q-bio Summer School and Conference, 2022

Prof. Ashok Prasad

Dr. Ashok Prasad 

Department: Chemical & Biological Engineering 

University: Colorado State University

Invited Seminar: Blobs of matter: cell morphology and cell state Date: Thursday June 9 @ 09:00 – 10:00 Abstract: Different types of cells typically look quite different from each other. Even when cultured on two-dimensional surfaces like glass slides or tissue culture polystyrene under identical conditions, cells adopt different shapes. These shapes are in general functions of the cytoskeletal properties of those cells, itself a subset of what we can call the “state” of the cell. Thus, we hypothesize that there should be a mapping between cell state and cell shape. In this talk I describe some of our work exploring this mapping. We have imaged thousands of cells in different experimental conditions and use a large number of morphological parameters to quantify cell shape and cytoskeletal morphology. Using these we show that quantifiers of cell shape and cytoskeletal texture can be used to discriminate between different cell states.  Projections of the data to lower-dimensional shape space can be used to distinguish between similar and dissimilar changes in shape.  Pharmacological drugs that perturb the cytoskeletal can also be identified by morphological changes. We show that we can distinguish between cells that differ by a single inserted gene mutation. Our results show that cellular images are information-rich and can be used as a single cell assay of cell state. Supplemental information: Presenter Biosketch: Dr. Ashok Prasad did a B.Sc in Physics, followed by a MA in Economics, both from Delhi University, India. He then taught economics in a college in Delhi University till 2001. In 2001 he joined Brandeis University as a graduate student in physics, working with the Kondev group, where he worked on bio-inspired problems in soft matter. From 2006 he was a postdoc in the Chakraborty group at MIT, where he modeled the activation of T cells. Since joining Colorado State University in 2009, his research interests have expanded to include cell shape and cellular mechanics, theoretical biology, plant synthetic biology, machine-learning methods for cancer therapy and metabolic modeling. Presenter Website: PrasadLab Presenter Email: Ashok.Prasad@colostate.edu