In this talk I will discuss the development of functional materials and their application in modulating the biological microenvironment during cellular sensing and signal transduction. First, I’ll briefly summarize the mechanical, biochemical and physicochemical material properties that influence cellular sensing and subsequent integration with the tissues at the macroscale. Controlling signal transduction at the submicron scale, however, requires careful materials engineering to address the need for minimally invasive targeting of single proteins and for providing sufficient physical stimuli for cellular signaling. I will discuss an approach to fabricate anisotropic magnetite nanodiscs (MNDs) which can be used as torque transducers to mechanosensory cells under weak, slowly varying magnetic fields (MFs). When MNDs are coupled to MFs, their magnetization transitions between a vortex and in-plane state, leading to torques on the pN scale, sufficient to activate mechanosensitive ion channels in neuronal cell membranes. This approach opens new avenues for studies of biological mechanoreception and provides new tools for minimally invasive neuromodulation technology.
Biography: Danijela Gregurec completed her PhD in the group of Dr. Moya at the CIC biomagune center and the Univeristy of the Basque Country, Spain, focusing on the development of advanced implant materials and mechanistic studies at bio-inorganic interfaces. She is currently a postdoctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology working with Prof. Anikeeva on developing innovative magnetic neural interfaces. Her research interests span from tool engineering for cellular control to elucidating biophysical interfacial mechanisms of cellular signalling in nervous system.