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Seminar: Steven Abel, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Title: "Antigen Recognition at Immune-Cell Surfaces: Probing the Role of Mechanical Forces."

One of the central problems in immunology involves molecular recognition at cell-cell interfaces. T cells and B cells directly engage other cells and use surface receptors to identify molecular signatures of pathogens. Fascinating recent experiments have revealed that mechanical forces regulate processes by which T cells and B cells distinguish between self and foreign ligands, but a unifying theoretical framework is missing. In this talk, Steve Abel will discuss his group’s work at the interface of statistical mechanics and biology. In the context of immunology, they develop hybrid computational models that account for key biophysical properties of immune-cell interfaces, including stochastic receptor-ligand binding kinetics, membrane mechanics, and actin-mediated forces on the membrane. They use these models to investigate how mechanical forces modulate the interactions of T cells and B cells with surface-presented ligands. Their results elucidate purely physical mechanisms that may enhance antigen discrimination by immune cells, and he will conclude the talk by highlighting open questions in mechanoimmunology that theoretical approaches can help to address.

Steve Abel received a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and was a postdoctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his undergraduate education at Rice University, where he earned a BS in Chemical Physics, a BA in Mathematics, and a BA in Physics. Abel’s group investigates fundamental problems in cell biology and immunology using theoretical and computational methods rooted in statistical mechanics. Interests include antigen recognition by immune cells, membrane and polymer biophysics, intracellular transport, and stochasticity in biochemical reaction networks. Much of his work is carried out in close collaboration with experimentalists. Abel has been recognized as a recipient of an NSF CAREER award, the Outstanding Teacher Award in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and the Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor of the Year Award in the Tickle College of Engineering.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Dougherty Engineering Building, 416
1512 Middle Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations




Current Students, Faculty & Staff, General Public


CBE Seminar, CBE Fall 2019

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
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