The Department of Chemical Engineering is hosting UBC’s Professor James Feng who will talk about Modelling Collective Migration of Biological Cells. Please join us to learn about Professor Feng’s research.
All graduate ChE students will receive an Outlook calendar event with webinar access details.
Everyone is welcome – If you are not a graduate ChE student, contact the Manager of Graduate Studies for the access information you need to join the webinar.
The collective migration of neural crest cells is central to early embryonic development of vertebrates. In vitro experiments have revealed two peculiar features. One is "spontaneous persistent migration" of a cluster in a largely 1D channel in the absence of a chemical gradient, where a single cell would have executed a random walk. The other is "group advantage": in a chemokine gradient too shallow to induce a single cell to chemotax, a cluster of cells can demonstrate robust chemotaxis up the gradient.
In this talk, Professor Feng will describe a model that explains these behaviors from the biochemical interactions between Rac/Rho proteins. Through contact inhibition and co-attraction, the cells modulate each other's Rac1 and RhoA dynamics on their membranes and achieve a common polarity. This affords a group of cells much stronger persistence in their migration against ambient noise than for a single cell. Thus, an initial bias in the geometric setup can induce spontaneous collective migration that lasts for hours, and a cluster can respond robustly to a shallow gradient in a 2D space where a single cell cannot.
James J. Feng received his BS (1985) and MS (1988) degrees from Peking University in Beijing and his PhD (1995) from the University of Minnesota, all in Fluid Mechanics. After a postdoctoral stint at the University of California, Santa Barbara, he was appointed an associate professor in 1998 at the Levich Institute for Physicochemical Hydrodynamics in New York City, where he carried out research in non-Newtonian fluid dynamics and polymer rheology and taught in the Mechanical Engineering department of the City College of New York. In 2000, he received the NSF Career Award for work on multicomponent polymer flows. In 2004, he moved to the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, as a Canada Research Chair in Complex Fluids and Interfaces (Tier 2), with a joint appointment in Chemical and Biological Engineering and Mathematics.
He received the CFI (Canada Foundation for Innovation) Leaders Opportunity Award in 2008, and the NSERC Discovery Accelerator Award in 2009. He was also a UBC Killam Faculty Research Fellow during 2010-2011 and a Visiting Fellow at the Newton Institute, Cambridge University, in 2013 and 2015.
He was elected fellow of the APS (American Physical Society) in 2013 and appointed a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at UBC for 2014-2015. In 2017, he won the CAIMS Research Prize of the Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society.
His current research covers multiphase and interfacial fluid dynamics, cell and tissue mechanics and morphogenesis.