Tatsiana Lobovkina

Constructing soft-matter cell models for studying cell migration

Tatsiana LobovkinaTatsiana Lobovkina (Tanya) has a dream for the future: to understand how the molecular components of biological cells are orchestrated in response to external stimuli. Many biological processes such as wound healing, cancer metastasis, and chronic inflammatory diseases, all share a strong dependency upon the phenomenon of directed cell migration.

To date, the underlying mechanisms of such movement are poorly understood due to the complexity of biological systems, as well as limitations of the existing experimental methods. In her work, Tanya constructs novel cell model systems by dissecting the molecular components of cells, and building synthetic membrane analogues, to elucidate key aspects of cell movement.

The goal is to extract qualitative and quantitative understanding of complex cellular processes, which are difficult to obtain in native cell networks. Tanya’s long lasting interest and experience in biomimetic soft-matter systems, has origins tracing back to her PhD studies, which focused upon phenomenological responses of lipid membrane assemblies.

The most exciting questions within the soft-matter field, centre around the fundamental knowledge about dynamic cellular processes, i.e. migration, shape changes, adhesion and growth. The key components directing such biological processes, namely DNA, proteins and cell membranes, have been mostly identified and are under regular investigation. However, the interplay between these components, particularly their temporal state changes, are largely unknown, especially in response to variances of internal and external cell conditions.

Fundamental research is societal investment, building a strong knowledge basis upon which to sculpt programs for more application driven developments. Tanya believes in the importance of such investments, to avoid the formation of knowledge gaps, as we redirect to a more application driven scientific community. Losses in the early stages have the potential to hinder the progress of and development of the scientists of tomorrow.

Chalmers has a mission to conduct internationally recognised education and research. It has recognised the value of supporting multidisciplinary basic science, upon which others can build and develop applied research programmes. Through careful nurture of this foundational science, knowledge can be disseminated to a broader audience, establishing Chalmers as a premier institute for both the present and the future.

Published: Wed 10 Feb 2016.