Modeling and Quantifying Cell Function: 25 years of Cell Mechanobiology (16w5141)
Paul Janmey (University of Pennsylvania)
Taher Saif (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Craig Simmons (University of Toronto)
Broader impact: The outcome of the workshop will be disseminated to the broader community, funding agencies, national labs and international institutes. The proposed future roadmap will have a significant impact on the graduate research and education curriculum in cell mechanics, and research directions for junior researches in the field.
The proposed workshop will be the first of its kind where the scientists will ask critical questions, such as: What is the impact of mathematical analyses of mechanobiology on biologists and the broader research community? Is there a tangible societal benefit in the near future? What are the critical questions in mechanobiology that need to be addressed by the community as a whole? Are there efforts that can be trimmed? What are the discrete paths to translation? The need for such a gathering and a list of topics
Until now, most labs in mechanobiology have directed their efforts in addressing focused questions, and often theorists as well as experimentalists have worked in relative isolation rather than together to identify the most promising areas of collaboration. Many of these questions were guided by the instrumentation, computational resources, and expertise accessible to and developed by the labs. In spite of collaborations between groups, the research efforts have remained highly focused. In addition, researchers contributing to mechanobiology are from diverse fields and geographically dispersed, and there are still barriers to communication due to specialized educational backgrounds and jargon. It is thus timely to explore the synergy between different areas of expertise, identify common tools and methods, and define grand challenges that need to be addressed by a coordinated effort of various labs.
Format of the workshop
The workshop will span 5 days, 8am-12 pm and 7 pm to 9 pm for the first four days, and 8-12:30 the fifth day. All participants will be in the same session for presentations, with ample time in the afternoon for discussions in smaller groups. The workshop will be organized as a set of themes. Within each theme, there will be subthemes or key words (e.g., statistical mechanics of soft cytoskeletal assembly, cell-ECM interactions, active matter, signal transduction, etc.) that will be suggested to the speakers to cover. Each speaker will have 20 to 40 mins to give a presentation. They will be requested to address 3 questions as part of their presentation: (1) In your opinion, what is the most important finding from your lab? (2) Identify a grand challenge in the field. (3) Identify an area where cell mechanobiology may have a long lasting impact.
Prior to the workshop, the attendees will be asked to propose broader questions (hopefully provocative) that they would like to be discussed during the workshop. They will also justify the importance and relevance of the question in the context of the state of the art. These questions will be posted on the workshop website. They will be reviewed by a group of graduate students who will rephrase the questions to reduce overlaps and redundancies, and to make them more readable and transparent to scientists from different backgrounds. The speakers can address some of these questions during their talks.
The fifth day of the workshop will have 4 panel sessions, each one hr long. Each panel will have two session chairs. They will summarize the discussions from the themes covered during the first four days, i.e., outline the grand challenges, potential impacts, and future roadmaps. The summary will be followed by discussions by the participants. The objective will be to clearly state the grand challenges and outline the future directions that transcend the thematic boundaries. Sample Themes to be covered:
Relevant mechanical microenvironment in biology
Keywords: length, time and stiffness scales
Cell-matrix and cell-cell force interactions
Keywords: Force and stress scales, integrin and cadherin, focal complex
Keywords: motor proteins, actin-microtubule interactions, force induced protein conformations
Mechanisms of cell mechanotransduction
Keywords: transmembrane proteins, ion channels, transcription regulation
Computational approaches to cell structure
Keywords: statistical mechanics of biopolymers; glassy dynamics; self assembly
Keywords: motor proteins; non-equilibrium systems; fluctuation dissipation
Systems approach to mechanobiology
Keywords: emergent systems; feedback loops; genetic networks
Keywords: random walks; chemical and mechanics gradients; flocking
Dynamic reciprocity between cells and microenvironment
Keywords: cellular sensing of stiffness, growth factors
Keywords: chromatin rearrangement, nuclear deformation, LINK complex
Mechanical cues during embryogenesis and early development
Mechanical cues in disease progression
Keywords: tumor microenvironment, cardiomyopathy
Day 4 Chosen based on invited speakers
Day 5 Summary
A plan for recruitment of the speakers
The speakers will be selected based on their prior research records and contributions to the field of cell mechanobiology. The steering committee will propose and review the list of names. The final selection will be based on the match between the themes of the workshop and the expertise of the speaker, as well as the diversity of the speakers. Because mechanobiology is a relatively young field and has attracted many new investigators, selection of speakers from the most exciting recent work will inevitably select a relatively young and diverse pool of participants.
Sharing data and outcome of the workshop
The outcome of the workshop will be a report compiling the discussions from the themed sessions and the panels. The report will address the four questions raised by the workshop: (1) The most significant advances in cell mechanobiology to date, (2) The grand challenges and needs of the field, (3) Critical areas of its potential impact, and (4) Roadmaps for the field to realize these potentials. This report will be open to the public and can have a significant impact on the directions of new research by graduate students and junior faculty, as well as on the future funding decisions and allocations of NSF, NSERC, NIH and other institutions, in the US, Canada, and abroad.