The Unjamming Transition (UJT) is Fundamental to Wound Healing, Embryonic Development, and Cancer Invasion

April 22, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Jeffrey J. Fredberg, Ph.D

Dr. Jeffrey Fredberg's laboratory investigates physical processes expressed by the eukaryotic cell, such as its deformability, contractility, malleability, and motility. His team turned attention more recently from the single cell in isolation to the cellular collective as it might pertain, for example, to disruption of the bronchial epithelial layer in asthma or tumor invasion in breast cancer. To probe these physical processes at the levels of the single cell and the cellular collective, his team developeda series of novel microscale technologies that now include magnetic twisting cytometry, Fourier-transform traction microscopy, monolayer traction microscopy, and monolayer stress microscopy. Using this suite of technologies, the team was first to show that cells comprising an epithelial collective can jam much as do coffee beans that become jammed a chute. Or instead, they can unjam and migrate, invade and spread. Taken together, this body of work has illuminated relevant but poorly understood physical processes that underlie asthma, wound healing, development, and cancer. Dr. Fredberg has served on the scientific advisory committee of the Parker B. Frances Foundation, as a full time member on three standing NIH study sections (RAP/RIBT, program project HLBP, T32 institutional training mechanism NITM), and on two NIH committees (NSF/NIH interagency panel on Research at the Interface of Life and Physical Sciences; and the Study Section Boundary Team, Pulmonary Sciences IRG