Soft Condensed Matter Seminar

Soft Condensed Matter Seminar

Feeling for cell function — Mechanical phenotyping at 1,000 cells/sec


February 8, 2019 - 11:00am to 12:00pm




CHOA Seminar Room 1st Floor


Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Guck Division


Jochen Guck received his PhD in Physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001. After being a junior group leader at the University of Leipzig, Germany, he moved to the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University, UK, as a Lecturer in 2007 and was promoted to Reader in 2009. In 2012 he became Professor of Cellular Machines at the Technische Universität Dresden, Germany. As of October last year he is now director at the Max-Planck Institute for the Science of Light and the Max-Planck Center for Physics and Medicine in Erlangen, Germany. His research centers on the investigation of the physical properties of cells and tissues in order to test their biological importance. The ultimate goal is the transfer of findings to medical application. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications and four patents. His work has been recognized by several awards, including the Cozzarelli Award in 2008, the Paterson Prize in 2011, and an Alexander-von-Humboldt Professorship in 2012.


The mechanical properties of cells have long been heralded as a label-free, inherent marker of biological function in health and disease. Wide-spread utilization has so far been impeded by the lack of a simple and convenient measurement technique with sufficient throughput. To address this need, we have introduced real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC) for the continuous mechanical single-cell characterization of large populations (> 100,000 cells) with analysis rates up to 1,000 cells/s, approaching that of conventional fluorescence-based flow cytometers. Using RT-DC we can sensitively detect cytoskeletal alterations, distinguish cell cycle phases, track hematopoietic stem cell differentiation into distinct lineages and characterize cell‑populations in whole blood by their mechanical fingerprint. Our results indicate that cell mechanics can define cell function, can be used as an inherent cell marker and could serve as target for novel therapies. Mechanical phenotyping adds a new functional, marker-free dimension to flow cytometry with diverse applications in biology, biotechnology and medicine.