BENG 250B Advanced Biomechanics

The goal of this class is to present current understanding of mechanical systems at the molecular and cellular scale and their involvement in central cell functions. Special emphasis will be put on the conceptualization of quantitative mechanical models at the sub-cellular scale, methods for direct and indirect measurement of mechanical parameters in vivo and in vitro, and the integration of biophysical, computational, cellular and molecular experimental approaches to characterize mechanical systems. The class will be organized as a mixture of lectures and paper discussions, where students will present landmark and/or particularly controversial papers in this field.

The following topics will be covered:

  • cytoskeleton composition and structure;
  • rheology of cytoskeleton;
  • force generation by molecular motors and ratchet mechanisms;
  • mechano-transduction;
  • cell migration and cell division as two examples of complex cell mechanical processes.

Credits will be given for i) the presentation of one paper; ii) a written essay to be submitted at the end of the quarter.