Universiteit Leiden

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This Week's Discoveries | 18 February 2020

Tuesday 18 February 2020
This Week's Discoveries
Niels Bohrweg 2
2333 CA Leiden
De Sitterzaal

First lecture

Hydrodynamics of collective cell migration: the good, the bad and the chiral

Luca Giomi (LION)
Luca is a theoretical physicist and associate professor at LION working at the interface between soft matter and biophysics.

Despite originating from the attempt of describing flow in water, hydrodynamics has now crossed the boundary of classical fluid mechanics and surged as a general theoretical framework for modelling the dynamics of large wavelength and low-frequency excitations in arbitrary continuous media: from electron systems to biological materials. In this talk, I will review our recent theoretical and experimental efforts towards modelling the collective motion of cells at the large scale using active hydrodynamics. In particular, I will focus on the statistics of chaotic motion in spindle-like epithelial cells and on the role of cellular chirality in open and confined environments. 

Second lecture

New discoveries in the snake venom gland.

Michael Richardson (IBL)
Michael is professor of animal development at the Institute of Biology, Leiden University. He is particularly interested in the evolution and development of reptiles, and in the use of their embryos as alternative animal models.

The venom delivery apparatus of snakes includes a fang connected to the venom gland. The gland synthesizes venom: a cocktail of peptide toxins. We have been studying the biological properties, and medical potential, of this remarkable organ. When we analyze venom from a wide range of species we find potent antibacterial peptides in the venom. It is not clear whether these evolved to protect the gland from infection, or whether they are principally functioning as cytotoxins in the animal bitten by the snake. As part of a project with Hans Clevers’ group in Utrecht, we have studied the populations of secretory cells in the venom gland. We find that there is a small number of secretory cell types that secrete different venom fractions. Whether these cells types are fixed populations or represent dynamically-changing populations, remains to be determined.

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