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BE Seminar: “Designer Matrices and Measurements of Cell-Matrix Remodeling” (Sarah Heilshorn)

March 24 at 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

UPDATE: This seminar will be virtual only via zoom – check email for zoom link or contact ksas@seas.upenn.edu.

Cell-induced matrix remodeling is a hallmark of tissue development, disease, and regeneration. My lab has been developing biomaterials and matrix characterization methods to study these dynamic cell-matrix interactions. In designing our biomaterials, we employ protein engineering methods to create biomimetic extracellular matrices with the direct ability to tune the matrix mechanics including stiffness and stress relaxation rate. We have identified matrix remodeling as a key property in the design of xeno-free matrices that support the growth of patient-derived primary tissue organoids. In a complementary project, we have developed a micro-rheology strategy that uses dynamic light scattering to characterize the mechanical properties of dynamic biomaterials over time. We have used this method to measure the changes in matrix stiffness in cultures of breast cancer cells. Interestingly, we discovered that the cells stiffen the matrix at short time-scales, while simultaneously fluidizing the matrix at long time-scales. This seemingly paradoxical stiffening and fluidization are a consequence of active cell forces that result in matrix remodeling. Our results suggest a mechanism whereby breast cancer cells reconcile the seemingly contradictory requirements for both tension and malleability in the matrix during invasion by differential alteration of matrix mechanics across different time-scales.

Sarah Heilshorn, Ph.D.

Professor and Associate Chair, Materials Science & Engineering, Stanford University

Sarah Heilshorn is Professor and Associate Chair in the Materials Science & Engineering Department at Stanford University, where she also serves as Director of the Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials. Her laboratory integrates concepts from materials science and protein engineering to design bioinspired materials for regenerative medicine, organoid culture, and bioprinting. She is a fervent supporter of diversifying the research community. She is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the Royal Society of Chemistry. She serves as Associate Editor of the journal Science Advances, Special Content Editor of Acta Biomaterialia, and on the Board of the International Society for Biofabrication.


March 24
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
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