Illinois Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology and Nano-CEMMS: A Hard Day in the Life of a Soft Cell

By Jeffrey Fredberg

Harvard University

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AHard Day in the Life of a Soft Cell

With every beat of the heart, inflation of the lung, or peristalsis of the gut, cell types of diverse function are subjected to substantial stretch. But what physical laws govern the abilities of the cytoskeleton to deform, contract, and remodel at the nanoscale? New data support the idea that the cytoskeleton is at once a crowded chemical space and a fragile soft material in which the effects of biochemistry, molecular crowding, and physical forces are complex and Inseparable, yet conspire nonetheless to yield remarkably simple phenomenological laws. These laws appear to be universal and thus comprise a striking intersection between the worlds of cell biology and soft matter physics


  • Introduction
  • A new question: Cell a fragile object?
  • Fluidization Response
  • Failuer to Fluidize
  • What is going on here, anyways?
  • Clutch Dynamics
  • Weak bonds, soft matter and CSK
  • Structural rearrangements: macro-scale
  • Physical Material - Spatial Template
  • Demise of Consensus Model - Crisis
  • Where do we live in the stiffness universe
  • Soft material, Hard facts
  • If everything were lock and key, cascades, biology would be pretty fragile
  • fluidization vs. reinforcement
  • isotropic biaxial displacement
  • QCQ (Quantitative Controllabe Quick)
  • Physical forces during collective cell migration
  • Evolution of technology
  • Follow the leader? Physical forces during collective cell migration
  • A confluence of energy scales


Jeffrey J. Fredberg, Ph.D.
Professor of Bioengineering and Physiology Molecular & Integrative Physiological Sciences
Harvard School of Public Health


This lecture was breezed and uploaded by Omar Sobh

Sponsored by

Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory
Center for Nano Scale Science and Technology
Siteman Center of Cancer Nanotechnology and Excellence
Illinois co-location Center for Cellular Mechanics
Network for Computational Nanotechnology at Illinois

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Jeffrey Fredberg (2009), "Illinois Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology and Nano-CEMMS: A Hard Day in the Life of a Soft Cell,"

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