Institute for the Physics of Living Systems


IOP Tom Duke Prize Lecture on Biological Physics - Prof. Pietro Cicuta (University of Cambridge)

30 November 2022, 3:00 pm–5:00 pm

Pietro Cicuta

Title: Waves where physics meet biology: collective states of motile cilia

Event Information

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G21 Ramsay LT
Christopher Ingold Building
20 Gordon Street

Abstract: Every few years there is a wave of interactions between physics and life sciences, characterised by some new concept or technology. I will briefly overview what I think are the most exciting synergies in this space at the moment, and how they owe much to the pioneering work of Tom Duke. I will then present our rfecent work on micro-cilia, which in a different context was already a topic identified by Tom to have extremely rich physics and physiological importance.

Motile cilia are active filaments present on the surface of various human organs (e.g. the lung and brain epithelia), where they perform crucial functions by driving surface flows. Structurally, they are conserved across the eukaryotes. Cilia can affect each other, for example leading to phase locking of their beating, by the forces they exert on each other through the fluid and in some cases through the cell cytoskeleton.
Some beautiful physics has been developed by various teams in the last decade to understand how the details of beating on each cilium can lead to specific phase locking, and to the emergence of collective waves. In recent work we have explored the role of external flows, both oscillatory and constant. Analogies can be drawn between these flows and the effect of external magnetic fields in magnetic systems.

We present both experimental results, and numerical explorations of a simple class of ”rower” models of motile cilia.

Pietro Cicuta Talk

Host: Bart Hoogenboom

This lecture will be followed with a drinks reception in the Nyholm Room in the Christopher Ingold Building.

About the Speaker

Prof. Pietro Cicuta

at University of Cambridge

More about Prof. Pietro Cicuta