Yuan-Cheng (Bert) Fung Lecture

Date: Friday, February 11, 2011 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Location: 101 Guggenheim Lab, Lees-Kubota Lecture Hall
Reception to follow in the Guggenheim Lobby
Speaker: Professor Huajian Gao, Walter H. Annenberg Professor, Brown University

This lecture is given in honor of Dr. Yuan-Cheng (Bert) Fung (PhD 1948, Ae), Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego and a faculty member of GALCIT from 1948 to 1966. He is the father of modern biomechanics and has made pioneering contributions to mechanics of microcirculation, heart, lung and blood vessels, and growth, healing and remodeling of tissue.

The Yuan-Cheng (Bert) Fung Lecture is made possible through a generous gift from Caltech alumni Drs. Jain-Ming (James) Wu (MS'59, PhD'65 Ae) and Ying-Chu Lin (Susan) Wu (PhD'63 Ae) who carried out their doctoral research in GALCIT. Through this lecture they honor a professor who has made significant impact in their lives.

View the Fung lecture featuring Professor Huajian Gao

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Probing Mechanical Principles of Cell-Material Interactions

With rapid advances in both biological and physical sciences, there exists unprecedented opportunities and promises at the interface between solid mechanics and cellular/molecular biology, as novel materials fabrication, characterization, testing, and multiscale simulation and modeling tools and techniques are being used to address urgent issues in biology, medicine, engineering, and society. In this talk, I will discuss some recent studies from my research group on cell-material interactions, including the mechanics of cellular uptake of nanoparticles by receptor-mediated endocytosis and coarse-grained molecular dynamics methods capable of detailed molecular mechanics simulations of complete lipid bilayer segments interacting with nanoparticles, as well as stochastic-elastic modeling of cell-matrix interaction. Discussions will be organized around the following questions: Why and how does cellular uptake of nanoparticles depend on the particle size, shape, aspect ratio and elasticity? Why is there a micron-scale size limit on focal adhesions in cell-matrix interaction? Why do many cells prefer stiffer substrates? Why is there an optimal stiffness of substrate for cell motility? With these questions in mind, the talk will discuss mechanisms by which nanoparticles can enter cells, and how cells can sense mechanical properties of their surroundings and actively control adhesion and deadhesion via cytoskeletal contractile machinery.

Huajian Gao

Walter H. Annenberg Professor, Brown University
Huajian Gao

Huajian Gao received his BS degree from Xian Jiaotong University of China in 1982, and his MS and PhD degrees in Engineering Science from Harvard University in 1984 and 1988, respectively. He served on the faculty of Stanford University between 1988 and 2002, where he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1994 and to Full Professor in 2000. He served as a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research between 2001 and 2006 before joining the Faculty of Brown University in 2006. At present, he is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Engineering at Brown.

Professor Gao’s research is focused on the understanding of basic principles that control mechanical properties and behaviors of materials in both engineering and biology. He is an author/co-author of more than 250 scientific papers with more than 9000 citations. He is co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids (2006), the flagship journal of his field. He is also the recipient of numerous academic honors ranging from a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1995 to the Robert Henry Thurston Lecture Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 2009.