Grad student Zhenhui Liu wins two awards at BPS annual meeting

February 27, 2020

Mechanical engineering graduate student Zhenhui Liu won two awards at the recent Biophysical Society (BSP) 64th Annual Meeting, held February 15-19 in San Diego, California.

In advance of the meeting, Liu received a competitive 2020 Travel Award from the Biophysical Society. During the meeting, Liu was again recognized with the 2020 Student Research Achievement Award for his poster presentation, titled “Unveiling the Trend of Changes in Mechanical Phenotypes between Subpopulations of Isogenic Cancer Cells at Distinct Metastatic Stages.”

Metastasis is the leading cause of cancer-associated deaths. As cancer cells need to overcome certain physical barriers to reach distant sites, cell mobility and deformability play a pivotal role in metastatic progression. To better understand this process, Liu and co-authors examined the changes of cell mechanical phenotype in different metastatic stages. Their results showed that metastasis is a selective process favoring cells with higher motility and deformability. More importantly, they found that circulating tumor cells resemble the parental cells in these aspects, but not lung-metastasis cells. These insights pave the way for future studies into the fundamental mechanisms behind cancer evolution and metastasis.

Liu is currently a third-year graduate student working with his advisor Prof. Ishan Barman, as well as Prof. Yun Chen. His research efforts are directed towards characterizing and understanding cancer metastasis through a combination of optical and mechanical techniques.


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