Dr. Zaidel-Bar – Principal Investigator

Dr. Ronen Zaidel-BarRonen Zaidel-Bar – Principal Investigator

His fascination with the molecular mechanics of cell adhesion and the cytoskeleton began as a graduate student at the Weizmann Institute of Science. With Prof. Benny Geiger as my mentor, he used live-cell fluorescence microscopy to study the assembly dynamics of cell-matrix adhesions, elucidating the roles of force and phosphorylation in their regulation. Most of his PhD was focused on molecular mechanisms pertaining to specific proteins, but toward the end they took a more holistic approach and introduced to the field the now well-accepted concept of the “integrin adhesome”.

Awarded an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award to pursue postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he continued his investigation of cell adhesion in the context of a developing embryo. Under the guidance of Prof. Jeff Hardin he harnessed the power of genetics and live-embryo imaging to elucidate the role of several novel cell-cell junction proteins and actin regulators in C. elegans. In parallel, he continued to explore the adhesome at the system level, including from an evolutionary perspective.

In 2010 he was offered the opportunity to lead an independent research group at the interdisciplinary Mechanobiology Institute (headed by Prof. Mike Sheetz), supported by a grant from the Singapore National Research Foundation (under the NRF fellowship program). In parallel he was also appointed as an assistant professor in the department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore. Combining his experience in both mammalian cell adhesion and C. elegans genetics his group exploits the natural synergy between the two to address key mechanobiological questions.

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Dr. Anup Padmanabhan – Postdoc

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.

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Dr. Regha Kakkad – Research Associate

Regha did her Ph.D. from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, India. After this, she did postdoctoral research in the lab of Prof. Denise Barlow at the Center for Molecular Medicine, Vienna, where she worked on epigenetic modifications associated with imprinted genes. She then joined the lab of Prof. Constanze Bonifer at the University of Birmingham, UK, and studied the  effect of expression of leukaemia-associated oncoproteins in early hematopoiesis. This lead to an interest in the regulation of cell adhesion and migration and she joined Zaidel-Bar lab to pursue it further.

Regha Kakkad

Regha Kakkad

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Dr. Priti Agarwal – Postdoc

priti_croppedPriti did her PhD in the area of genetics and developmental biology with  Dr. K. Subramaniam at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India. Her graduate studies were focused on understanding meiosis: a specialized type of differentiation germ cells undergo to form mature gametes – oocytes and sperm, using C. elegans as a model organism. While studying the role of biochemical signals during germ cell development, she became interested in the biomechanical signals required for continuous formation of mature oocytes and sperm. This motivated her to analyze the biophysical features of the C. elegans germline and further, to explore how mechanical forces conjoin with biochemical signals to determine the structure and function of the germline. She joined Dr. Zaidel-Bar’s lab to achieve to this goal.





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Kriti Sethi – Postdoc

kritiKriti developed an interest in fission yeast cytokinesis during a research project at Dr. Chris McInerny’s laboratory during her Master’s degree at University of Glasgow. With an interest in understanding how actomyosin ring contraction and division septum synthesis are coupled in fission yeast, she joined Prof Mohan Balasubramanian’s laboratory at Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory for her PhD studies. During this time she became interested in understanding how contractility is regulated and coordinated at a tissue-level. With this aim, she will be focussing on actomyosin contractility in the spermatheca at the Zaidel-Bar lab.








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DING Wei Yung – Graduate student

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.

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Leeba Ann Chacko – Graduate student

Leeba Ann ChackoLeeba graduated her bachelors of engineering with a degree in biotechnology. For her final year project, she had the opportunity to work at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore where she studied predator prey interactions in the context of refugee seeking behavior.

On graduating, she had the opportunity of working at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore for a year where she worked with Dr. Vaishnavi Ananthanarayanan. Here she was exposed to various projects. One of them involved understanding what goes on in the nucleus of mesenchymal stem cells as they differentiate into osteoblasts when grown on nanofibrous scaffolds. Another project she worked on involved understanding the role of certain membranous anchor proteins in the process of nuclear oscillations that occurs during fission yeast meiotic cell division.

Having been exposed to cutting edge microscopy techniques and studies on dynamic processes that occur within a cell, she decided to pursue a PhD in the field of Mechanobiology. She joined Dr. Ronen Zaidel Bar’s lab and is currently working on characterizing the role of formins during early C. elegans embryogenesis.


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Dr. Cristina Bertocchi – Postdoc.

Aishwarya Srinivasan – Research assistant.

 Thang Doan – Research assistant

Dr. Yemima Budirahardja – postdoc


LIM Jia Sheng, Jason – Research Assistant


Guo Zhenhuan (Gary) – Research Assistant

Wu Yao – Graduate student

Pei Yi TAN – Graduate student

Megha Vaman Rao


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