Mechanics of Cells and Polymer Networks: Bridging Theory, Simulation and Experiment (23w5120)


(Rochester Institute of Technology)

(The Ohio State University)

Paul Janmey (University of Pennsylvania)

Fred MacKintosh (Rice University)

(University of Michigan)


The Banff International Research Station will host the "Mechanics of Cells and Polymer Networks: Bridging Theory, Simulation and Experiment" workshop in Banff from September 10 to September 15, 2023.

The interface between biology and quantitative disciplines including physics, mathematics and engineering is rapidly expanding. This is the result of many factors, but is largely driven by higher resolution spatial and temporal data from cutting edge imaging techniques, and increasing success in applying physical modeling techniques to biological problems. Mechanobiology is an especially rapidly developing field at the quantitative biology interface. This field describes how force is generated in biological systems, how force impacts chemistry, and how force generation is controlled by intracellular signaling pathways. Numerous feedforward and feedback interactions connect forces in cells to the dynamics of proteins and gene expression, resulting in highly nonlinear systems with complex and often non-intuitive behaviours.

Using what we know and understand about forces in biological systems, there has been a new class of materials developed by linking together large stiff polymers at minimal junction sites that just ensure that they make a continuous network in two or three dimensions. The responses of these fibrous networks to deforming forces are very different from the deformations of conventional soft materials that are made by much more flexible polymers. Inspired by biological systems that determine cell and soft tissue mechanics, these fibrous networks can be made synthetically and tailored to many new applications such as sensors, and active materials that self-heal or conform to complex contours. This workshop will bring together theorists, mathematicians, and experimentalists working with fibrous networks to facilitate collaborations between experiment and theory, test new theoretical models, and integrate efforts to understand existing fibrous networks and develop new ones with properties tailored for specific purposes.

The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is a collaborative Canada-US-Mexico venture that provides an environment for creative interaction as well as the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the Mathematical Sciences, with related disciplines and with industry. The research station is located at The Banff Centre in Alberta and is supported by Canada's Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alberta's Advanced Education and Technology, and Mexico's Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT).