Director's Colloquium

MECHANOBIOLOGY OF LIFE - Elucidating, emulating and engineering nature’s emergent properties at the interface of mechanics and biology

Professor Melissa Knothe Tate
Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering
University of New South Wales

Starting from a single fertilised egg, the emergent complexity of the biosystem comprising the over 30 trillion cells of the adult human body is nothing short of miraculous. In recent years, the indisputable role of mechanical cues in this process has spawned the field of multiscale mechanobiology. Unravelling connections, between subcellular events and emergent tissue and organ architectures that pattern the whole organism, provides an unprecedented means to understand engineering paradigms underpinning our own bodies' multiscale structure and function. It also enables the engineering of advanced functional materials that mimic the body's own, as well as next generation medical devices and therapies that harness physiological activities to deliver drugs and biologics. This talk outlines the power of paired multiscale imaging and computational technologies to unlock and emulate nature's mechanobiological secrets to understand, prevent and treat musculoskeletal disease and to develop advanced materials.

Professor Melissa Knothe Tate is an internationally recognised leader in the fields of multiscale mechanobiology as well as the development and clinical translation of novel technologies and materials. Trained as a mechanical engineer, biologist and biomedical engineer at world leading institutions in Palo Alto, California and Zurich, Switzerland. She is recognised as one of Australia's most Innovative Engineers 2017 for her geospatial and navigation approaches (using Google Maps) to understand the cellular inhabitants of complex biosystems including the human hip. Her recognition as an elected Fellow of Engineers Australia, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Society for Mechanical Engineering, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering give an indication of her recognition among peers in the top tier of the field. Mentoring and cultivation of talent and innovation are particularly important to Prof. Knothe Tate, who has designed and debuted curricula to engineer innovation with cohorts as diverse as Indigenous children, Harvard engineering undergraduates, and doctoral trainees in multiscale modelling at University of Paris Est. 


Date & time

Tue 5 Sep 2017, 12–1pm



Leonard Huxley Lecture Theatre


Staff, students and public welcome