Dr. Lammerding joined Cornell University in 2011 after six years on the faculty in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he received the Department of Medicine Young Investigator Award, the Cardiovascular Leadership Group Award, and the Lerner Young Investigator Award. During that time, he also served three years as lecturer in the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Lammerding completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Brigham and Women's Hospital in the Cardiovascular Division. Originally from Germany, Dr. Lammerding studied mechanical engineering at the University of Technology (RWTH) Aachen, encompassing a fellowship to study at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, before moving to the U.S. to enroll in the newly founded Ph.D. program in Biological Engineering at MIT.
Cells in the human body are continuously exposed to large physical forces and deformations. Examples include contracting muscle cells, cells in tendons, bones and cartilage, but also neutrophils or metastatic cancer cells that pass through narrow capillaries, exit blood vessels, and squeeze through dense tissues to reach distant sites in the body. Consequently, mutations that alter the mechanical properties of cells or their ability to withstand physical stress can result in debilitating diseases or facilitate the spreading of cancer.
The research in the Lammerding Lab is focused on developing and applying novel experimental techniques to investigate this important interplay between cellular structure and function, with a particular emphasis on the cell nucleus. Inherited or novel mutations in nuclear proteins are responsible for a large number of human diseases, ranging from muscular dystrophies and cardiovascular disease to premature aging. Altered expression of nuclear envelope proteins have also been reported in several cancers, where they could modulate the ability of the normally stiff cell nucleus to deform and thereby promote the invasion and metastasis of cancer cells.
Our interdisciplinary team is combining bioengineering approaches with cell and molecular biology techniques to design experimental assays to probe how such changes in cellular structure and mechanics can result in human disease. Specific examples include microfluidic devices to rapidly probe the mechanical properties of cells and to assess the ability of cancer cells to pass through narrow constrictions, as well as micro-engineered substrates to study the differentiation and maturation of normal and mutant stem cells. In addition, we are developing molecular tension sensors that will enable us to measure the molecular forces transmitted between the cell and the nucleus, which is highly relevant to the normal function of muscle cells and to the invasion of cancer cells. These in vitro studies are complemented by studies on mouse models of human diseases to assess the relevance of our findings in vivo. Insights gained from these studies will improve our understanding of normal cellular function and can offer important clues into the development of new treatment approaches for muscular dystrophies, cardiovascular disease, premature aging, and cancer.
- 2013. "Myopathic lamin mutations impair nuclear stability in cells and tissue and disrupt nucleocytoskeletal coupling." Hum. Molecular Genetics . .
- 2013. "Nuclear envelope composition determines the ability of neutrophil-type cells to passage through micron-scale constrictions." J Biol Chem . .
- 2011. "Nuclear Mechanics During Cell Migration." Current Opinion in Cell Biology 23 (1): 55-64. .
- 2009. "Mechanotransduction gone awry." Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 10 (1): 63-73. .
- 2012. "Lamins at a Glance". 125 (9) 2087-2093. Journal of Cellular Science. .
Selected Awards and Honors
- Cardiovascular Leadership Group Investigation Award (Brigham and Women's Hospital, Department of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division) 2009
- Lerner Symposium Young Investigator Award (Brigham and Women's Hospital, Department of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division) 2008
- Hearst Young Researchers Award (Brigham and Women's Hospital, Department of Medicine) 2006
- Nominee for the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences (Brigham and Women's Hospital) 2006
- Scientist Development Grant - Declined (American Heart Association, Northeast Regional Center) 2006
- BE (Biomechanical engineering and computational modeling), Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, 1997
- Dipl. Ing (Mechanical, thermal, and biomedical engineering), RWTH Aachen University, 1999
- Ph D (Biological engineering), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 2004