Leo Q. Wan, Ph.D.

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Biomedical Engineering
Institution
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Address
2147 Center for Biotechnology & Interdisciplinary
110 8th Street,
City, State, Zip
Troy, NY 12180
Phone
(518) 276-2505
E-mail
wanq[at]rpi.edu
Website
http://faculty.rpi.edu/node/1125
Research Field
Bioengineering
Award Year
2013

Research

Our lab studies the biomolecular and biomechanical processes of epithelial cell chirality. We plan to investigate how organisms adopt consistent left-right positioning – or 'handedness.' We will study this phenomenon in epithelial cells, as a left-right body plan would not be established without proper epithelial cell development of chirality. For example, epithelial cell chirality may be critical for a process in the developing heart in embryos, which causes a shift in patterns of heart symmetry from a top-bottom aligned symmetric tube to a left-right asymmetric c-shaped loop. We previously replicated the phenomenon of left-right chirality on a two-dimensional micropattern, the creation of an ever-smaller scale of a pattern, which led to the development of a highly accurate in vitro platform for studying cellular asymmetry. With the Pew award, we will use combination of micropatterning, live-cell imaging, molecular assay, and cell biomechanics to identify the signaling pathways and molecules responsible for epithelial cell chirality. In so doing, we hope to uncover the rules that govern left-right asymmetry in tissues and organs during development, and use this information to better understand genetic diseases and birth defects associated with asymmetry.