The Ingber laboratory is interested in the general mechanism of cell and developmental regulation: how cells respond to signals and coordinate their behaviors to produce tissues with specialized form and function. The specific focus is on control of angiogenesis and vascular development.
Our approach has been driven by our hypothesis that the process of tissue construction may be regulated mechanically. We introduced the concept that living cells stabilize their internal cytoskeleton, and control their shape and mechanics, using an
architectural system first described by Buckminster Fuller, known as "tensegrity" To approach questions relating to how mechanical distortion of the cell and cytoskeleton influence
intracellular biochemistry and pattern formation, we have combined the use of techniques from various fields, including molecular cell biology, mechanical engineering, physics, chemistry,
and computer science. This work has led to the identification of mechanical forces and the
cytoskeleton as critical cell and developmental regulators, and the discovery that transmembrane integrin
receptors which anchor cells to extracellular matrix also mediate mechanotransduction. The process by mechanical signals are converted into an intracellular biochemical response.
Our lab also has
shown that extracellular matrix and cell shape distortion play central roles in control of angiogenesis that is required for tumor growth and expansion, and has developed numerous novel microtechnologies,
nanotechnologies, magnetic control systems and computational models in the course of pursuing these studies. Their potential applications are currently being explored in areas ranging from ultra-sensitive clinical diagnostics to nanoscale medical devices, engineered tissues, and biologically-inspired materials for tissue repair and reconstruction.