Studying Directed Cell Migration with Microfluidic Tools
The Center for Theoretical Biological Physics PRESENTS Seminar Speaker Dr. Alex Groisman Associate Professor of Physics University of California, San Diego
Abstract: Directed migration in response to spatial non-uniformity of various external cues takes a variety of forms, such as chemo-, photo-, thermo-, aero-, and mechano-taxis. It is vital in the bacterial search for nutrients and energy and in the sporulation of social amoebae. In multicellular organisms, it is essential for development, inflammation, wound healing, and cancer metastasis. To study directed cell migration quantitatively, cells need to be presented with well-defined spatial distributions (gradients) of the cues and cellular responses need to be monitored at both behavioral and biochemical levels. I will discuss several projects, illustrating how these experimental challenges are addressed using microfluidics. We studied bacterial (E. coli) aero-taxis in various gradients of oxygen tension. Studies of chemo-taxis of social amoebae (D. discoideum) revealed the limits of their sensitivity and the roles of spatial and temporal cues in their gradient sensing. Experiments on primary human endothelial cells showed their migration responses to uniform and non-uniform hydrodynamic shear stress.
Bio: Dr. Alex Groisman obtained his PhD in Physics in 2000 from the Weizmann Institute of Science, studying polymer fluid dynamics and elastic turbulence. He did his postdoc at Caltech with Steve Quake, studying non-linear flow phenomena in microscopic flows. After joining UCSD Physics as a faculty in 2002, Dr. Groisman has been working on mixing in chaotic flows and on the development of techniques and devices for microfluidic microbial cultures, bacterial and eukaryotic chemotaxis, imaging of model organisms, control of oxygen tension for cell cultures, studies of protein folding dynamics, blood cells under flow, cell cultures in microwells, and biolistic delivery. He has recently also been working on materials and techniques for cellular mechanosensing, cell stretching, and traction force microscopy.
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