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Seminar: Tumor Microenvironment Mimics

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September 10, 2019 @ 3:30 pm - 4:20 pm

Graduate Seminar: Controlling Collagen Mechanical and Structural Properties in Tumor Microenvironment Mimics

Ian Schneider of Iowa State University will present a lecture on Controlling Collagen Mechanical and Structural Properties in Tumor Microenvironment Mimics.

time and location details can be found at the bottom of the page



The tumor microenvironment (TME) is complex, consisting of many cell types that shape its structural and mechanical properties through the assembly of collagen fiber networks. Most normal tissue contains randomly oriented collagen fibers that form a relatively soft environment. As the tumor progresses, collagen is aligned perpendicularly to the tumor margin and is crosslinked to form a stiff extracellular matrix (ECM). Both structural and mechanical properties can modulate cell migration.

Furthermore, aligned fibers and gradients in stiffness can direct cell migration towards particular targets in processes called contact guidance and durotaxis, respectively. Consequently, it is not surprising that high invasion and poor prognosis in both breast and pancreatic cancers correlate with aligned, stiff collagen. However, several questions remain.

How do different cells in the TME respond to these directional cues? Do other components of the TME modulate these responses? Along with migration, cells can remodel the collagen fiber networks through degradation and force transmission, dramatically changing structure and mechanics. How do cells cooperate during this process and which molecular regulators alter the ECM from a tumorpromoting (stiff, aligned) to normal (soft, disorganized) ECM?

In this talk I will present some approaches that we use to control structural and mechanical properties ex vivo in an attempt to mimic the TME. In addition, I will outline some insight into how cells migrate through or remodel the ECM in the TME. Understanding these cell responses will allow us to suggest approaches for either blocking invasion or reprogramming the ECM from tumor-promoting to tumor-inhibiting.


Ian Schneider is an associate professor in Chemical and Biological Engineering at Iowa State University (ISU). He is also the director of the Biomedical Engineering Minor Program. Ian earned his B.S. in chemical engineering from ISU in 2000. He earned a PhD in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University in 2005 studying spatial gradient sensing under the direction of Jason Haugh. He completed a post-doc at the Scripps Research Institute as a Damon Runyon Cancer Foundation Scholar under the direction of Clare Waterman in the area of actin and adhesion dynamics and came to ISU as an assistant professor in 2009. Ian’s lab focuses on ECM biology and how cells respond to and alter ECM composition, structure and mechanics in the context of oncology, immunology and tissue engineering.


September 10, 2019
3:30 pm - 4:20 pm


2229 Seamans Center
103 South Capitol Street
Iowa City, IA 52242 United States
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Posted on September 6th, 2019

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