Home Events Online Ph.D. Defense: “Micro-Scale Mechanical Properties of Non-Cancerous and Cancerous Human Mammary Epithelial Cells” — December 4, 2020 at 3 PM

Online Ph.D. Defense: “Micro-Scale Mechanical Properties of Non-Cancerous and Cancerous Human Mammary Epithelial Cells” — December 4, 2020 at 3 PM

Mr. Hyunsu Lee, Ph.D. Candidate
Mentors: Professors Keith Bonin and Martin Guthold
Department of Physics
Wake Forest University
Friday, December 4, 2020 at 3:00pm – 5:00 pm
(Private defense will follow public presentation.)
Via Video Conference (contact wfuphys@wfu.edu for link information)


The study of cell mechanics has become an area of great interest over the past 20 years, as it has been shown that the mechanical properties of the cell and the surrounding environment are involved in virtually every cellular process. Cells are designed to sense and respond to the surrounding environment not only biochemically, but also mechanically to perform the function of the cell and maintain homeostasis. Problems in maintaining the internal and external mechanical homeostasis of cells lead to serious diseases such as cancer. Therefore, in addition to biochemical properties, the study of the mechanical properties of cells and the surrounding environment provides new perspectives and help in understanding how tissues and organs of the body develop and the causes of various diseases. Among the many techniques for quantitative measurements of the elastic modulus of cells, the atomic force microscopy is the most widely used technique for adherent cells.

In this study, how cell stiffness is influenced by the cell confluency and the composition of cell culture media is investigated by using a combination of atomic force microscopy, epifluorescence microscopy, and confocal microscopy. The study of the influence of cell confluency on cell stiffness shows that the mechanical properties of primary human mammary epithelial cells vary as the cells transition from single cells to confluency to a mature layer, and the variance in stiffness comes from the distinct actin filament formation in the three different confluency states. The study of the influence of cell culture media composition on cell stiffness shows that stiffness and morphology non-cancerous breast cells significantly change when they are cultured in five different types of culture medium, but in cancerous breast cells cultured in the different media, there is no significant change in stiffness and morphology.


1. “The influence of growth medium composition on the mechanical properties of cells” H.Lee, K.Bonin, M.Guthold In preparation (2020)
2. “Human mamary epithelial cells in a mature mature, stratified epithelial layer flatten and stiffen compared to single and confluent cells” H.Lee, K.Bonin, M.Guthold submitted to Biochim. Biophys. Acta (2020)
3. “Mechanical Properties of Electrospun, Blended Fibrinogen: PCL Nanofibers” J.M. Sharpe, H.Lee, A. Hall, K. Bonin, M. Guthold Nanomaterials 10 1843 (2020)
4. “A simple and robust approach to reducing contact resistance in organic transistors” Z.A. Lamport, K.J. Barth, H. Lee, E. Gann, S. Engmann, H. Chen, M. Guthold, I. McCulloch, J. Anthony, L. Richter, D. DeLongchamp, O.D. Jurchescu Nat. Comm. 9 1 (2018)
5. “Enhanced Charge Transport in Hybrid Perovskite Field‐Effect Transistors via Microstructure Control” A.M. Zeidell, C. Tyznik, L. Jennings, C. Zhang, H. Lee, M. Guthold, Z.V Vardeny, O.D. Jurchescu Adv. Electronic Materials 4 12 (2018)
6. “Solution-Processed Organic and Halide Perovskite Transistors on Hydrophobic Surfaces” J.W Ward, H.L. Smith, A. Zeidell, P.J. Diemer, S. Baker, H. Lee, M.M. Payne, J. Anthony, M. Guthold, O.D. Jurchescu Applied Materials & Interfaces 9 21 (2017)
7. “2D Chalcogenide Nanoplate Assemblies for Thermoelectric Applications” C. Dun, C.A. Hewitt, Q. Li, J. Xu, D.C. Schall, H. Lee, Q. Jiang, D.L. Carroll Adv. Electronic Materials 29 21 (2017)

Printable Version


Dec 04 2020


3:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Martin Guthold