The Joy of Science is Team Science
Meet the Family
David M. Warshaw, Ph.D.
University Distinguished Professor and Chair
I received my B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers University and Ph.D. in Physiology & Biophysics from the University of Vermont. As a postdoc with Fredric Fay at UMass Medical, I studied single smooth muscle cell mechanics. My present research focuses on the structure and function of cardiac muscle contractile proteins as well as non-muscle molecular motors using single molecule biophysical techniques such as laser trapping and super-resolution microscopy. Presently, my lab has two research foci. One area focuses on the molecular mechanism by which myosin binding protein-C modulates cardiac and skeletal muscle contractility, using an in vitro muscle model systems. The other focus is in vitro 3D model systems of intracellular cargo transport by myosin motors. I have been the Principal Investigator of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Program Project Grant focused on the molecular basis of genetic heart failure. I am an Established Investigator and Fellow of the American Heart Association and a Fellow of the Biophysical Society. I have organized numerous International Conferences and Symposia, including the Gordon Conference on “Muscle Contractile Proteins” and was the program co-chair of the Biophysical Society annual meeting. I have and continue to serve on numerous NIH review panels and was a member of the Scientific Advisory Panel for the NIH Nanomedicine Initiative. I have trained 26 pre- and postdoctoral fellows of which 17 have gone on to university faculty positions.
Brandon Bensel, Ph.D.
Kinesin and myosin molecular motors
Proper delivery of vesicular cargoes via intracellular transport is necessary to ensure healthy cellular function. To date, much work has been done to understand the biophysics of molecular motor-based cargo transport in vitro, yet much of this work has been done in 2 dimensions with a single type of motor on a rigid cargo. However, in vivo vesicular transport occurs in 3-dimensional cytoskeletal networks, and vesicular cargoes are often decorated with multiple copies of multiple types of molecular motor. My work aims to understand how teams of multiple kinesin and myosin molecular motors navigate complex 3-dimensional networks of microtubules and actin filaments while bound to fluid-like liposome cargoes. I use purified recombinant motor proteins, purified tubulin and actin, and lab-made liposomes to reconstitute a complex in vitro model system of vesicular cargo transport on a microscope slide. 3D STORM and single-particle tracking are used to characterize cytoskeletal networks and monitor liposome motion with nanometer spatial resolution and <100-millisecond temporal resolution. I also use optical trapping to assess force generation by motor ensembles, and TIRF microscopy for 2D motility experiments. Together these techniques allow me to understand the emergent properties of cargo transport in a more physiological system as compared to classical single molecule studies.
Shane R. Nelson, Ph.D.
Andrew Mead, Ph.D.
Opto-Mechanical Design Engineer