All cells in the body are covered with sugars. Scientists call this collection of sugars the glycocalyx, a name literally meaning "sweet husk." Specific changes to the composition and organization of these sugars are linked to lethal cancers and other debilitating diseases, but we don’t fully know why. Our group’s mission is to understand the biophysical functions of sugars with the hope that we can reprogram cells back to normal, healthy states by engineering cellular production of sugars and the ways in which cells organize these sugars. A parallel mission is to develop the infrastructure—custom-tailored experimental tools and computational models—necessary to propel the early stages of inquiry in biophysical glycoscience and glycoengineering.
We enjoy asking out-of-the-box questions. Can we “deflate” the glycocalyx to stop cancer cell spread? Can we target the glycocalyx to silence cell-to-cell communication in cancer or to encourage communication for regenerative medicine? Does molecular crowding in the glycocalyx affect patient sensitivity to drugs? Can we program cell surface shapes and dynamics on demand through metabolic engineering? As part of a multi-lab initiative across the nation, we also hope to understand how diet and metabolism change the physical functioning of cells and tissues in cancer. We are always looking for talented investigators to join our group and seek new collaborators throughout medicine, engineering, and the physical sciences. Please contact us.
Monet has been selected to be inducted to the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society at Yale University!
Steven presented his work on interference microscopy in the biophysics symposium at Cornell.
Monet presented her research at the Biomedical Engineering Society meeting in Atlanta.