After completing his B.A. with high honors at the Open University of Israel in 2000 Dr. Zaidel-Bar enrolled at the Weizmann Institute of Science, where he joined the lab of Prof. Benjamin Geiger. It is there he started thinking of cells as little machines and caught the passion for live cell imaging. In 2005 he completed his Ph.D, which addressed how force regulates cell-matrix adhesions. Dr. Zaidel-Bar wanted to continue exploring the molecules and mechanics of cell adhesion, but in the context of a whole organism. He chose to spend his postdoc training learning the ins and outs of the model organism C. elegans. In 2006 he joined the lab of Prof. Jeff Hardin at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he has been applying genetics, as well as live embryo imaging, to the study of cell-cell junction regulation in development.
Dr. Zaidel-Bar’s interest lies in the cytoskeleton (the cell’s “skeleton”), cell adhesion, and the complex structures that connect the two (focal adhesions and adherens junctions). In particular, he is interested in how these networks are regulated to allow a cell to respond to its environment and promote cell shape changes and migration. Working with Prof. Geiger and Prof. Zvi Kam he discovered important stages in the assembly of focal adhesions and uncovered the roles of force and tyrosine phosphorylation in this process. Pioneering high resolution live cell imaging under shear flow he elucidated novel molecular mechanisms involved in mechanotransduction. Finally, in collaborations with students from Prof. Uri Alon’s lab, he undertook a more holistic approach to adhesion, constructing and analyzing the “adhesome”, a systems biology view of cell-matrix adhesion.
Working in the lab of Prof. Hardin he acquired the skills and way of thinking of developmental geneticists. He was also challenged to image embryos in four dimensions, and has produced stunning movies of the cytoskeleton and cell junctions during development. A genetic screen uncovered novel regulators of cell-cell adhesion, and he has focused his attention in particular on a unique protein that can curve membranes and regulates junction architecture.
Dr. Zaidel-Bar’s interest in “the big picture” continued during his postdoc, when he published papers on the evolution of complexity and on switches in the adhesome.
Dr. Zaidel-Bar was very excited to learn of the establishment of the Mecanobiology institute in Singapore under the directorship of Prof. Michael Sheetz (part of the Research Centers of Excellence scheme). He shares its force-centric view of cells and its mission aligns perfectly with his research goals: to use quantitative tools to systematically decompose the process of cell-cell adhesion by building a small network of relevant molecular interactions, and to understand the dynamics of morphogenesis across molecular, cellular and tissue levels. In his lab, Dr. Zaidel-Bar employs model organism genetics as a discovery and validation tool and advanced imaging and manipulations techniques of mammalian cells in culture for functional analysis.
In January 2010 Ronen was awarded a prestigious fellowship from the National Research Foundation of Singapore and he joined the division of bioengineering in the National University of Singapore.
Yemima started her scientific journey by joining the Chemistry Department of Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia. Among courses that she followed there, she was mostly fascinated by courses in biochemistry and molecular biology. Thus, she decided to deepen her knowledge in those areas by doing a bachelor thesis on heterologous expression of human interferon alpha in E. coli under the supervision of Dr. I Made Artika. Her interest in biology grew stronger and stimulated her to pursue her master in biotechnology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands in 2002. During her study there, she was captured by the beauty of cell biology and exquisite control in the cell to maintain proper segregation of its genetic materials. This led herjoining the lab of Prof. René Medema to study the mechanism of spindle assembly checkpoint during mitosis in human cells in culture. After completion of her master in 2004, she joined the lab of Prof. Pierre Gonczy. Her interest in cell cycle regulation remained. However, instead of using human cells in culture, she used the roundworm C. elegans as the model system to study cell cycle. Her PhD work led to a discovery of a mechanism regulating lineage-specific cell cycle timing at the two-cell stage C. elegans embryos. Challenged by the idea of system biology and mathematical modeling, she decided to stay in Gönczy lab as a postdoc and together with Simon Blanchoud and Prof. Felix Naef, worked on quantitative study of anterior-posterior polarity establishment in one cell stage of C. elegans embryos. Her long-standing interest in development and realization of the power of C. elegans as a model organism brought her to the lab of Dr. Zaidel-Bar, where she will be working on elucidating the mechanism of cell adhesion during C. elegans morphogenesis.
Anup completed his B.Tech in Industrial Biotechnology from Anna University, India and carried out his masters at the Singapore-MIT Alliance program. After his masters, he joined the Bioprocessing Technology Institute at Biopolis where he worked towards understanding stress-induced apoptosis in mammalian cells.
