Seminar – Dr. K. Jimmy Hsia: Geometry-mediated Collective Cell Migration & Wound Healing

Dr-HsiaGeometry-mediated Collective Cell Migration & Wound Healing

Speaker: Dr. K. Jimmy Hsia

President’s Chair Professor in Mechanical Engineering, Nanyang Technological University (NTU); School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and School of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology

When: August 2, 2024  |  10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Fred Kaiser Building (KAIS), room 2020 (2332 Main Mall, Vancouver)

The Department of Mechanical Engineering’s Distinguished Colloquium series invites leading researchers to share their expertise on a variety of topics with our academic community.


Collective migration of cells in response to their extra-cellular matrix (ECM) is a complex and fascinating phenomenon. Biologists mostly focus their attention on the effects of biological and biochemical environment. Effects of physical environments, such as material stiffness and geometrical patterns, are only examined recently by researchers working in biomechanics and mechanobiology. The objectives of these studies are to reveal the mechanisms governing the collective cells motion and to identify the key driving forces. In this talk, I will present our recent work on this topic. Specifically, I will discuss three studies of collective cell migration: MCF cells in response to stiffness gradient; C2C12 cell alignment in response to surface grooves; and MDCK cells in response to non-cell-adhesive surface patterns. All three examples have one theme in common, they all involve creating waviness on the ECM, albeit in different ways. Several important geometric parameters such as radius of curvature and size/wavelength of the waviness are highlighted. We focus on the effects of cell-matrix interactions vs. cell-cell interactions.  The understanding gained from these studies has profound implications including, but not limited to, tubular construct formation in breast cells (MCF), muscle strip formation through cell alignment (C2C12), and wound healing efficiency by re-epithelialization (MDCK). I will spend more time to discuss the wound healing project to showcase some fascinating observations and their implications. The mechanobiological understanding of cell responses to their physical environment will help guide development of biophysical strategies for tissue repair, plastic surgery, and wound management.


Dr. Jimmy Hsia is President’s Chair Professor in the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and School of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. He received B.S. from Tsinghua University, China, and Ph.D. from MIT. His research interests include mechanics of soft materials, mechanics of plant organ morphogenesis and morphing metamaterials, mechanics of mammalian cells, smart adhesive systems, and soft robotics. He is Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Fellow of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers (AIMBE), Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and recipient of NSF Research Initiation Award, Max-Planck Society Scholarship, and Japan Society for Promotion of Science Fellowship. He was Founding Dean of Graduate College and Vice President (Alumni & International Affairs) at NTU. Before joining NTU, he was Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering and Vice Provost for International Programs at Carnegie Mellon University, and W. Grafton and Lillian B. Wilkins Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). From 2005-2007, Hsia served as Founding Director of Nano and Bio Mechanics Program at NSF. He is the Founding co-Editor-in-Chief of an Elsevier journal, Extreme Mechanics Letters.