Amy E. Shyer
A Multi-Scale Analysis of Mechanics during Skeletal Morphogenesis
In the last several decades, tremendous progress has been made in discovering genes and molecular processes that regulate tissue morphogenesis. However, despite an increasing appreciation of master molecular regulators and their interactions, a concrete mechanistic understanding of how they lead to form remains incomplete, and as a result, regenerative medicine is still a very slim portion of medical care. The guiding thesis for the lab is that significant progress will require integrating molecular advances with an understanding of the mechanical events that occur at cellular, multicellular, and tissue scales. My lab brings such a mechanical perspective to the study of embryogenesis and pathogenesis in the hopes of making contributions in both fundamental and applied contexts.
1. Investigate skin morphogenesis to discover core processes of multicellular mechanics
It is becoming increasingly clear that collective cell dynamics, or multicellular mechanics, critically link molecular processes to tissue level morphologies. The simple and regular nature of follicle pattern in the skin provides an approachable context for grasping the complexity inherent in multicellular dynamics. My lab is developing novel ex vivo assays that reconstitute these multicellular events so that they can be perturbed and measured at high resolution.
2. Link mechanical events across molecular, cellular, and tissue level scales in skeletal morphogenesis
The developing skeleton in the limb is a classic model organ system where mechanical events must be considered across molecular, cellular, and tissue level scales. In doing so, my lab hopes to answer key unsolved questions in skeletal development such as how molecular symmetry is broken to initiate chondrogenesis and how a pattern of bones develops.
3. Explore multicellular mechanical processes at play during tumor morphogenesis
Mechanical events are likely critical during aberrant tissue (tumor) formation as much as they are during normal tissue construction. My lab applies fundamental principles of mechanics uncovered during the study of development to questions of tumorigenesis. In particular we are focussed on the collective mechanical behavior of the cells of the tumor microenvironment.