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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Harley co-editor of book on interactions between cells and their local extracellular environment

Amy Wagoner Johnson, mechanical science and engineering, and Brendan Harley, chemical and biomolecular engineering, are co-editors of a new book, just published by Springer, that focuses on characterization and modeling of interactions between cells and their local extracellular environment.

Mechanobiology of Cell-Cell and Cell-Matrix Interactions focuses on characterization and modeling of interactions between cells and their local extracellular environment, exploring how these interactions may mediate cell behavior.  Studies of cell-matrix interactions rely on integrating engineering, (molecular and cellular) biology, and imaging disciplines.

Recent advances in the field have begun to unravel  our understanding of how cells gather information from their surrounding environment, and how they interrogate such information during the cell fate decision making process. Topics include adhesive and integrin-ligand interactions; extracellular influences on cell biology and behavior; cooperative mechanisms of cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions; the mechanobiology of pathological processes; (multi-scale) modeling approaches to describe the complexity or cell-matrix interactions;  and quantitative methods required for such experimental and modeling studies.

This peer-reviewed book came about as a result of the Society of Engineering Science 45th Annual Technical Meeting  held in 2008 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The meeting brought together researchers from around the world who share the belief that the solutions to critical modern problems transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and require the combined efforts of scientists, engineers and mathematicians from diverse disciplines working together.

Wagoner Johnson and Harley organized a symposium (Mechanobiology of Cell-Extracellular Matrix Interactions) at the meeting, which focused on interdisciplinary research involving both experimental and modeling approaches to understanding the mechanisms of how individual or populations of cells respond to distinct extracellular cues.

The book is organized into four technical sections that roughly reflect the organization of technical sessions at the SES symposium: Mechanisms of cell adhesion and mechanotransduction; cooperative cell behavior and mechanobiology; mechano-pathology of disease; and tools for exploring mechanobiology.