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Suzan Mazur on mechanobiology, the next level of understanding of the cell


Mechanobiology is an engineer’s vision of the cell: How do forces and mechanisms in cells and tissues contribute to cell development, differentiation, function, and deterioration (disease). From Suzan Mazur at Oscillations:

The mechanobiology field actually goes by assorted names, among them: soft matter, the new condensed matter physics, morphomechanics, morphometrics, biomechanics, biophysics, mathematical biology (partial list), and importantly integrates life across the board: animals, plants, fungi, microbes—which has to include viruses. It also encompasses materials science. So you can put active matter under the mechanobiology umbrella (but without Lee Cronin’s “Alien chemist“).

When I say mechanobiology is all the rage, I’m not simply referring to lab research and scientific conferences on the subject, although they are, of course, central. But also to: (1) mechanobiology university courses based on current scientific papers (not textbooks); (2) academic bootcamp to train high school teachers about mechanobiology; (3) university fellowships tied to the mentoring of students K-12 on mechanobiology; (4) various museum installations, including a permanent, full scale exhibit on shape designed to interactively educate kids as young as toddlers—to cite a few examples. More.

If we get comfortable with the term mechanobiology, will people still complain about those who think of the cell “mechanistically,” as a “mere machine”?

Note: A friend writes to say that three government agencies in Singapore sponsor this website on mechanobiology. “Mechanobiology describes the relationship between a cell and its environment; how a cell can detect, measure and respond to the rigidity of its substrate and how these processes apply to larger biological systems.”

See also: Mechanics as well as genetics is needed for viable embryo development


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