Epithelial Mechanobiology Lab

Indian Institute of Science

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Epithelial Mechanobiology Lab (EMLAB)

Department of BioEngineering

Indian Institute of Science

Our aim is to understand the fundamental principles behind the origin of diseases in epithelial tissues. We ask, “How do changes in cellular mechanics switch epithelia from a healthy state to a diseased state?” Our current focus is on cancer initiation and wound healing.

We combine bioengineering with cell & molecular biology and perform live microscopy to dynamically study cellular mechanics in epithelial tissues as the tissue transition from a healthy to a diseased state. We also employ automated cell segmentation and tracking to obtain dynamic changes in the shape and movement of cells. Additionally, we use 4D traction force microscopy to compute the force that cells apply to their surroundings.

Ongoing Research

Chaos within the tissue

Cells within the tissue are genotypically similar but show a chaotic biochemical and physical landscape at any given instant. Why do our cells need this heterogeneity? Is heterogeneity just noise or does this have a physiological relevance? We study the crosstalk between biochemical and physical heterogeneity within epithelial monolayers to understand its role in tissue remodelling and cancer initiation.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer majorly originates in the milk-producing lobules of the mammary breast. These lobules are of epithelial origin, spherical in shape and surrounded by a basement membrane. We ask, How does cancer originate in these lobules? Why does the incidence of breast cancer increase as we age?

To address these questions, we make organoids of breast acini in the lab mimicking aged Vs normal breast tissue. We then sporadically transform healthy tissue cells into oncogenic mutants to study the cellular mechanisms underlying cancer initiation.

Oral Cancer

The most common form of oral cancer, oral squamous cell carcinoma originates in the epithelium of the oral mucosa. This oral epithelium is packed as a stratified layer of epithelial cells over the submucosal layer made largely of collagen, and laminin. A pre-cancer condition called oral submucosal fibrosis greatly modifies this submucosal layer and appears in populations with a habit of chewing betel nuts and tobacco. How does this pre-cancer condition allow cancer cells to grow in the epithelial layer? We make organotypic models of oral mucosa to explore this problem at a cellular level.

Our Team

Medhavi Vishwakarma, PhD

Principal Investigator

Sindhu M

PhD Student

Amrapali Datta

PhD Student

Chandan Shringi

PhD Student

Hrishikesh Kumbar

M.Tech Project Student

Tanishq Tejaswi

MS Project Student

Tanya Chhabra

Research Associate

Bhargavi Sridharan

Research Associate


Our Collaborators


Join Us

We are actively seeking highly motivated and talented individuals to join our lab as PhD students or postdoctoral fellows. Our research program provides exciting opportunities to contribute to cutting-edge projects at the forefront of Mechanobiology, and to collaborate with a dynamic team of scientists. With state-of-the-art facilities and a collaborative research environment, we offer excellent opportunities for professional development and scientific discovery. Join us in our mission to make a positive impact on society through science!

PhD Positions Postdocs
Research Interns - Feel free to write to us for potential opportunities.

Latest News

Bhargavi joined the lab as Research Associate

Oct 2023

Tanishq joined the lab for M.Sc. project work

June 2023

Gokul joined the lab for Summer Internship

June 2023

Medhavi received the prestigious WISER Indo-German Grant Award from IGSTC

May 2023

Aditya, Divija and Sanjana joined the lab for Summer Internship;
Akashar Joined the lab for M.Sc. project work

May 2023

Sindhu received the EMBO travel grant to attend the conference "Physics of living systems: From physical principles to biological function" at Germany

May 202

Medhavi received the Infosys Young Investigator Award 2023

April 2023

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BE Annexe, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560012


+91-80-2293-3709 (O)