Simbios Talk by Ronald Kwon, Stanford University, April 30, 2008

Title: Towards Image-Based Mechanical Models of Cells

Mechanical loading is an important factor in the development and/or maintenance of a diverse range of organs and tissues. Their response to loading is dictated by the mechanical response and subsequent biochemical signaling of the cells residing within these tissues. Thus, it comes as no surprise that cellular mechanical behavior has been implicated to be an important factor in the pathology of many diseases such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and heart failure. Our understanding of the mechanical regulation of the pathologic processes involved in these diseases would be greatly enhanced if it were possible to predict the mechanical behavior of a particular cell from validated mechanical models constructed from microscopically obtained observations. In this talk, I will discuss recent advancements by our lab and others in two aspects critical to the achievement of this goal: (1) microstructurally-informed constitutive models for the mechanical behavior of the actin cytoskeleton (a critical component governing the mechanics of adherent cells), and (2) displacement tracking of cells under loading. The talk will conclude with a discussion of future directions for the construction and validation of cellular structural models that account for anisotropic and heterogeneous distributions of actin filaments.