Creating Biomedical Technologies to Improve Health

2017 BESIP Project

Laboratory of Cellular Biology, Section on Auditory Mechanics
Mentor Name: 
Richard S. Chadwick, Ph.D
Alexander X. Cartagena-Rivera, Ph.D
Mentor Telephone: 

Laboratory and Project Description

Our laboratory mainly focuses on the use of the atomic force microscope (AFM) and mathematical models to study the biophysics of cells and tissues. The primary major research project of our lab is to understand the mechanical properties of inner ear sensory and non-sensory epithelial tissues using novel AFM techniques. The tissue mechanics provides critical insight on the diagnostic of hearing loss and deafness. The second major research project is focused on measuring the cortical mechanical properties of individual cells with perturbations in actomyosin activity.
We propose two summer projects in which the intern can decide which is of more interest; 
  1. The first project is on the inner sensory and non-sensory tissue surface mechanical properties by AFM nanoindentation. The cochlea and utricle will be dissected from a mouse at young (postnatal day P0-P3) and adult ages (<P21). Recorded force against distance curves will be analyzed to extract the elastic Young’s modulus.
  2. The second project is on the quantitative measurement of the membrane-cortex tension, hydrostatic pressure, and elastic Young’s modulus of nonadherent cells. We propose to use AFM tipless probes to deform the nonadherent cells with and without alterations in actomyosin activity. Using a mechanics theory developed in our lab we can estimate the actomyosin cortical mechanics. 
We are looking for motivated undergraduate or graduate students with background in biomedical engineering and cell biology. The candidate must have a basic understanding on physics, mechanics, and programming (preferably MATLAB). Lastly, the project goals for the summer intern are to: (i) become familiar with the basics of atomic force microscopy; (ii) perform subsequent analysis of acquired AFM data using MATLAB; and (iii) learn scientific writing.