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QUMIN - Research project

Quantitative in situ imaging and machine learning of cell/matrix mechanical interactions for cell biology

Post-doctoral fellow: Chloé TECHENS


It is now well established in biology that the cellular response and phenotype are determined by the local mechanical environment at the cellular level. This means that there should be a direct correlation between the local biological function of each cell and the local mechanical properties of the surrounding microenvironment. However, this correlation has never been characterized until now. Therefore, our main goal is to map the mechanical stimuli around vascular smooth muscle cells in collagen hydrogels, including strain gradients, strains and stresses, and correlate them to specific local phenotypic parameters. For this, we propose to engrave micro-markers around cells in collagen hydrogels by densification thanks to the femtosecond laser, then to precisely follow the position of these markers in confocal microscopy at first (microscopic resolution), then in-line holography in a second step (nanometric resolution). These precise and real-time measurements will be employed to develop a machine learning model of the mechanical interactions between the cell and its environment, with major potential applications for the diagnosis of cancers or cardiovascular diseases.