Sub-cellular mechanics and its influence on biological function


Cells are exquisitely sensitive to mechanical force, and respond in a variety of ways, both beneficial and pathological.  While biologists have contributed enormously to our understanding of the biochemical signaling pathways that transmit these responses, little progress has been made in identifying the initiating event in which a mechanical force is first transduced into a biochemical signal.  Several mechanisms have been proposed, and some have been characterized, but there is still much to learn.  In the process of studying the interactions between force and biology, a new field, “mechanobiology,” has emerged at their interface, and a new term has been coined, “mechanomics,” to encompass the state of stress and its biological consequences. This talk will address some of the theories of mechanical force transduction, the role of mechanics at multiple length-scales, and some computational models that can help aid in our understanding of these essential phenomena.




Short bio:


Roger Kamm is the Germeshausen Professor of Mechanical and Biological Engineering and Associate Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. A primary objective of Kamm’s research group has been the application of fundamental concepts in fluid and solid mechanics to better understand essential biological and physiological phenomena.  Studies over the past thirty years have addressed issues in the respiratory, ocular and cardiovascular systems.  More recently, his attention has focused on two new areas, the molecular mechanisms of cellular force sensation, and the development of new scaffold materials for vascularized engineered tissues. He is a Fellow of the American Institute for Biomedical Engineering and the American Society for Mechanical Engineering.  He is the current chair of the US National Committee on Biomechanics and the World Council on Biomeechanics, and Director of the Global Enterprise for Micro Mechanics and Molecular Medicine.  Kamm recently co-edited a book, “Cytoskeletal Mechanics: Models and Measurements”, with Dr. Kaazempur-Mofrad, and has over 150 research publications.


The education of students in bioengineering and biomechanics at MIT has been a long-standing interest.  Kamm was one of three faculty to develop the Undergraduate Minor in Biomedical Engineering at MIT (1995), and he chaired the committee to initiate the Master of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering (2000). Kamm also served as the co-chair the committee to develop a new undergraduate major in Biological Engineering that began last year. Kamm received the Everett Moore Baker Memorial Award, the highest Institute-wide teaching award selected by students, for his undergraduate teaching in Mechanical Engineering.