Dr. 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.