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BioEngineering

Click on the title for full description of SURE 2014 projects in the Department of Bioengineering .

BIO-001: Tunable viscoelastic substrates for cell contractile work measurements
Professor:  Allen Ehrlicher
E-mail: allen [dot] ehrlicher [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Research Area: Cell mechanics


Description: Synthesis and characterization of tunable viscoelastic substrates for cell contractile work measurements. Traction force microscopy is a well-established methodology to measure the local contractile forces exerted by a cell, and is accomplished by measuring the deformation of a soft elastic substrate by cell forces. From this measured deformation, the strain is calculated, and by knowing the elastic modulus of the substrate, the forces are calculated. Key changes in physiology and pathology are reflected in these cell forces, such as in metastatic progression of cancer. These substrates accurately reflect the cell forces, but do not reflect the total work done by the cell, as rather quickly a force-equilibrium is reached; in order to do so, we must be able to include a dissipative component to the substrate, allowing cells to continuously expend energy deforming the surface. Such measurements will allow new measurements of cell contractile work, as well as characterizing time-scales of cell structural relaxation. This project will create substrates with tunable frequency-dependent storage and loss moduli using polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) silicone elastomers, and use microscopy to characterize active cell behavior on substrates with various mechanical properties. Familiarity with two-dimensional viscoelasticity, mammalian cell culture, rheology, and MatLab, are all highly useful for this project.

Tasks: Substrate synthesis Cell culture Fluorescence microscopy

Deliverable: This project will create substrates with tunable frequency-dependent storage and loss moduli using polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) silicone elastomers, and use microscopy to characterize active cell behavior on substrates with various mechanical properties.

Number of positions: 1