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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Professor to Study Cellular Response to Mechanical Stimuli

July 20, 2002

Cheng-Jen "Charles" Chuong, a biomedical engineering professor with The University of Texas at Arlington, has received a $195,000, three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the effects of mechanical stimuli on cells. Chuong's research is an essential step in the discovery of strategies that promote controlled wound healing and facilitate tissue engineering -- the growth of skin, muscles and organs.

Chuong is collaborating with Professors Matthew Petroll and James Jester of the Ophthalmology Department of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. The team will be studying the biomechanical behavior of corneal fibroblast, the cells that contribute to the formation of connective tissue fibers. Each member of the team has a separate specialty -- Chuong with mechanical interactions, Petroll with fluorescent microscopy, and Jester with cell biology. Collectively, the team will receive more than $600,000 to conduct their research.

It's well known that many biological stimuli influence cell behavior, producing both positive and negative reactions in the cell body. However, the team is investigating reactions due to outside mechanical stimuli applied to the cell membrane. "We're trying to discover what mechanical stresses the cells 'like' and 'dislike'," said Professor Chuong, "What makes them want to migrate, to proliferate, to recess. If we understand the underlying mechanisms and signaling pathways, we can promote designed cell growth for skin, cornea, heart valves, muscle and bone formation and more."

The UTA College of Engineering's Biomedical Engineering Program conducts its teaching and research activities jointly with the UT Southwestern Medical Center. In addition, UTA's College of Engineering and College of Science offer a five-year degree plan leading to a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering. The primary elements of this 'fast track' program are tissue engineering and biotechnology.