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Department of Biomedical Engineering

Seminar Friday, March 27


Natacha DePaola, Ph.D.
Professor and Department Head
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Biophysical Regulation of Mammalian Cell Function: Understanding Disease, Developing Therapies, and Engineering Functional Tissues


Mammalian cells and tissues demonstrate an exquisite response to alterations in their biophysical environment.

This lecture will discuss the role of physical mechanisms and the influence of physical factors on cellular behavior emphasizing its importance in the understanding of human disease, the development of new therapies, and the engineering of functional tissues.

The lecture will be divided in two parts:

Part I, “Fluid Dynamics Regulates Specificity in Endothelial Cell Communication and its Role in the Maintenance of Vascular Homeostasis” will discuss our research findings and ongoing efforts towards the understanding of the role of hemodynamics in vascular disease. I will present our findings on flow regulation of gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) in in vitro models of atherogenesis-prone regions of the human vasculature.  Various hemodynamic parameters will be considered and biological features associated with altered endothelial phenotype will be presented.

Part II, I will briefly discuss the development of new biophysical approaches in my laboratory with potential applications to the development of  new therapies for the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders (i.e. osteoporosis), cancer immunotherapies, and tissue engineering applications (including bone cell function and growth regulation, stem cell differentiation, and engineering of 3-Dimensional bone cell constructs).