University College London, United Kingdom
Cell migration is important during many healthy processes such as the movement of immune cells to the site of infection when a pathogen enters the body. It is also important to many disease processes, for example defective cell migration underlies the transformation of healthy tissue to metastatic cancer. Cells can use different strategies to move depending on the cell type or surface that they move along, among other things.
My research focuses on a newly discovered type of cell migration, where rearward flows of the cell-peripheral structure called the cortex are converted to forces that push the cell forward. However, nothing is known about how this cortex, which resides inside the cell, interacts with the exterior substrate upon which the cell moves. In this project, I will study the molecular link between these structures using a combination of techniques from bioengineering, microscopy, genome editing and computer simulation.
Knowledge of the mechanisms and interplay of the different ways that cells move is essential for a proper understanding of important processes such as development and diseases such as cancer.