Understanding How Biological Cells Self-Organize Into Organs and Organisms

  • Speaker
  • Lisa Manning, Ph.D.William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Physics, Syracuse University
Date & Time

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In multicellular organisms, properly programmed collective motion is required to form tissues and organs. Such programming breaks down in diseases like cancer. Recent experimental work highlights that some organisms tune the global mechanical properties of a tissue across a fluid-solid transition to allow or prohibit cell motion and control processes such as body axis elongation. Researchers have also begun to try to understand how these collective behaviors are robustly programmed, as instructions for constructing large-scale structures such as organs are encoded at the much smaller scale of molecules.

In this Presidential Lecture, M. Lisa Manning will highlight universal features that emerge from models developed to predict collective cell behavior and discuss how the origin of rigidity in tissues is similar to that in mechanical metamaterials, like origami, and different from those in standard materials like glasses or granular matter. Manning will also discuss recent progress in ‘bottom-up’ approaches that identify cell- and molecular-scale rules resulting in complex emergent behavior, as well as ‘top-down’ approaches that use new physical learning paradigms to predict how tissues should tune cell-scale properties to optimize their collective response.

About the Speaker

Manning uses theoretical and computational tools to study the mechanical properties of biological tissues and other disordered materials. Her work particularly focuses on predicting emergent behavior such as cell migration, tissue stiffness and cellular geometries and their impact on biological processes such as embryonic development, wound healing and cancer tumorigenesis. She is a fellow of the American Physical Society and received the 2018 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award from the American Physical Society, the 2016 IUPAP Young Investigator Prize, a Simons Investigator award and a Sloan Fellowship.

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