Recently, we have also been interested in the dynamics of the cytoskeleton and nucleus in skeletal muscle cells. The generation of in vitro skeletal muscle has gained significant interest recently, especially in the context of the production of lab-grown meats. We seek to study the biophysical mechanisms of myotube formation, by developing computational models to simulate microtubule (MT) dynamics in nuclear centration and nuclear spreading, two essential nuclear positioning processes involved in myotube formation by myoblast fusion (see Fig. 2). We hope that understanding of such mechanisms will enable us to optimize myotube formation for lab-grown meat production. In addition to cell biological studies, we are also interested in biophysics in a clinical context. In particular, we are interested in developing novel technologies to alleviate pressure ulcers. Pressure ulcers develop in patients such as the bedridden, immobile or paralyzed, who lie on the bed for long periods of time and are unable to shift their body positions or move at all. The pressure exerted on the skin and the surrounding soft tissues over bony prominences (shoulders, sacrum, heels) can be so high that tissue ischaemia, hypoxia, inflammation and necrosis occur. We are interested in designing novel technologies to alleviate pressure ulcer formation.
Chiam Keng Hwee is a theorist working at the interface of physics and biology, collaborating very closely with experimental groups in developing theories and models for a variety of problems in mechanobiology and biological physics, systems biology, and biological fluid mechanics. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 2003 and his B.S.E. in physics from the University of Michigan in 1997.
Keng Hwee's group uses a combination of biophysical and bioinformatics tools to study cell migration. Cell migration is a critical process in every living organism, central to, for example, the morphogenesis of embryos, formation of tissues and organs, wound repair, as well as in less welcoming scenarios such as cancer metastasis. Some of their current projects include the study of amoeboid modes of cancer cell invasion, collective modes of epithelial cell sheet migration, and swimming and swarming modes of bacterial cell motility.
He hopes that their approach will enable them to identify potential targets to perturb cell migration, which can eventually be translated into drugs to stop cancer cell invasion, promote wound and skin healing, or stop the aggregation of bacterial cells into biofilms.
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