Matthew Akamatsu, PhD (Biology)
We combine computational modeling with quantitative fluorescence microscopy to study how the actin cytoskeleton deforms cellular membranes in human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs).  Our long-term goal is to contribute to the understanding of how protein complexes and membranes self-organize within cells to produce directional force and adapt to their physical environment. We use CRISPR/Cas9 to endogenously tag cytoskeletal proteins with fluorescent markers and track their abundance and movement over time in cells using quantitative fluorescence microscopy. These measurements constrain biophysical models of cellular membranes and cytoskeletal networks producing force. Diploid hiPSCs facilitate reproducible quantitative cellular measurements and enable future comparative studies with isogenic differentiated cell lines.

Hongxia Fu, PhD (Medicine/Hematology)
Our lab develops and applies single molecule biophysical methods to directly capture nanoscale events in biological processes such as protein folding/unfolding and biomolecular interactions, and explore the underlying molecular mechanisms in order to unveil the origin of disease. We also use human pluripotent stem cells to re-create key features of human vascular disease, such as thrombosis and bleeding disorders. Combining single-molecule manipulation tools, microfluidics, and stem cell biology, we are building a molecule-to-tissue scale model of human disease and aim to develop novel interventions, including both molecular and cellular therapies.