University of Minnesota


Alford Lab

Our lab's work focuses on the mechanics of actively adaptive tissues. Many cells and tissues are exposed to dynamic mechanical perturbations, which require constant feedback by those cells to maintain their integrity and functionality. The study of cells' sensing and adaptation to mechanical stimuli is called mechanotransduction. Recent research has shown that mechanotransduction plays a role in a wide range of biological processes, from early embryonic development to sound perception to cancer metastasis.

Our lab takes a multimodal approach to understanding mechanotransduction and mechano-adaptation in soft tissues. We employ microfabrication and tissue engineering approaches to construct in vitro tissues that mimic the structure and function of native tissue, but in a highly controlled setting, allowing us to probe the force-feedback behavior of the tissues in the absence of other remodeling inducing stimuli found in vitro. Combined with theoretical models, our engineered tissues can be used to tease out the relationship between mechanical force and cellular responses, such as contraction, migration, and protein and gene expression.

We are interested in a wide range of biomechanics problems including aneurysm formation and growth, cerebral vasospasm, and neurotrauma. Our goal is to determine the mechanisms of these mechotransduction related dysfunctions to help guide future therapeutic strategies.

Twin Cities Campus: