Welcome to the Kasza Living Materials Lab at Columbia University. We are an interdisciplinary group of engineers, biologists, and physicists that work to understand how cells self-organize to build tissues with mechanical and structural properties that are required for proper function. We study this problem in the context of embryonic development to uncover fundamental mechanisms of how cells build tissues in vivo, and we use the fruit fly as a model organism. The goal is to use this fundamental understanding both to shed light on human health and disease and also to learn how to better build tissues in the lab.
Confocal microscope movie showing elongation of the head-to-tail axis of the Drosophila embryo. Cell membranes are labeled with GFP. Mechanical forces generated by the cells drive the tissue to dramatically reorganize and change shape in just 30 minutes.