Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research & Technology

Biosystems and Micromechanics

#04-13/14 Enterprise Wing and #B-101
Singapore 138602

BioSystems and Micromechanics (BioSyM) - IRG

BioSyM Research

One organizing theme of research in the BioSyM program is that mechanical forces and interactions are critical regulators and indicators of molecular, cellular, and tissue functions. It is now widely recognized, for example, that mechanical signaling pathways operate in parallel with biochemical ones in regulating biological function. This mechanical/biochemical coupling in biology offers diverse opportunities to diagnose, intervene, and control biological outcomes from the molecular to tissue levels. The work of BioSyM will have broad impact on many pathophysiological states since there is ample evidence that many mechanical/biochemical coupling mechanisms are ubiquitous in biology. Our major goals are to develop novel imaging, manipulation, measurement and control platforms that are applicable from the molecular to the tissue levels; and to apply these platforms for fundamental studies relevant to tissue degenerative diseases, fibrosis and drug screening targets. The integrated research efforts will bridge key gaps between engineering and molecular/cell biology by bringing together technologists in micro- and nanofabrication; single-molecule and single-cell manipulation; 3D molecular, cell, and tissue imaging; and computational biology with engineers, biologists, and clinicians focused on developing new tissue-based disease models, diagnostics, and treatment modalities.

Research Thrusts

Our overall goal is to develop fundamental understanding of the interactions between mechanics, biology, and tissue disease at multiple length-scales, from molecules to cells to tissues. This goal will be accomplished through novel, directed experiments that are guided and interpreted by analytical and computational models at each scale. To achieve this goal we carry out projects which are driven by the 4 thrusts.

The four thrusts are

These Thrusts continue to be based on a combination of innovative technologies applied to critical biomedical issues, and are based on platforms or methodologies including Micro / Nanofluidics, Imaging, Computation / Theory and Materials / Mechanics. 

  • Thrust 1 focuses on developing micro / nanoscale tools to probe fundamentals of molecular interactions under dynamic constraints, and study how phenomena such as molecular crowding affects cellular processes.

  • Thrust 2 is organized around the unifying theme of "Multiplexed Functional Cytometry for Studying Complex Cell Populations". Here, we are expanding the horizon of microfluidic cell characterization idea to various cell functional modalities, therefore aiming to resolve the critical technical bottlenecks of understanding complex cell systems such as those consisting of populations of interacting stem cells.

  • Thrusts 3 & 4 focus on understanding of emergent behaviours of cell clusters in-vitro and in-vivo through analysis based on integrated nano / microscale optical, microfluidics and mechanical experiments and modelling. Such understanding will  possibly be exploited for drug screening / development, regenerative medicine and cancer treatment.

    • Thrust 4 represents our explicit recognition of the need for our work to move toward in vivo applications.