During this time he became interested in the phenomenon of cytokinesis. Therefore for his Ph.D, he joined Prof. Mohan Balasubramanian‘s Cell Division Lab at Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, where he worked on understanding the mechanisms regulating the positioning and assembling of actomyosin rings during cytokinesis in fission yeast. The beauty in C.elegans embryo development attracted him to the Zaidel-Bar Lab. Having developed a taste and technique for imaging during his graduate studies, he is now focusing his attention towards understanding the role of cell adhesion in cytokinesis during the development of C.elegans embryo.
Wu Yao graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering from National University of Singapore. During his Final Year Project, he successfully synthesized hollow structured titanium dioxide nanoparticles for photocatalytic degradation of organic compounds in waste water. His great passion in doing research and in learning new knowledge pushes him proactively to explore in a multidisciplinary field – Mechanobiology. After admission into Mechanobiology Institute as a PhD student, he is really excited to join Dr. Ronen Zaidel-Bar’s lab to study the ultrastructure of cell-cell junctions by applying super-resolution microscopy, where he can make contributions by using his analytical and quantitative skills.
Pei Yi graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences from the National University of Singapore. For her Honours project, she characterized essential genes for plant growth and development in Arabidopsis thaliana. During her undergraduate studies, she also took part in a research opportunity program where she examined proteins governing the innate immune system. Her fascination with the biological system led her to pursue further studies. She was admitted into the Mechanobiology PhD program where she will be investigating the phenomena of cell-cell adhesion and junctional dynamics during C. elegans morphogenesis under the guidance of Dr. Ronen Zaidel-Bar.
Aishwarya Srinivasan has recently completed a Bachelors degree in Bioengineering, with a minor in Management of Technology, from the National University of Singapore. For her Honors Dissertation project, she worked in the Tissue Repair Laboratory, where she designed a bioreactor setup to construct bone grafts for spinal fusions. During her undergraduate studies, she also pursued a research opportunities program, where she studied the effects of collagen and elastin mimetic peptides on formation of blood vessels.
Aishwarya is now excited to join the Cell adhesion lab as a research assistant, where she’ll get an opportunity to study the regulation of cell-cell adhesion. In specific, she will be using different microscopy techniques to study the regulation of cell-cell adhesion by mammalian srGAPs.
After his graduation from Sun-Yat Sen University, China, he had experienced different career options until he found his passion in scientific research. In 2009, he worked as a research assistant in the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun-Yat Sen University, where his project was to develop DNA transfection vectors based on cationic polymers, and evaluate their efficiency and viability in different evaluation models. Now he is excited to join the Zaidel-Bar lab, where he can find both challenge and achievement in exploring the frontiers of the cell-cell adhesion field.
After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Microbiology, Megha pursued a Master’s course in Biotechnology at Pondicherry University, India. Her Master’s project involved characterization of low molecular weight anti-microbial peptides (bacteriocins) produced by marine bacteria and also carried out a metagenomic survey to identify novel bacteriocin genes from marine environments.
Megha joined the Zaidel-bar lab as a Research Assistant in Jan 2011 and has worked on actin regulators at cell-cell adhesions. Among her work is the development of a novel optogenetic tool to photoactivate mDia in cells. Starting August 2012 she is a full time student in the Mechanobiology Graduate Program.
Wei Yung completed his Bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering from National University of Singapore. In his honors dissertation under the co-supervision of Professor James Goh and Professor Wong Hee Kit, he optimized the conditions required for the construction of interbody spinal fusion device using primary adipose stem cells seeded in a biodegradable polycaprolactone/tricalcium sulphate (PCL/TCP) scaffold. Intrigued by the sophistication of cells as robust machines, he decided to venture into the multidisciplinary field of Mechanobiology. After he was enrolled in the Mechanobiology Graduate Program, he joined Dr. Zaidel-Bar’s Cell Adhesion Lab and is currently searching for novel genes involved in regulating C. elegans epidermal morphogenesis.
Thang completed a Bachelor degree in biotechnology from Hanoi University of Technology, Vietnam. Afterward he did his master program in biomedical technology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. He did his internship in development. During this time he joined the lab of Dr. Korswagen to study the mechanism of Wnt secretion by using C. elegans as the model organism. The more he studied C. elegans the more attracted he was by this model organism. His long-lasting attentiveness in developmental biology brought him to cell adhesion lab, where he will be performing as a research assistant under the guidance of Dr. Zaidel Bar, using C.elegans to study the regulation of Rho GTPases during morphogenesis.
Fen Yee obtained her BSc, major in Biomedical Science and Microbiology from the University of Queensland in Australia in 2005. She joined Cancer Science Institute of Singapore NUS since 2006, working on role of aberrant protease activity in the pathogenesis for AML and on lipid phosphatase independent functions of PTEN. Fen Yee now joins the Zaidel-bar lab as a Research Assistant and is excited to use C. elegans as a model to study Cell-cell adhesion and intracellular signaling during early embryogenesis.