International collaboration leads to cellular mechanobiology discovery

While engineers have gathered a lot of information about cells, they have not been able to tell the difference between how structural and material stiffnesses affect the behavior of a cell — until now.


Shumeng Jiang, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, was part of a team that uncovered previously unknown cell behaviors that are controlled by material or structural stiffness, such as growth, motility, differentiation and gene expression. The work was published in Nature Communications Aug. 2.

Jiang began the research with the team as a master’s student at Tsinghua University in Beijing, a member of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, an international network involving 34 research universities in partnership with Washington University. Read more on the engineering website.

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