Human Frontier Science Program Grant to Alessandra Cambi

Cambi, Alessandra

Dr. Alessandra Cambi from the Department of Tumor Immunology has been awarded a HFSP Program Grant of over $ 1.3 million. Research Grants provided by HFSP support basic research in the life sciences with emphasis placed on novel, innovative and interdisciplinary approaches that involve scientific exchanges across national and disciplinary boundaries. The project entitled "Nano-Mechano-Biology: spatiotemporal remodeling of membrane nanoplatforms under mechanical forces" has a duration of three years and is in collaboration with Dr. Diane Lidke from the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, USA), Prof. Maria Garcia-Parajo from the Institute of Photonic Sciences (Barcelona, Spain) and Prof. Satyajit Mayor from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (Bangalore, India).

During their life, cells of the immune system experience a large range of mechanical stimuli: from shear stresses encountered in blood flow and lymph nodes to irregular topographical cues of extracellular matrix fibers and changes in tension during movement from capillaries to tissue. This team will investigate how mechanical stress alters membrane organization and signaling at the molecular level in leukocytes, which will ultimately convert physical cues into biochemical signals and integrate these signals into a cellular response.

To understand how mechanical forces alter the organization of proteins in the cellular membrane and consequently signal transduction, the team will exploit cutting-edge biophysical tools, including superresolution imaging and nanospectroscopy, hyperspectral microscopy and tailored-made microdevices for mechanical manipulation.

Of the 800 pre-proposals submitted, only 68 were accepted as full proposals and subjected to external peer review, and eventually 25 were granted. The project proposal by Cambi and collaborators was ranked number one.

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