“Can we herd cells in tissues
like shepherds and sheepdogs herd sheep?”
A tissue is a large community of interacting cells that exhibit complex community behaviors reminiscent of flocks of birds, crowds of people, and herds of sheep. These collective behaviors among individual cells are absolutely crucial for complex multicellular life (e.g. us), with cells coordinating their motion, making decisions, and generally interacting during everything from embryonic development to injury healing.
Our lab is using ‘swarm engineering’ to allow us to control some of these cellular collective behaviors in order to better understand, build, and heal tissues.
This is an exciting approach that allows us to draw on approaches across disciplines such as biomaterials, swarm theory, soft matter physics, cell biology, control theory, social behavior, mechanobiology, and bioelectricity. Take a look at our research page for more information!