"Everything in biology is mechanical." – Julio Fernandez
The importance of mechanical forces in cell biology, in addition to chemical and genes, is increasingly appreciated.
The BioMAN Lab is interested in uncovering the fundamental physical forces that govern how cells generate, detect, and respond to mechanical forces at the molecular level. We are using DNA origami scaffolds, protein engineering, tension sensing peptides, super-resolution microscopy, and cryoEM techniques to measure tension in vitro and in vivo.
"What I cannot create, I do not understand." – Richard Feynman
Our lab is using DNA nanostructures to reconstruct mechanically-functional biomolecular systems while capturing their spatial and mechanical contexts.
These biologically, spatially, and mechanically-relevant reconstituted systems are amenable to mathematically-rigorous, physically-sound, and highly-predictive modeling.
The Mechanobiology of Malaria Parasite Invasion
The initial theme of our lab will focus on the mechanical interactions that power and guide malaria parasite invasion. Malaria, an infectious disease caused by deadly Plasmodium parasites, is a global health concern. In 2013, malaria was responsible for ~200 million cases and claimed >500,000 lives, which is equivalent to ~1 death per minute.
Finally, our lab will put these knowledge to work. From the biomedical translational standpoint, we envision the reconstituted system as the base of low-cost high-throughput drug screening tools for malaria remedies that target unique biophysical features of malaria host-cell invasion. With respect to technology development, the proposed research program will also develop transformative molecular tools that can be broadly used to dissect other systems in molecular biology.