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a National Science Foundation Center of Research Excellence in Science and Technology

Thrust 3 - Cellular and Multicellular Systems

Over the years, it has become increasingly clear that it is not only biochemical factors that are important, but that mechanical forces can play a salient role in directing cell behavior and mediate interactions. In this thrust, we therefore focus on the role of mechanics and mechanical interactions in emergent function at various levels – from single bacterial cells to multicellular developing tissue. Two specific focus areas of this research thrust are:

Bacterial Community Motility subproject involves understanding the responses of single motile bacteria to mechanical constraints and how unicellular systems can collectively interact to achieve multicellular motility, including how swarms of unicellular cells with known behavior coordinate to achieve multicellular motility, and (iii) identify and formulate physical rules that control directed motion of multicellular aggregates to use as design principles. This will allow for constructing from the bottom-up, multicellular composite ‘organisms’, specifically by coaxing unicellular motile cells to exist as 3-D multicellular constructs.

Differentiating Tissue sub-project is a targeted effort to understand, quantify, and direct cell-to-cell and mechanical signaling in differentiating stem cell populations. Current models include vascular stem cell populations, as well as, the mechanosensing mechanism used by cells with cilia.



Specific training under this project may include 3D tracking microscopy, light-sheet imaging, particle velocimetry, two-photon absorption, high-speed imaging, microfluidic device fabrication, atomic force microscopy, optical imaging, display applications and surface micromachining, stem cell culture, stem cell differentiation, immunofluorescence imaging, single cell flow cytometry and computer simulation and modeling methodologies.


Thrust 3 Faculty
Kara McCloskey
Associate Professor of Bioengineering
Thrust 3 Lead

McCloskey Lab Website
Ajay Gopinathan
CCBM Co-Director
Professor of Physics

Gopinathan Lab Website


Kinjal Dasbiswas
Assistant Professor of Physics
Faculty Affiliate

Dasbiswas Lab Website
Arvind Gopinath
Assistant Professor of Bioengineering
Gopinath Lab Website
Bin Liu
Assistant Professor of Physics
Liu Lab Website


Xuecai Ge
Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology

Ge Lab Website
Joel Spencer
Assistant Professor of Bioengineering
Spencer Lab
Stephanie Woo
Assistant Professor of Molecular Cell Biology
Woo Lab Website


Roberto C. Andresen Eguiluz

Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering


Andresen Eguiluz Lab website