Welcome to the Leckband Group!

Multidisciplinary Scientists!

Our research focuses on biological processes at interfaces. Why study this? Biochemical reactions at interfaces are ubiquitous in biology and in biotechnology, but interfacial environments differ radically from bulk solution where most proteins are studied. This raises several questions: What’s special about interfaces? How can we study interfaces at the protein scale? How do interfacial environments affect biomacromolecule function? How can we exploit this information to solve problems in industry and the clinic?

Surface Force Apparatus

We build on our extensive expertise in molecular scale studies of biomaterial interfaces, immobilized proteins, and cell adhesion molecules. Our research has both fundamental and practical significance, and focuses on the following three areas.

Protein-Polymer Binding

Biointerfaces. We use molecular scale force measurements to quantify nanoscale force fields at interfaces and establish the molecular basis of material interactions with biological molecules and cells. We are developing innovative, analytical approaches to establish how interfacial environments alter immobilized protein folding stability and function. Projects address  biomaterial design, drug delivery, biosensors, and functional hybrid biomaterials.

Cell Adhesion and Molecular Biophysics. Cells are the fundamental building blocks of tissues, but it’s the biochemical glue (adhesion proteins) that controls the organization of all multicellular organisms.   Our studies of intercellular adhesion proteins reveal  how protein nanomachines bind cells together, transmit force, or control cell adhesion and differentiation in hybrid biomaterials. Our quantitative approaches range from atomistic simulations to quantitative measurements of cell adhesion. Studies are identifying novel mechanisms of bioadhesion and exploiting these findings in neural and vascular tissue engineering.

Simulating Force Transduction

Mechano-Biology. Cells sense the mechanical properties of their micro-environment through cell surface adhesion proteins. Our research on biological force transduction is making ground-breaking discoveries that reveal how the extracellular microenvironment regulates tissue physiology and contributes to disease. Research integrates protein biophysics, cell mechanics, and tissue engineering. We also engineer devices and analytical tools to explore the interplay between mechanics and tissue functions. Current projects focus on cardiovascular disease, neural regeneration, and tumorigenesis, and involve collaborations with clinicians, cell biologists, and tissue engineers.

We are a dynamic, multidisciplinary team looking for new members who want to make a difference in healthcare.