2019 Biology-Chemistry Colloquium: Professor Bianxiao Cui

2019 Biology-Chemistry Colloquium: Professor Bianxiao Cui
Thu April 11th 2019, 4:30pm
Event Sponsor
Support for this event has been provided by Benchling.
Sapp Center Lecture Hall

2019 Biology-Chemistry Colloquium: Professor Bianxiao Cui

About the Talk

"Curvature as a biochemical cue at the cell-material interface"

Physical cues of cellular environment such as stiffness and topography affect cell signaling and cell fate. It is well known that environmental stiffness alters mechanical signaling pathways that can guide stem cells into different lineages. We are interested in how topographic cues affect intracellular signaling and cell fate determination. Using nanofabrication, we create arrays of nanoscale topographies of different sizes and shapes. We find that these nanoscale topographies are able to induce local activation of intracellular proteins and processes including clathrin-dependent endocytosis and actin dynamics. Further investigations reveal that these vertical nanostructures deform the plasma membrane inwards and induce local membrane curvatures at the cell-nanostructures interface. The activation of intracellular proteins is determined by the value and the sign of the membrane curvature. Therefore, membrane curvatures at the cell-material interface may directly serve as biochemical signals that translate surface topography into intracellular signaling.

About the Speaker

Professor Cui develops new physical and chemical approaches to study biological processes in neurons, with particular focus on long-range signal propagation in axons and its implications in neurodegenerative disease. Methods of interest include live imaging of vesicular transport, magnetic and optical manipulation of axonal traffic, single-molecule fluorescence imaging, photo-lithography, electrophysiological recordings and a microfluidic neuronal platform for studying axonal transport.

Bianxiao Cui studied materials science and engineering at the University of Science & Technology of China (B.S. 1998) before pursuing doctoral study in physical chemistry at the University of Chicago (Ph.D. 2002). In thesis work under Prof. Stuart Rice, she explored dynamic heterogeneity and phase transition in colloidal liquids. She moved to California in 2002 to perform postdoctoral research with Prof. Steven Chu on single-molecule imaging of nerve growth factor signal transduction in neurons. She joined the Stanford Department of Chemistry as Assistant Professor in 2008, and in 2015 became Associate Professor. She was recently awarded the National Science Foundation INSPIRE Award for interdisciplinary research, as well as the NSF New Innovator and CAREER Awards, among others.

Current work in the Cui Lab seeks to understand neuronal signal propagation, with three major research directions: 1) investigating axonal transport processes using optical imaging, magnetic and optical trapping, and a microfluidic platform; 2) developing vertical nanopillar-based electric and optic sensors for sensitive detection of biological functions; 3) using optogentics to investigate temporal and spatial control of intracellular signaling pathways.