Mathematically Modeling the Mechanics of Cell-Cell Interactions

Mathematically Modeling the Mechanics of Cell-Cell Interactions

Kathleen DiNapoli
PhD Candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
in the Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology
program and WFU Alum

Friday, October 26 2018 @ 3:30 pm
Manchester Hall 241
Refreshments will follow

The human body is an incredibly versatile machine capable of traversing diverse terrain, surviving nearly every climate on earth, and thinking rationally in times of intense stress. At the core of every efficient machine is a functional element which converts external stimuli into internal signals resulting in desired physical outcomes. While traditionally we may think of these elements as switches, breaks, and axles, the human body relies on cells. Cells are complex and dynamic mechanical systems allowing humans to arguably be the most complex and efficient machines on earth–so complex in fact, we still do not have a complete understanding of how they work. At a fundamental level, we understand that to have an efficient fit human, we must first maintain efficient healthy cells through the various stimuli that a human will encounter. Because of their inherent complexity, understanding how cells, and in turn humans, sense and respond to various stressors is a challenging issue to approach. Taking a physical perspective, we can consider a cell as a mechanical system that responds predictably to external inputs. By modeling a cell as a viscoelastic system, we can understand not only how cells interact with each other at the cellular and tissue level, we can more fully characterize how cells respond to changing environments. By using scientific computing techniques like mathematical and computational modeling we can efficiently, and quickly expose cells and tissues to varied environments to understand the impact of diverse external challenges in a way and at a speed that we cannot currently with traditional experimental methods.