Michael Smith, Ph.D.
Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies
“Coupling of mechanical and biological functions of the extracellular matrix”
Cells in vivo are woven together within a fibrous material termed the extracellular matrix that mechanically supports tissues during mechanical loading. Fibronectin fibers are a provisional component of the extracellular matrix that appear in tissues during periods of dynamic change, for example during development and disease progression, and these fibers are both highly extensible and actively stretched by cells. However, fibronectin also displays a number of binding sites for cell adhesion molecules and soluble signaling factors, and fibronectin also regulates and is absolutely necessary for many physiological processes, indicating that it provides both biological and mechanical functions to tissues. This talk will present multidisciplinary efforts demonstrating that mechanicalforces alter the biological signaling properties of fibronectin matrix, supporting the hypothesis that the biological function of fibronectin can be mechanically actuated. Thus, fibronectin appears to be a member of a growing list of proteins that can actively transduce mechanical stress into chemical signals sensed by cells.
Michael Smith received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Memphis and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia. Michael is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies in Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, which he joined in 2008 after a postdoctoral fellowship in Materials Science at the ETH Zurich.