Krystyn J. Van Vliet- 2006 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
It is impossible to view tiny molecules with traditional, light-based microscopic techniques. Now, scientists may view individual receptors on living cells using an atomic-force microscope that was built into an optical microscope - a byproduct of Van Vliet's Beckman Young Investigator research. Krystyn Van Vliet, Ph.D., Paul M. Cook Career Development Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also modified an optical stretcher to enable single-cell mechanical experiments on human stem cells. Her goal was to help foster stem cell culture expansion and spur the development of new materials for stem cell therapy. Indeed, she succeeded. Van Vliet has been published in such notable journals as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Biophysical Journal and Physical Review.
BYI-Funded Research: Engineering Cell Phenotype via Molecular Mapping and Mechanical Niche Modulation
Developments/Inventions: Atomic force microscope integrated within optical microscope and in vitro stage, which has allowed for sustained imaging and mechanical characterization of stem cells and tissues. Engineering modifications to the optical stretcher (invented by Guck et al.) to enable single-cell mechanical experiments on human mesenchymal stem cells, which were significantly larger and more adhesive than previous cell types studied with this instrument.
Post-Beckman Funding: Human Frontier Science Program, Singapore-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research Alliance in Research & Technology
Publications: Biophysical Journal, Cell Adhesion and Migration, Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, Physical Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences