New Partnership Seeks to Advance MechanoBiology Research

By Jacob Williamson-Rea

The Center for Engineering MechanoBiology (CEMB) is a world leader in a nascent discipline that aims to better understand and control how physical forces interact with biological systems. The CEMB has set out to define “how molecules, cells and tissues integrate mechanics within plant and animal biology to create new materials, biomedical therapies and improved agricultural technologies.”

The multi-institutional CEMB was established via a $24 million, five-year National Science Foundation grant, through its Science and Technology Center program. This program exists to accelerate and improve scientific research by encouraging knowledge transfer between member institutions and into various sectors of engineering, industry and public policy. The CEMB fosters collaborations between Penn researchers and colleagues at the University of Washington in St. Louis, the University of Texas at Austin, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Alabama State University, Bryn Mawr College and Boston University.

Now, the CEMB has partnered with the Alliance of Advanced Biomedical Engineering (AAMBE), an organization “designed to stimulate biomedical innovation by bringing together and providing resources to the biomedical engineering community.” This partnership will connect scientists, clinicians and engineers across disciplines. Through the partnership, the CEMB will enjoy new collaborations in fields including regenerative medicine, cellular therapy and biofabrication.

This means that when researchers make strides forward at the CEMB, even in basic research, these advancements will be enhanced and amplified by researchers and industry leaders in the AAMBE. Additionally, CEMB researchers can further explore ideas proposed by AAMBE members.

“This is a unique opportunity to leverage a major international organization to broaden the impact of our work,” says Guy Genin, co-director of the CEMB and professor of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. “We are excited to build this partnership with AABME and ASME.”

“We will reach a wider audience of national and international researchers thanks to this new partnership,” says Vivek Shenoy, Eduardo D. Glandt President’s Distinguished Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and co-director of the CEMB. “This will accelerate research on diseases where the root of the problem involves cell growth. This includes cancer research, inflammatory disease research and some genetic disorders.”