EPFL BioE Talks SERIES "Mechanobiology: From Basic Science Discoveries Towards Translation"


Event details

Date 26.04.2021
Hour 16:0016:30
Speaker Prof. Viola Vogel, Laboratory of Applied Mechanobiology, Institute of Translational Medicine, Department for Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zurich (CH)
Location Online
Category Conferences - Seminars
(note that this talk is number one of a double-feature seminar - see details of the second talk here)

Although life is happening far out of equilibrium, our knowledge of proteins in biology, pharmaceutical sciences and medicine is still mostly based on knowledge of their equilibrium structure-function relationships.  Yet, the nanotech tools that physicists have brought to biology are challenging this notion as many proteins are either part of force-bearing fiber and filamentous networks, or interact with tensed protein networks in vivo.  As cells pull on proteins using their own motor proteins, they can furthermore partially unfold their secondary structure and thus switch their structure-function relationships,  a crucial step enabling cells to sense forces and the physical properties of their environments. Even though major insights into mechanobiological processes have been gained at the single cell level in the last decade, it is still not known how to translate these findings to the tissue level.    Partially due to the lack of nanotools to probe forces or mechanical strains in tissues, the impact of mechanical forces on protein functions and consequently on downstream cell signaling at the tissue level are still largely ignored. To address this challenge, we developed and validated a peptide-based nanosensor that can read out the tensional state of tissue fibers, in cryosections and in living animals. We will discuss our recent insights by comparing healthy versus diseased organ tissues and in cancer. To gain further insights into the underpinning mechanisms, we have set up several 3D microtissue platforms to better control mechanical and biochemical parameters. Discoveries into the mechanobiology at the tissue level are prone to open new therapeutic avenues.

Viola Vogel graduated with a PhD in Physics from the University of Frankfurt (1987) with research conducted at the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, for which she received the Otto-Hahn Medal. After her postdoctoral studies in Physics at UC Berkeley, she started her academic career at the University of Washington Seattle in Bioengineering (1990-2004), where she was the founding Director of the Center for Nanotechnology (1997-2003). When moving to ETH Zurich in 2004, she initially joined the Department of Materials and received an ERC Advanced Grant (2009). She then co-founded the Department of Health Sciences and Technology (2012) and chaired the Department from 2018-2020. She is currently Einstein Fellow at the Charité Berlin and Elected Member of the Leopoldina, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, USA, and serves on many international Advisory Boards. She received an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy from Tampere University, Finland 2012. Her research in Bioengineering focuses on how to exploit emerging knowledge in Mechanobiology for Applications in Tissue Engineering, Regenerative Medicine or to treat inflammatory diseases.

Zoom link (with registration) for attending remotely: https://go.epfl.ch/EPFLBioETalks

IMPORTANT NOTICE: due to restrictions resulting from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, this seminar can be followed via Zoom web-streaming only, (following prior one-time registration through the link above).

Practical information

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