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Mechanobiology Center

Welcome to the Vanderbilt Center on Mechanobiology (V-CoM)! 

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wafer The mission of this center is to bring together engineers, basic scientists, and clinicians to understand how mechanics integrates with  molecules, cells, and tissues to impact human health. We are training the next generation of researchers to tackle scientific problems in human health at the intersection of biology 
and mechanics.



The human body is much more than just a set of genes and proteins, and we now know that disease can be caused and promoted by factors beyond genetics. Almost every organ, tissue, and cell is exposed to mechanical forces, and these forces are integral to healthy cell function. Mechanobiology is the union of the more traditional fields of cell and molecular biology and mechanics. Understanding the role of mechanical forces and properties in medicine offers the potential to impact human health in news ways. It seeks to understand how cells respond to physical forces and how these forces affect tissue formation, degeneration and regeneration in both basic physiology and disease. Our understanding of mechanotransduction (how cells translate physical forces into chemical signals) is still developing, and has been proven to be critical in numerous physiological systems and disease states including cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and fibrosis. Mechanomedicine offers the ability to target disease based on the manipulation of the mechanical properties of molecules, cells and tissues, taking medicine into a new frontier.

Vanderbilt is at the forefront of mechanobiology research due to its close cooperation between engineering, medicine and basic biology. Mechanobiology at Vandy involves researchers from the School of Medicine Basic Sciences as well as the College of Arts and Sciences while being anchored in Engineering. Our researchers work across schools, colleges, departments and institutes at Vanderbilt. We benefit from world-class collaborations through numerous other Centers and Institutes at Vanderbilt including:

And we excel, in part, due to unparalleled access to numerous core facilities including (but not limited to):



Cynthia Reinhart-King, Co-Director

  • University Distinguished Professor
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor
  • Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Senior Associate Dean for Research, Engineering




Marija Zanic, Co-Director

  • Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, Chemical & Biomedical
    Engineering, and Biochemistry







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