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David A. Weitz

Universal correlation between stiffness and volume of living cells

Thursday May 5, 4:30-5:30pm, Building 530 Room 217


The stiffness of cells is commonly assumed to depend on the stiffness of their surrounding: bone cells are much stiffer than neurons, and each exists in surrounding tissue that matches the cell stiffness.  In this talk, I will discuss new measurements of cell stiffness, and show that that cell stiffness is strongly correlated to cell volume.  This affects both the mechanics and the gene expression in the cell, and even impacts the differentiation of stem cells.  Finally, I will also discuss new measurement techniques that probe the consequences of the cell stiffness on internal cell dynamics.



Weitz received his PhD in physics from Harvard University and then joined Exxon Research and Engineering Company, where he worked for nearly 18 years.  He then became a professor of physics at the University of Pennsylvania and moved to Harvard at the end of the last millennium as professor of physics and applied physics.  He leads a group studying soft matter science with a focus on materials science, biophysics and microfluidics.   He is director of Harvard’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, funded by the National Science Foundation.  Several startup companies have come from his lab to commercialize research concepts.