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2018 saw mechanobiology, including biophysics, come to the fore

The mechanome, “the body of knowledge about mechanical forces at work in the molecular, cellular, anatomical, and physiological processes that contribute to the architecture of living structures and their physical properties,” became more prominent this year in discussions of biology (though one story on the physics of biology late last year garnered 354 comments). For so long, the genome ran away with all the interest and publicity but maybe that’s changing. At her blog, science writer Suzan Mazur talks about the way that mechanobiology is becoming mainstream: “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 Read More ›

The term “mechanome” is catching on, but slowly

At her blog, Suzan Mazur interviews neuroscientist Medha Pathak on the recent Mechanome in Action symposium she chaired at UC-Irvine. Pathak “is currently a professor of physiology and biophysics at UCI and heads the Pathak Lab’s investigation there into “how mechanical forces modulate neural stem cell fate in development and repair.” Suzan Mazur: If you google “mechanome,” you don’t see that many references to it. Medha Pathak: The term is catching on. The first Mechbio conference, organized by colleagues Padmini Rangamani, Juan Carlos del Alamo and Debanjan Mukherjee in 2016 at UC-San Diego, was called “Putting Together the Cell Mechanome: Finding the pieces, building the puzzle.” When organizing the 2018 conference, the second one in the series, we—Jun Allard, Albert Read More ›

Suzan Mazur asks: How far have we gotten in understanding the mechanome?

The mechanome is the underresearched “ the set of proteins or molecular entities that sense or respond to forces” within the cell (Allen Liu). Our earlier stab at the subject here at UD garnered 354 comments, so there’s no shortage of interest. The mechanome (and mechanobiology in general) plays a key role in research into artificial cells. Suzan Mazur is the author of The Paradigm Shifters: Overthrowing ‘the Hegemony of the Culture of Darwin’. Suzan Mazur talks to mechanical and biomedical engineer Allen Liu, one of the people best placed to offer some insights:   Suzan Mazur: The Liu Lab at the University of Michigan is particularly interested in the mechanobiology of the cell lipid membrane. Would you briefly describe your Read More ›