Margaret Gardel, PhD
Cell adhesion and migration; Cytoskeletal dynamics; Cellular mechanosensation

Assistant Professor, Physics Department, James Franck Institute, Institute for Biophysical Dynamics

ScB, Physics and Math, Brown University (1998)
PhD Physics, Harvard University (2004)


Research Summary

The goal of our lab is to understand how the physical behaviors of living cells are regulated to guide cell adhesion, shape change and force generation. To support the mechanical behaviors of cells, proteins assembly into polymer networks that exploit the enzymatic activity of single proteins to form dynamic materials that can generate forces and support movements at the micron length scales. Elucidating a coherent physical framework to understand the mechanical properties of cellular materials will establish a physical understanding of the regulation of both healthy human physiology and diseased states. Moreover, biological materials provide numerous models of dynamic, responsive materials that reside far from thermal equilibrium. Thus, the central hypothesis guiding our research is by integrating the fields of condensed matter physics and cell biology, the resultant ideas will have a profound impact on both biology and physics. Current work in the lab can be broadly categorized into three main areas:

Force Transmission at Cell Adhesions
Cellular Force Transmission
Self-Assembly and Biophysical Properties of Actin Networks and Bundles, and
Jamming in Colloidal Suspensions

Selected Publications

Transient frictional slip between integrin and the ECM in focal adhesions under myosin II tension. Aratyn-Schaus Y, Gardel ML. Curr Biol. 2010 Jul 13;20(13):1145-53. (PMID: 20541412)

Optimization of traction force microscopy for micron-sized focal adhesions. Stricker J, Sabass B, Schwarz US, Gardel ML. J Phys Condens Matter. 2010 Apr 26;22(19):194104. (PMID: 20523913) (pdf)

Traction stress in focal adhesions correlates biphasically with actin retrograde flow speed. Gardel ML, Sabass B, Ji L, Danuser G, Schwarz US, Waterman CM. J Cell Biol. 2008 Dec 15;183(6):999-1005. (PMID: 19075110)


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