Modeling and Quantifying Cell Function: 25 years of Cell Mechanobiology (16w5141)


(University of Pennsylvania)

(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

(University of Toronto)


The Banff International Research Station will host the "Modeling and Quantifying Cell Function: 25 years of Cell Mechanobiology" workshop from October 9th to October 14th, 2016.

The idea that physical effects help determine biological structure and function
has a long if often neglected history in cell biology and physiology. Before the
molecular biology revolution of the 1950's some of the most influential
laboratories explicitly emphasized the importance of incorporating the laws of
physics into biological models, and many experimental studies have revealed the
important effects of force application, substrate stiffness, or surface
topography on cell growth in culture and tissue function in vivo. From the
studies that defined the effects of force on the dissociation rates of bonds at
the molecular and cellular levels, to Wolff's law which predicts how bones
develop and are structured in response to imposed loads at the whole organism
level, the evidence that physical effects are important, quantifiable, and
controllable in biology and medicine is compelling. New technologies and
interest in mechanical effects enabled groundbreaking studies in the 1990s that
unambiguously showed how direct application of forces to cell adhesion sites or
changes in the elastic modulus of the substrate altered cell function and
structure. These advances have shown how specific, controllable, and in some
cases reversible effects of mechanical stimuli on cell function can act in
concert with or in some cases override or prevent chemical stimulation. In
parallel, analytical theories and mathematical approaches derived in large part
from soft matter physics and the rapid advance of computational methods have
raised the possibility to study living matter with the same precision and
predictive power as other physical systems.
Traditionally, biological, physical and mathematical studies of living systems
have emerged from the interests of individual groups, sometimes in
collaboration, but have not necessarily enjoyed the level of crosstalk and
commonality of language that would optimize these efforts. The field of
physical cell biology and mechanobiology in particular has matured to the point
where physicists and mathematicians have the potential to unravel important
problems in medicine, biology, and ecology that have evaded explanation by
genetics, biochemistry and other more mature approaches to biology. This
workshop will critically access progress in integrating physical and biological
research programs, foster new collaborations, and identify the crucial issues
that his collaborative effort has the potential to address.

The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is a collaborative Canada-US-Mexico venture that provides an environment for creative interaction as well as the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the Mathematical Sciences, with related disciplines and with industry. The research station is located at The Banff Centre in Alberta and is supported by Canada's Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alberta's Advanced Education and Technology, and Mexico's Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT)..