Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Biomedical Engineering

Major Professor

Mingjun Zhang

Committee Members

William R. Hamel, Jindong Tan, Mei-Zhen Cui

Abstract

While a great deal of work has been done to analyze cardiac dynamics and mechanics at the organ and tissue levels, there remains much less data regarding these metrics at the single cell level. Additionally, as fields such as regenerative medicine and tissue engineering are beginning to demonstrate greater therapeutic potential, the study and influence of stem cell mechanics on differentiation has become a major area of interest. For these reasons, along with the continued advancement of molecular techniques and assays, there is a growing need to develop functional assays that can integrate and bridge the findings from multiple length scales, incorporating important physical cues with ongoing molecular studies.

In this work, we have utilized various experimental techniques to quantify the altered mechanics and dynamics of individual cardiomyocytes and stem cells in association with various aspects of pathophysiology, toxin exposure, and stem cell differentiation. Through the completion of single cell studies, we have been able to draw significant insight and further relate various components of cellular mechanobiology, such as time-dependent mechanical cues and altered dynamics, with more physiologically relevant and translational research objectives.

Although much more work is still needed, it is clear that this area of research has the potential to impact future studies in a variety of biomedical applications, opening up the possibilities of what can be accomplished with the use of single cell studies and the developing significance of cellular biophysics.

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