Mechanobiology Center

Mission Statement

The mission of the Vanderbilt Center on Mechanobiology is to bring together engineers and basic scientists to understand how mechanics integrates with molecules, cells, and tissues to impact human health and technology. We are training the next generation of researchers to tackle scientific problems at the intersection of biology and mechanics.


Mechanobiology is a cross-disciplinary field at the interface of biology, physics and engineering that seeks to provide fundamental insight into how mechanical forces drive cellular processes. 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 are exposed to mechanical forces, and these forces are integral to healthy cellular function.

Elucidating the role of mechanical forces at molecular, cellular and tissue levels offers the potential to impact human health in news ways. 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. Research in mechanobiology aims to uncover how cells respond to physical forces and how these forces affect tissue formation, degeneration and regeneration in both basic physiology and disease. Furthermore, 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.

Mechanobiology also impacts biotechnologies from catalysis to biomanufacturing, bioconversion and sustainable energy production. Mechanobiology principles lead to new materials, new forms of manufacturing, sensing and sustainability practices.

Vanderbilt is at the forefront of mechanobiology research due to its close cooperation between basic sciences, engineering and medicine. The Vanderbilt Center on Mechanobiology (V-CoM) brings together researchers who work across schools, departments and institutes.

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):

Leadership and Faculty

Members of the Vanderbilt Center on Mechanobiology (V-CoM) come from across the University to address biological questions rooted in mechanics. This works stretches from the study of the signaling of individual molecules to the assembly and maintenance of tissues. It spans from basic science, hypothesis-driven questions to the translation of devices and platforms to help study and treat disease. 

Marija Zanic

Marija Zanic, Co-Director

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

Related Research: The Zanic lab studies the dynamics and mechanics of the microtubule cytoskeleton.

Matt Lang

Matthew J. Lang, Co-Director

  • Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Related Research:  Lang Lab

Contact Us

Center Email:

Marija Zanic, Center Co-Director 

Matthew Lang, Center Co-Director

Emily Rampe, Center Admin. Assistant

Mailing Address:
PMB 351631
Nashville, TN 37235

Campus Address:
Vanderbilt University
550 Engineering Sciences Building
2414 Highland Ave
Nashville, TN, 37212

School of Engineering

School of Medicine Basic Sciences

College of Arts and Science