Colloquium Speaker: Volkmar Heinrich
Title: Venturing into the sprawling frontier that is cell and molecular immunophysics
Abstract: How do individual immune cells detect, interpret, and respond to the chemical and physical telltale signs of the presence of nearby pathogens? A comprehensive quantitative understanding of the underlying processes is key to a future precision medicine that will be truly personalized and predictive. But such understandings is impossible without a thorough exploration of the sprawling frontier of subdisciplines of immunology that complement immunobiology. New experimental and conceptual paradigms have started to tackle this challenge, often with the additional advantage of precluding many of the uncertainties inherent in traditional studies of model systems. The integration of single-live-cell/single-pathogen experiments with physically realistic and biological plausible mathematical models has proven to be a powerful approach to reveal new insights into the behavior of human and other immune cells. In this talk, I will discuss how modern concepts and tools of nano-to-microscale biophysics can be adopted to address open questions about the inner workings of the human immune system. I will present examples demonstrating the prospects and challenges of single-molecule and single-cel experiments on live immune cells, placing them into the context of vital immune-cell functions such as chemotaxis, adhesion, and phagocytosis.
Biography: Dr. Volkmar Heinrich is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UC Davis. In addition to the BME Graduate Group, he is a member of the Graduate Groups of Biophysics, Chemical Engineering, Immunology, and Microbiology. Dr. Heinrich graduated with a Ph.D. in theoretical biophysics from Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, in 1992. Since then, he has conducted integrative experimental/theoretical research at the cell and molecular scale as postdoc and research faculty at the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), University of Rochester (NY), University of British Columbia (Canada), and Boston University (MA), before joining the faculty at the University of California, Davis in 2005.