Outside-In. Strain stiffening as a key to cell control (2017–2022)
In any multicellular organisms, the extracellular matrix (ECM) provides cells with essential mechanical (such as
strain stiffening) and biochemical support. The ECM is also critical for biological processes inside the cell, such as proliferation, differentiation and migration. Exactly how the physical and chemical properties of ECMs on the
outside modify the behaviour of a cell on the inside remains unclear. This Laureate program aims to unravel the
highly complex mechanical behaviour of the extracellular matrix, and in doing so, develop a whole new class of
sophisticated and responsive ECM materials. Outcomes will include a blueprint for synthetic ECMs, pushing the
boundaries of materials development in the biological and life sciences.