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Physics of living matter

Edited by: Dr Senthil Arumugam, Monash University, Australia
                 Dr Shu Jia, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, USA
                 Dr Yanlan Mao, University College London, UK                
                 Dr Kandice Tanner, National Cancer Institute, USA

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Novel technologies combined with a deepening accessibility and appreciation of the importance of interdisciplinary research have facilitated the insights that can be gained from physical and mathematical approaches to open questions in biology. Guest Edited by Senthil Arumugam, Shu Jia, Yanlan Mao, and Kandice Tanner, this Collection from BMC Biology will brings together the latest findings and techniques from this expanding research landscape.

 Image credit: Yanlan Mao

Our Guest Editors:

Senthil Arumugam

New Content ItemDr Senthil Arumugam received his PhD training in the lab of Prof Petra Schwille at the Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, focusing on self-assembly and self-organisation of proteins involved in bacterial cell division. His post-doctoral work in the labs of Prof Patricia Bassereau and Prof Ludger Johannes at the Curie Institute, Paris, France, focused on protein-membrane interactions and cellular trafficking.Dr Arumugam joined Single Molecule Science at the University of New South Wales as an independent group leader in September 2016. Since October 2019, he is an EMBL Australia Group Leader at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. His team studies how complex properties arise out of molecules and their interactions, with a primary focus on endosomal trafficking at the level of single cells and in the context of intercellular communications in development.

Shu Jia

New Content ItemShu Jia, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. Dr Jia received his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University. He completed his postdoctoral training at Harvard University. Dr Jia's research interests include systems biophotonics: single-molecule biophotonics, super-resolution and advanced optical microscopy, imaging instrumentation and devices.

Yanlan Mao

New Content ItemYanlan Mao is a Group Leader at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, University College London. After receiving her BA in Natural Sciences at Cambridge University, she completed her PhD at the MRC LMB in Cambridge on Drosophila cell signaling and epithelial patterning. During her postdoc at the CRUK London Research Institute (now Francis Crick Institute), she became interested in tissue mechanics and computational modeling approaches, and studied the role of mechanical forces in orienting cell divisions and controlling tissue shape. She started her independent research group in 2014, and is investigating the role of mechanical forces in tissue development, homeostasis and repair.

Kandice Tanner

PLM GE TannerKandice Tanner received her doctoral degree in Physics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign under Professor Enrico Gratton. She completed post-doctoral training at the University of California, Irvine specializing in dynamic imaging of thick tissues. She then became a Department of Defense Breast Cancer Post-doctoral fellow jointly at University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under Dr. Mina J. Bissell. Dr. Tanner joined the National Cancer Institute as a Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator in July, 2012, where she integrates concepts from molecular biophysics and cell biology to learn how cells and tissues sense and respond to their physical microenvironment. She received tenure at NIH in 2020. For her work, she has been awarded the 2013 National Cancer Institute Director’s Intramural Innovation Award, the 2015 NCI Leading Diversity award, Federal Technology Transfer Award in 2016, 2018 and 2020, the 2016 Young Fluorescence Investigator award from the Biophysical Society, and named as a Young Innovator in Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering in 2016 by the Biomedical Engineering Society. She also serves as an editorial board member of Scientific Reports and Physical Biology. She currently serves on the Nomination committee for the ASCB.


  1. Efficient tools allowing the extraction of 2D surfaces from 3D-microscopy data are essential for studies aiming to decipher the complex cellular choreography through which epithelium morphogenesis takes place ...

    Authors: Céline Trébeau, Jacques Boutet de Monvel, Gizem Altay, Jean-Yves Tinevez and Raphaël Etournay
    Citation: BMC Biology 2022 20:183
  2. Animal locomotion requires dynamic interactions between neural circuits, the body (typically muscles), and surrounding environments. While the neural circuitry of movement has been intensively studied, how the...

    Authors: Xiyang Sun, Yingtao Liu, Chang Liu, Koichi Mayumi, Kohzo Ito, Akinao Nose and Hiroshi Kohsaka
    Citation: BMC Biology 2022 20:130
  3. In vertebrate cells, the Golgi functional subunits, mini-stacks, are linked into a tri-dimensional network. How this “ribbon” architecture relates to Golgi functions remains unclear. Are all connections betwee...

