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The Kumar Laboratory

Welcome to the home page of the Kumar Laboratory in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley!

We address problems in molecular cell dynamics and mechanics, with a focus on understanding how the cellular cytoskeleton governs cellular structure and senses and transduces mechanical inputs from the extracellular environment. We are especially interested in exploring these issues in the nervous system, including neuronal and glial tumors and adult neural stem cells. We take both "inside-out" and "outside-in" approaches, including: (1) Studying and manipulating the microscale assembly and mechanics of cytoskeletal networks in reconstituted and live-cell preparations; and (2) Fabricating extracellular matrices that present defined biophysical cues to cells and determining how these cues influence cell physiology. Our work takes advantage of optical and atomic force microscopy, subcellular laser ablation and photobleaching, microfabrication, traditional biochemical and cell biological methods, and computational tools.

An increasing number of micro- and nanotechnologies either subject cells to mechanical forces, require cells to be patterned into specific spatial arrangements, or both, including a wide variety of MEMS and microfluidic devices and tissue engineering systems. Moreover, many disease states are characterized by altered biophysical crosstalk between cells and their environment. Thus, in addition to building a fundamental understanding of cellular mechanobiology, we envision applying what we learn to contribute to the rational design of cellular biotechnology and to the development of new forms of therapy.

News and Announcements

March 2014: Sanjay receives support from the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center Sabbatical Exchange Program for his activities at UCSF.  Details here.

January 2014: We have a new publication in Science Translational Medicine: Kurpinski et al., Mastering Translational Medicine: Interdisciplinary Education for a New Generation.

January 2014: The lab is grateful to receive a research award from the W. M. Keck Foundation.  Details here.

November 2013: The lab is pleased to welcome Jessica (Jess) Lee, a Chemical Biology Ph.D. student who will be jointly advised by Prof. Matt Francis in Chemistry.  

November 2013: We have a new publication in Soft Matter: MacKay et al., Three-dimensional patterning of multiple cell populations through orthogonal genetic control of cell motility

October 2013: The lab is pleased to welcome Dr. Joanna Bechtel Dahl, an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology who will be jointly advised by Prof. Susan Muller in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.  

October 2013: We have a new publication in Chemical Communications: Acharya et al., A fluorescent peroxidase probe increases the sensitivity of commercial ELISAs by two orders of magnitude.

August 2013: Congratulations to Elena on winning a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) International Student Research Fellowship!  She was only one of 42 recipients nationally and will receive three years of significant financial support.  She is also featured prominently in the official HHMI press release and on the Berkeley BioE Department webpage.

July 2013: The lab is featured in a campus news story on the Amgen Scholars Program.

July 2013: George receives a Predoctoral Fellowship from UC Berkeley's NIH-sponsored Stem Cell Engineering Training Program. This competitive award includes up to two years of significant financial support, specialized courses in stem cell technology and bioethics, and a short industrial internship. Congratulations!

June 2013: We have a new publication in the Journal of Cell Science, featured on the cover and cited in Faculty of 1000: Chang and Kumar, Vinculin tension distributions of individual stress fibers within cell-matrix adhesions.

June 2013: We have a new publication in Integrative Biology: Pathak and Kumar, Transforming potential and matrix stiffness co-regulate confinement sensitivity of tumor cell migration.

June 2013: Joanna receives her Ph.D. and moves on to start a postdoctoral fellowship in the Hammer Lab at U Penn. Vai departs to start her first year of medical school at Albany Medical College. Congratulations and very best wishes to you both!

June 2013: We have a new publication in the Journal of Cell Science, featured on the cover: Chang and Kumar, Vinculin tension distributions of individual stress fibers within cell-matrix adhesions.

June 2013: Congratulations to Sophie for receiving a 2013-2014 Cancer Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) Predoctoral Fellowship!

May 2013: Congratulations to Jasmine for receiving the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postgraduate Scholarship!

May 2013: We have a new publication in Scientific Reports: Keung et al., Pan-neuronal maturation but not neuronal subtype differentiation of adult neural stem cells is mechanosensitive.

May 2013: Elena passes her qualifying exam and advances to Ph.D. candidacy. Congratulations, Elena!

May 2013: Jasmine Hughes, Mike Kang, and George Lin, first-year Ph.D. students in Bioengineering, have joined the lab for their thesis research. Welcome, Jasmine, Mike, and George!

April 2013: Yushan wins a Poster Award at the NCI Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers Network Investigators' Meeting. Congratulations!

April 2013: Congratulations to Badri for receiving a Travel Award to attend the 2013 MRS Spring Meeting and speak in a Symposium on Design of Cell-Instructive Materials.

March 2013: Congratulations to Katerina on receiving an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!

March 2013: We have a News and Views piece in Nature Nanotechnology about recent efforts to use nanomagnetics to control cytoskeletal assembly and cell migration.

January 2013: Andy is awarded an NIH NRSA (F32) Postdoctoral Fellowship. Congratulations!




Archive of past news and announcements from the Kumar Lab

Lab Meeting Schedule

Resources for lab members

The Kumar Laboratory gratefully acknowledges grant support from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Office, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, and the UCB Stem Cell Center and Hellman Faculty Fund.  We also gratefully acknowledge predoctoral fellowship support from the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense and postdoctoral fellowship support from the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program and the Human Frontier Science Program.