MAE Seminar – The Intersection of Mechanobiology and Cellular Metabolism in Cancer


12:45 pm-2:00 pm
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MAE-A Room 303
939 Sweetwater Drive
Gainesville, FL 32611


The Intersection of Mechanobiology and Cellular Metabolism in Cancer

Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at 12:50 pm
Location: In-Person MAE-A, Room 303

Cynthia A. Reinhart-King, Ph.D.
University Distinguished Professor, Senior Associate Dean for Research in the School of Engineering
Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, Vanderbilt University

During solid tumor progression, cells undergo mechanical and metabolic changes that help to fuel metastasis. To move, cells must utilize ATP to fuel the cellular contractility and forces that sustain migration; however, very little is known about how the metabolic state of a cell affects its ability to migrate and vice versa. In this talk, I will describe my lab’s efforts to understand the forces driving cell movements in the tumor microenvironment and the energy required for movement. Combining tissue engineering approaches, mouse models, and patient samples, we create and validate in vitro systems to understand how cells navigate the tumor stroma environment to identify novel targets of cancer metastasis. Microfabrication and native biomaterials are used to build mimics of the paths created and taken by cells during metastasis. Using these platforms, we have described a role for a balance between cellular energetics, cell and matrix stiffness, and confinement in determining migration behavior. Moreover, we have extended this work into investigating the intersection of diabetes and the diabetic tissue microenvironment with tumor progression, showing that mechanical changes in the tissue due to diabetes can promote cancer. Our work has demonstrated key mechanical drivers of metastasis within the tissue microenvironment.

Cynthia Reinhart-King is a distinguished university professor, Senior Associate Dean for Research in the School of Engineering, and the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering and a Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University. Before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2017, she was on the faculty of Cornell University, where she received tenure in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She obtained undergraduate degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biology at MIT and her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Bioengineering. Her lab’s research interests are in the areas of cell and tissue mechanics and cell migration as it relates to disease progression, particularly in cancer, atherosclerosis, and angiogenesis. She was awarded the Rita Schaffer Young Investigator Award in 2010 and the Mid-Career Award in 2018 from the Biomedical Engineering Society, an NSF CAREER Award, the 2010 Sonny Yau ‘72 Excellence in Teaching Award, a Cook Award for “contributions towards improving the climate for women at Cornell,” the Zellman Warhaft Commitment to Diversity Award from the Cornell College of Engineering, and the Vanderbilt Chancellor’s Award for Research. She is a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). She was an inaugural New Voices Fellow of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. She served as a standing member of the NIH CMT study section panel and currently serves as an elected Board Member of AIMBE and President of the Biomedical Engineering Society.

MAE Faculty Host: Xin Tang


Hosted by

UF Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering