Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering



Mechanical Regulation of the Cell


Dr. Daniel Fletcher


University of California Berkeley


Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 11:00:00 AM


MARC Building, Room Auditorium


Todd Sulchek


Understanding the molecular basis of cellular behavior is a central goal in biology and a critical guide for medical research. Increasing knowledge of the essential proteins in a complex process such as crawling motility raises the tantalizing question: Do we know enough to build it? Progress towards reconstitution of micron-scale cellular structures and processes has been limited by the challenges of understanding how spatial organization and physical constraints influence living cells. This talk will describe on-going efforts to create functional reconstitutions of the cytoskeleton and to understand how mechanics regulates cellular behavior. Evidence from optical and force microscopy studies show that mechanical forces play a crucial role in organizing cytoskeletal structures and guiding their function through both active and passive mechanisms. These results draw attention to the importance of physical boundary conditions on the normal and abnormal behavior of cells.


Dan Fletcher is the Jack Lloyd Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering and Biophysics at UC Berkeley, where his research focuses on the development of biomedical instruments and biophysical techniques to study cell mechanics and the cytoskeleton. Dr. Fletcher received a B.S.E. from Princeton University and a D.Phil. from Oxford University where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He received a Ph.D. from Stanford University as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Stanford University School of Medicine. His research has received an NSF CAREER Award, a Tech Award from the San Jose Tech Museum, and was designated “Best of What’s New” by Popular Science magazine, and he has served as a White House Fellow in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Dr. Fletcher is currently the Associate Chair of the Bioengineering Department at UC Berkeley and Deputy Director of the Physical Biosciences Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is also Faculty Affiliate of QB3, CITRIS, and CEND, and a member of the Bioengineering, Biophysics, and Nanoscale Science and Engineering Graduate Groups.