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Webinar: Forces in Cell Biology

Chemical and electrical signals are well known to contribute to the growth and development of an organism; recently, there has been an emerging focus on another cue that can inform cellular development: physical force. Cells are pushed, pulled, and squeezed as they undergo biological processes such as cell division, migration, and morphogenetic events, and exciting recent work is identifying the role such forces play in governing cell function. Forces can be intrinsic to the cell and involved in maintaining molecular structures or cell shape, such as when chromosomes are held together at the spindle and then tugged apart during cell division by microtubule dynamics and motor proteins, or during migration when the actin cytoskeleton pushes against the leading edge while contractile forces pull the cell forward. Extrinsic forces can serve as cues allowing cells to register and respond to their environment, such as when migrating over adhesive contacts in the extracellular matrix or when squeezing into place next to a neighbour during formation of an epithelial sheet.

While the mechanisms governing the dynamics of physical forces within the cell have not been exhaustively described, what is clear is that from the molecular to the organismal level force is a key aspect of biological function, and in recent years biologists have collaborated with physicists, mathematicians and chemists to increase our understanding of the molecular mechanics behind biological processes. In this webinar, we’ll hear from experts who are bridging the gap between biology and physics to look at forces inside the cell at the mitotic spindle, at the cell membrane during cell migration, and between cells within a tissue during embryonic morphogenesis.


Topics & Tags

Table of Content

Who should attend

The webinar topic will be of wide appeal to biologists from any discipline, particularly molecular biologists, cell biologists, developmental biologists and biophysicists, and will also be of interest to physicists that are working on forces in a biological context.

During the webinar, viewers will:

  • Hear from our panel of experts about how force applies to specific aspects of cell function.
  • Learn how the role of forces can be considered when approaching a biological problem.
  • Have the opportunity to ask questions of our panelists in real time.

In association with


Tarun Kapoor, Ph.D.

Pels Family Professor
, Laboratory of Chemistry and Cell Biology, Rockefeller University, New York

Gaudenz Danuser, Ph.D.

Professor of Cell Biology Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston

Jennifer Zallen, Ph.D.

Head of the Morphogenesis and Polarity Laboratory, Developmental Biology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York