[Illinois] CMMB IGERT & M-CNTC Annual Symposium: Detection of Mass, Growth Rate, and Stiffness of Single Adherent Cells

By Elise Corbin

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Recently, improved MEMS resonator sensors were developed at Illinois. These can be used to directly measure the biophysical properties, mass, and growth rate of single adherent cells. Decoupling the relationship between the cell's dynamics and the apparent mass reported by the sensor is vital. Hydrogels with tunable stiffness and mass are used to achieve higher understanding of the measurement system.

In this video, Elise discusses this project and the associated technology. She discusses the challenges of using this technology in an array to sense biophysical properties of cells, as well as the opportunities provided for those studies. She also discusses the future plans for the research including studying the change in neuronal mass through the cell cycle.


Elise Corbin is originally from the Philadelphia area. She received her B.S. in engineering science at the Pennsylvania State University in 2007. During her undergraduate career she was a research assistant for both the Fuel Cell Dynamics and Diagnostics Lab and the Applied Research Lab, supervised by Dr. Matthew Mench. At the University of Illinois she joined the Nanoscale Thermal Processing Lab directed by Dr. William P. King. She received her M.S. in mechanical engineering in 2009, and her thesis was, "Substrate Dependance, Temperature Dependance, and Temperature Sensitivity and Resolution of Doped-Silicon Microcantilevers." Her research interests include bio-sensing on the nano-scale and together with her co-advisor Dr. Rashid Bashir she will be continuing toward her Ph.D. working on cell mass sensing techniques and devices.

From Elise Corbin's Trainee profile

Sponsored by

Midwest Cancer Nanotechnology Traning Center (M-CNTC) Training the next generation of leaders who will define the new frontiers and applications of nanotechnology in cancer research It is known that more than 1.5 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer during 2010, and half a million have died (Cancer Statistics 2010, ACS). In spite of considerable effort, there has been limited success in reducing per capita deaths from cancer since 1950. This calls for a paradigm shift in the understanding, detection, and intervention of the evolution of cancer from a single cell to tumor scale.

In response to this challenge the M-CNTC has assembled a preeminent interdisciplinary team of researchers and educators across the University of Illinois and clinical collaborators in the Midwest to train the next generation of engineers, physical scientists, and biologists to address the challenge of understanding, managing, diagnosing, and treating cancer using the most recent advancements in nanotechnology.

Cellular and Molecular Mechanics and Bionanotechnology (CMMB-IGERT) Training the next generation of leaders who will define the new frontiers of cellular and molecular mechanics and bionanotechnology Critical experiments during the last decade show a fundamental link between the micro- and macro-mechanical environment (i.e., intracellular forces, local shear, gravitational force) and a variety of cell functionalities, their lineage, and phenotype. These findings pose the grand challenge: what is the underlying molecular mechanism that cells employ to transduce mechanical signals to biochemical pathways?

In response to this challenge the CMMB IGERT launched an interdisciplinary research effort with national and international collaborators.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Elise Corbin (2013), "[Illinois] CMMB IGERT & M-CNTC Annual Symposium: Detection of Mass, Growth Rate, and Stiffness of Single Adherent Cells," http://nanohub.org/resources/14050.

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Charlie Newman, NanoBio Node

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign