The Laboratory of Applied Mechanobiology directed by Prof. Viola Vogel deciphers how bacteria and cells employ the stretching of proteins to switch biochemical functions (mechano-chemical signal conversion), and how such insights can be exploited for biomedical applications.
A special emphasis is on understanding how the mechanobiology of extracellular matrix directs diverse cell functions and stem cell differentiation. In our research we use novel micro- and nanofabrication techniques to engineer precisely controlled cell environments, combined with novel nanoanalytical techniques to probe the mechanics of single molecules, cells and tissues, as well as advanced imaging techniques, sophisticated cellular reprogramming methods, diverse molecular biological techniques, and steered molecular dynamics to derive structural models how mechanical forces switch the structure-function relationship of proteins. The cell types we investigate include fibroblasts, mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells, mouse and human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), as well as macrophages and other differentiated somatic cells.
In the context of our stem cell research, a new technology has been developed to improve on the control of PS cell differentiation, which opens new possibilities at the frontier of research and medicine. The Laboratory of Applied Mechanobiology provides a highly interdisciplinary environment that supports collaborative projects for researchers in the fields of biomedical engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, cell biology, biophysics, chemistry, microbiology and bioinformatics. A high translational value of our research in applied and basic science is facilitated by joining resources with clinical research partners.