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Undergraduate and Graduate Studies

Physics Colloquium: Mohammad Mofrad (UC Berkeley)

February 5, 2016 - 6:30pm

Title: Molecular Biophysics of the Cell, from Focal Adhesions to Nuclear Pores

It is now widely established that living cells sense mechanical signals, and respond actively by changing their phenotype. Cellular mechanotransduction is mediated by a combination of biochemical and biophysical mechanisms via mechanically induced changes in the structure and function of specific molecules and molecular complexes. Our specific attention is on the role of three macromolecular systems in cellular mechanotransduction, namely the integrin-mediated focal adhesions bridging the cell with the extracellular matrix (ECM), and linkers of the nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton (LINC complexes), and the nuclear pore complex (NPC) at the interface between the cytoplasm and nucleus. Focal adhesions are the immediate sites of cell interaction with the ECM, and as such they play a key role in mechanosensing and mechanotransduction at the edge of the cell. LINC complexes physically link the cytoskeleton and nucleoskeleton to regulate force transmission to the nucleus; their direct associations with focal adhesions through filamentous actin bundles results in ultrafast mechanotransduction. Nuclear pores could also play a role in the overall process of cellular mechanotransduction by exquisitely controlling the material transport in and out of the nucleus, thereby regulating gene expression and protein synthesis. In this talk, I will present some of our recent efforts aimed at better understanding of these interconnected molecular systems in the context of cellular mechanotransduction.

Mohammad R. K. Mofrad is professor of Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering at the University of California Berkeley, where he is the director of Molecular Cell Biomechanics Laboratory ( and a faculty scientist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Dr. Mofrad received his B.A.Sc. degree from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, before moving to Canada where he completed the Master’s and PhD programs at the Universities of Waterloo and Toronto, respectively. After post-doctoral work at MIT and Harvard Medical School, he joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 2005. His research program at Berkeley encompasses the development of molecular and multiscale models of cell mechanobiology, with the ultimate aim to shed light on human cardiovascular diseases.

Every Friday 10:45-11:45 a.m., COB 267 (except as noted). Tea and cookies will be served from 10:30 - 10:45 a.m. Questions regarding the seminar series should be directed to Prof. Bin Liu