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Bioenergetics of Cell Migration

Primary Investigators:
Cynthia Reinhart-King
 
Brief Description of Project:
Invasive cell migration contributes to cancer metastasis, which is the most lethal aspect of cancer. Cell migration requires the coordination of ATP energy-powered cellular machinery for adhesion to and detachment from the extracellular matrix, force generation within the cells and transmitted to the matrix, turnover of cytoskeleton, and deformation of the cell shape. Hence, the regulation of cellular energy production is critical for cell migration and cancer invasion. The Reinhart-King lab is the first to directly connect cellular bioenergetics to cancer cell migration in 3D. In this project, we will further investigate this relationship using both single cells and tumor spheroids in 3D matrices and uncover the underlying molecular mechanism.

Desired Qualifications:
Highly motivated students interested in research with some background in general biology. Wet laboratory skills, some experience with cell culture techniques, and familiarity with MATLAB and ImageJ, are beneficial but not required.
 
Nature of Supervision:
Weekly lab group meetings and biweekly individual meeting with PI. Day-to-day supervision and mentoring will be provided by a postdoc in the lab.
 
A Brief Research Plan (period is for 10 weeks):
Students will be involved in culturing and imaging breast cancer cells in 3D matrices. A multitude of methods will be used to modulate the ATP energy level in the cells. Microscopic images will be analyzed in an automated or semi-automated manner to identify the relationship between ATP energy and cell migration. Following that, specific cell migration pathways will be investigated with genetic or pharmacological intervention.
 
Number of Open Slots: 1
 
Contact Information:
Name: Cynthia Reinhart-King
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Email: Cynthia.reinhart-king@vanderbilt.edu