis" has been published in Science Advances. Check it out  here 
July 17, 2019
Julie's review entitled "Beyond proteases: Basement membrane mechanics and cancer invasion" has been published in the Journal of Cell Biology. Check it out  here 
July 8, 2019
Ryan's paper, entitled "Matrix stiffness induces a tumorigenic phenotype in mammary epithelium through changes in chromatin accessibility" has been published in Nature Biomedical Engineering. Check it out  here