Physics Colloquium - Professor M. Lisa Manning
January 28, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Conference Rooms 102A&B
Your body is amazing. The instructions for its construction are encoded in only two cells, yet trillions of cells have ended up in more or less the right place. So what governs the motion of cells inside a living organism, and what goes wrong in disease? It turns out that some of these questions can be answered by thinking of tissues in your body as a “living material”. A tissue’s material properties – whether it is a fluid or a solid, or whether it has surface tension – are key for its biological function. Therefore, an important open question is how single cells might control global properties, such as tissue fluidity. In normal materials, fluids can be turned into solids by changing the temperature or pressure. Cells can’t control these variables – instead they tune their stickiness and activity.
I will discuss a theoretical framework we have developed to describe how organisms might control the fluid-to-solid transition, and show that it makes useful predictions about experiments relevant to cancer, asthma, and developmental diseases.