🏢 Bellini Life Sciences Building, Room 273
🔬 Research interest: cytoskeleton, microtubule, mitosis, neurons, cancer therapy, microtubule-associated protein, single molecule biophysics, cryo-electron microscopy
Cells of the human body adopt a range of shapes, from the pancake-flat skin cells of the inner cheek to the tree-like neurons of the hippocampus. How does a cell become a tree and not a pancake? The shape of a cell is determine by an underlying cellular skeleton, or cytoskeleton, just as the shape of a vertebrate’s body is determined by its bones. The Brouhard lab studies the “bones” of the cytoskeleton, polymers known as microtubules — how they are formed and how their formation changes a cell’s behavior. Cells can build an amazing variety of structures from microtubules, structures notable for their range of shapes, their ability to respond to stimulus, and their motility. The lab’s scientific interests are in the biophysical mechanisms by which cells engineer these large-scale structures—in other words, the physical basis of cell shape and organization. Microtubules are prominent drug targets in cancer therapy, and their misregulation underlies many brain diseases. The Brouhard lab uses biophysics, cell biology, and biochemistry to perform basic health science research oriented toward understanding and treating these diseases.