Cellular and Molecular Mechanotransduction (UG)

Module aims

To introduce the application of engineering principles and approaches towards the study of biomechanics and mechanotransduction in biology, bridging between the molecular, cellular, and tissue level scales, as relevant for biology, physiology, and medicine.

This includes a comprehensive and advanced analysis of cell function with emphasis in sub-cellular structures and functions involved in the processes by which cells transform mechanical stimuli into biochemical signalling. The course will also explore how mechanical forces affect the interaction of molecules.

Specific Aims:

  1. To enable analysis of how mechanical forces regulate biological and physiological function
  2. To understand mechanotransduction in physiological and pathological scenarios
  3. To allow understanding of the techniques recently developed to mechanically manipulate biological entities
  4. To understand the effect of mechanical forces over multiple length scales, bridging molecular, cellular and tissue-level biomechanics.

Learning outcomes

Learning Outcomes - Knowledge and Understanding

  • To understand the basic concepts of mechanotransduction in biology
  • To understand mechanotransduction across several levels of organisation in physiological and pathological processes
  • To describe basic principles of techniques used in biomechanics research

Learning Outcomes - Intellectual Skills

  • To analyse/discuss cellular processes from a biomechanical perspective
  • To evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of current techniques used to mechanically manipulate cells and molecules
  • To evaluate the utility of biomechanical models to understand cell and tissue structure and function

Learning Outcomes - Practical Skills

  • Understand how mechanical forces affect the functions of molecules and cells

Learning Outcomes - Transferable Skills

  • To deliver clear written communication
  • To develop skills in critical reading of scientific literature

Module syllabus

  • Introduction to Mechanobiology
  • The cytoskeleton in cells
  • Main molecular signalling pathways involved in cell biomechanics
  • Subcellular structures and  molecules relevant to  mechanobiology
  • Mechanosensing, mechanotransduction, and mechanosignalling
  • Techniques for mechanical manipulation of cells
  • Mechanotransduction across different length scales
  • Cellular mechanotransduction
  • Molecular mechanotransduction
  • Mechanotransduction in health and disease
  • Biomechanics of stem cells
  • Biomechanics of pancreatic cancer
  • Biomechanics of liver cancer
  • Biomechanics of breast cancer

Teaching methods

Teaching Methods
Lectures: 12 hours
Workshop: 13 hours
Tutorials: 11 hours

Examinations:
●  Written exam: ; 100% weighting
    Rubrics: Final exam will include 3 compulsory questions. All questions must be answered. Weighting 100%. 2h duration.
    No type of previous exam answers or solutions will be available

Feedback : Feedback given immediately during study groups.

Assessments

Overall performance against all LOs in the module will be assessed by a final exam in the summer term.

Written exam: 3 compulsory questions

No type of previous exam answers or solutions will be available

Exam rubric: Final exam will include 3 compulsory questions. All questions must be answered. Weighting 100%. 2h duration.

Feedback : Feedback given immediately during study groups.

Module leaders

Dr Armando Del Rio Hernandez