The goal of this proposal to develop a first of its kind acoustically driven quantitative phase microscopy (QPM) rheology
system. Mechanical forces play an important role in physiology and pathology. Mechanical, electrical, and chemical
phenomena govern all processes in cellular systems such as signaling, differentiation, migration, and apoptosis. Cellular
mechanics play important roles in normal physiological processes but perhaps more importantly in numerous abnormal
pathological processes. Mechanical environment have been demonstrated to regulate stem cell differentiation; embryo
development is guided by many mechanical clues. In pathological processes, stiffening of red blood cell membrane is a
factor in driving vaso-occlusive crisis in sickle cell disease and malaria patients. Mechanical forces dysregulation can lead
to hypertrophy of cardiomyocytes that can cause sudden cardiac death, most commonly in young patients. Inflammation
is known to be regulated by mechanical factors and is related to difficulties in treating chronic wounds. The stiffness of
extracellular matrix environment is important in regulating cancer progression and the measurement of cell/tissue
mechanical properties has been proposed as a way to identify resection margins during cancer surgery.
Mechanopharmacology is also known to modulate cellular drug responses. The importance of cellular biomechanics is
well recognized; however, the ability to investigate cellular scale mechanical factors in biology and medicine is limited by
the available measurement tools.