    Authors: Karen M. Page, Jessica J. McCormack, Mafalda Lopes-da-Silva, Francesca Patella, Kimberly Harrison-Lavoie, Jemima J. Burden, Ying-Yi Bernadette Quah, Dominic Scaglioni, Francesco Ferraro and Daniel F. Cutler
    Citation: BMC Biology 2022 20:111
  4. Birds are key indicator species in extant ecosystems, and thus we would expect extinct birds to provide insights into the nature of ancient ecosystems. However, many aspects of extinct bird ecology, particular...

    Authors: Case Vincent Miller, Michael Pittman, Xiaoli Wang, Xiaoting Zheng and Jen A. Bright
    Citation: BMC Biology 2022 20:101
  5. The dynamics of the actomyosin machinery is at the core of many important biological processes. Several relevant cellular responses such as the rhythmic compression of the cell cortex are governed, at a mesosc...

    Authors: Miguel Hernández-del-Valle, Andrea Valencia-Expósito, Antonio López-Izquierdo, Pau Casanova-Ferrer, Pedro Tarazona, Maria D. Martín-Bermudo and David G. Míguez
    Citation: BMC Biology 2022 20:90
  6. Supraphysiological hemodynamics are a recognized driver of platelet activation and thrombosis at high-grade stenosis and in blood contacting circulatory support devices. However, whether platelets mechano-sens...

    Authors: Nurul A. Zainal Abidin, Eric K. W. Poon, Crispin Szydzik, Mariia Timofeeva, Farzan Akbaridoust, Rose J. Brazilek, Francisco J. Tovar Lopez, Xiao Ma, Chitrarth Lav, Ivan Marusic, Philip E. Thompson, Arnan Mitchell, Andrew S. H. Ooi, Justin R. Hamilton and Warwick S. Nesbitt
    Citation: BMC Biology 2022 20:73
  7. T cell activation is a mechanical process as much as it is a biochemical process. In this study, we used a cone-and-plate viscometer system to treat Jurkat and primary human T cells with fluid shear stress (FS...

    Authors: Jacob M. Hope, Jenna A. Dombroski, Rebecca S. Pereles, Maria Lopez-Cavestany, Joshua D. Greenlee, Samantha C. Schwager, Cynthia A. Reinhart-King and Michael R. King
    Citation: BMC Biology 2022 20:61
  8. Polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy (PCV), a subtype of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a global leading cause of vision loss in older populations. Distinct from typical AMD, PCV is characterized by p...

    Authors: Kan Xing Wu, Natalie Jia Ying Yeo, Chun Yi Ng, Florence Wen Jing Chioh, Qiao Fan, Xianfeng Tian, Binxia Yang, Gunaseelan Narayanan, Hui Min Tay, Han Wei Hou, N. Ray Dunn, Xinyi Su, Chui Ming Gemmy Cheung and Christine Cheung
    Citation: BMC Biology 2022 20:47
  9. The human foetus typically needs to rotate when passing through the tight birth canal because of the complex shape of the pelvis. In most women, the upper part, or inlet, of the birth canal has a round or medi...

    Authors: Ekaterina Stansfield, Barbara Fischer, Nicole D. S. Grunstra, Maria Villa Pouca and Philipp Mitteroecker
    Citation: BMC Biology 2021 19:224
  10. Gravity plays an important role in most life forms on Earth. Yet, a complete molecular understanding of sensing and responding to gravity is lacking. While there are anatomical differences among animals, there...

    Authors: Wei-Long Chen, Hungtang Ko, Han-Sheng Chuang, David M. Raizen and Haim H. Bau
    Citation: BMC Biology 2021 19:186
  11. Quantitative imaging of epithelial tissues requires bioimage analysis tools that are widely applicable and accurate. In the case of imaging 3D tissues, a common preprocessing step consists of projecting the ac...

    Authors: Sébastien Herbert, Léo Valon, Laure Mancini, Nicolas Dray, Paolo Caldarelli, Jérôme Gros, Elric Esposito, Spencer L. Shorte, Laure Bally-Cuif, Nathalie Aulner, Romain Levayer and Jean-Yves Tinevez
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