BME Distinguished Lecture: Samuel Safran, Weizmann Institute of Science

Samuel Safran, Ph.D.
Room 3201 Natural Sciences II
Samuel Safran, Ph.D.

Weizmann Institute of Science

Title: Mechanical Synchronization of Active Beating Within and Between Cardiomyocytes

Abstract: I will present theoretical models and predictions of how mechanics due to elastic interactions in actively beating heart cells can lead to synchronization of beating both within single cells and between nearby cells. Our research is motivated by recent experiments that show a correlation between the registry of adjacent muscle fibers and the beating strain of a single, embryonic cardiomyocyte and others that show how a mechanical probe can “pace” the phase and frequency of a nearby heart cell. The theory is generic and analytical in nature and focuses on the role of elastically mediated interactions of oscillating active-force dipoles in these cells. For the single cell, the theory successfully maps the registry data to the strain data. Similar ideas are used to predict the conditions under which an oscillating mechanical probe will or will not “pace” the beating of a nearby heart cell.

Bio: Samuel Safran received his doctorate in physics from MIT, followed by a postdoctoral position at Bell Laboratories. From 1980-1990 he served as a senior staff member in the complex fluids physics group of Exxon Research and Engineering in New Jersey. Safran joined the faculty of the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1990 as a professor in the Department of Materials and Interfaces. He has served as dean of the Graduate School and as vice president of the Weizmann Institute. His current research interests in the theory of soft and biological matter focus on cellular response to mechanical stress and domain (“raft”) formation in charged and multicomponent membranes. Recent honors include the de Gennes Lecture Award of the European Physical Journal and the Beller Lectureship of the American Physical Society. He is the author of a graduate level text on the physics of surfaces, interfaces and membranes, translated into Japanese and Chinese.