Medhavi Vishwakarma

Hello and welcome to my webpage. Here's a little bit about myself..

I have obtained a PhD in Bioengineering, specifically trained in mechano-biology of epithelial tissues. I am fascinated by how epithelial cells work as a society to carry out important functions such as wound healing and epithelial defense against cancer. I combine mechano-biology and applied cell biology tools with soft matter physics to understand the mechanics and biology of epithelial tissues. 

I am affiliated to the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research as a guest researcher and am associated with Heidelberg Academy of Sciences as a WIN Kolleg. For my full CV, please Click here, and here is a list of my key publications


Collective cell migration

In response to a wound, cells within epithelial tissues display spectacular coordination and perform collective migration towards the gap, requiring cells to interact with their neighbours at both physical and biochemical level. How do epithelial cells orchestrate the complex phenomena of collective cell migration? How do leader cells appear and how is the information to migrate passed on between cells?

Epithelial defense against cancer

Epithelial cells can recognize and remove any neighbours acquiring neoplastic mutations. However, when mutant cells are fitter, they instead kill the host epithelial cells and grow in their space, thereby forming a tumour. Understanding the mechanisms by which cells recognize and respond to neoplastic mutants is key to decipher Epithelial defense against cancer. I am specifically interested in looking at how physical signalling cross talk with biochemical signaling when host cells interact with neoplastic mutants. Can we exploit this knowledge in contemporary cancer therapies?

Heterogeneity and Epithelial function

Recent technological and computational advances have allowed us to describe behaviour of epithelia, using mesoscale physical principles. In such description, similar to a glassy solid or dense particulate matter, epithelial cells are shown to display characteristics of dynamic heterogeneity. In addition to this physical heterogeneity, epithelial cell biology reveal an intrinsic cellular heterogeneity arising from variations in genome and protein expression patterns. Physical and biological heterogeneities in epithelial tissues are likely to be interactive and interdependent, but how? How do they crosstalk to regulate tissue function such as wound healing and Epithelial defense against cancer?