Biomedical engineer, Louisiana Tech alumnae to begin New Frontiers lecture series

Sep 14, 2015 | Applied and Natural Sciences, Engineering and Science, General News, Research and Development

The New Frontiers in Biomedical Research lecture series will kick-off its third year at Louisiana Tech University on September 21with a presentation by Dr. Michelle Dawson, assistant professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech and 1999 Louisiana Tech alumnae.
Dr. Michelle Dawson

Dr. Michelle Dawson

Dawson, whose research is focused on manipulating cell mechanics to control cell function, will present a lecture titled, “Mechanics and Malignancy: Biophysical Approaches for Understanding Cancer,” at 3:30 p.m. in University Hall on the Louisiana Tech campus. The event is free and members of the campus and local communities are cordially invited to attend. Quantitative microscopy techniques, based on transport phenomena, are used to characterize the mechanomic signatures of cells, which control their migration, differentiation, and pathological development, in tissue and tumor microenvironments. Biological gene expression analysis and small molecule screening are then used to elucidate the molecular pathways controlling these mechanical profiles and to identify tissue biomarkers and targets for therapeutic development. The complex microenvironment in a solid tumor is a major barrier in understanding the molecular and mechanical mechanisms that control cancer progression. Biophysical approaches used to quantify the intracellular forces from the actin cytoskeleton and surface traction forces from adhesion allow Dawson’s group to probe the biomechanical properties of individual cells exposed to tumor-mimicking conditions, such as secreted soluble factors, mechanical stress, and hypoxia, with an unprecedented level of detail. By systematically investigating the parameters in the tumor microenvironment that control cancer cell behavior, as well as their interactions with tumor-associated stromal cells, Dawson hopes to gain a better understanding of malignant cell behavior, which will be used to develop new strategies for treating cancer. Dawson has received numerous awards for her research and mentorship including the Women in Engineering (WIE) Teaching Excellence Award and Junior Faculty Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award at Georgia Tech. She has also received the Georgia Tech and Emory Center for Regenerative Medicine Award for her work on anti-angiogenic mesenchymal stem cell-based therapy for metastatic melanoma. The New Frontiers in Biomedical Research seminar series is co-organized by Dr. Jamie Newman, the Scott Weathersby Endowed Professor in Zoology and Premedicine, and Dr. Mary Caldorera-Moore, assistant professor of biomedical engineering. Newman and Caldorera-Moore invite guests to join them in welcoming Dawson and learning more about her work in this cutting edge area of cancer biology. Dawson’s visit is sponsored by the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Sciences (CBERS) and the Office for Women in Science and Engineering (OWISE). For more information on Dawson and her presentation, or other events in this year’s New Frontiers in Biomedical Research lecture series, visit