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
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!
December 2012: Amit moves on to start his new appointment as Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Washington University in St. Louis. Congratulations and best wishes, Professor Pathak!
December 2012: The lab is thrilled to welcome Katerina Georgiou, a first-year Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering PhD student.
December 2012: Sanjay receives the Stem Cells Young Investigator Award. The award is based in part on our 2011 Stem Cells paper on mechanobiological regulation of neural stem cell lineage commitment with co-authors Albert Keung, Elena de Juan Pardo, and David Schaffer. Details here.
November 2012: We have a new publication in Methods in Molecular Biology: MacKay and Kumar, Measuring the elastic properties of living cells with atomic force microscopy indentation.
November 2012: Joanna receives a very competitive Travel Award from the Biophysical Society to attend their 2013 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. Congratulations!
November 2012: The lab is pleased to welcome Dr. Claudia Schmidt, who recently completed her Ph.D. at ETH-Zurich and will be conducting a DAAD Postdoctoral Fellowship with us through spring 2013.
October 2012: Congratulations to Badri, who has been awarded a CIRM postdoctoral fellowship for 2013!
August 2012: The lab receives a Samsung Global Research Outreach Award for its work on the mechanobiology of brain tumors. Details here.
August 2012: We have a new publication in Integrative Biology - Keung et al., Soft microenvironments promote the early neurogenic differentiation but not self-renewal of human pluripotent stem cells.
July 2012: Sanjay is elected Chair of the UC Berkeley-UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering.
June 2012: We have a new publication in PNAS - Pathak and Kumar, Independent regulation of tumor cell migration by matrix stiffness and confinement.
Archive of past news and announcements from the Kumar Lab