Ken Yamada, NIH - Cellular Movement and Assembly

Uploaded by IRPNIH on 13.12.2012

>> I'm a Senior Investigator, and, or actually,
I'm an NIH Distinguished Investigator,
and our job here is just to do research.
We look at the interactions of cells
with the extracellular matrix and the two-way information flow
that takes place, where the three-dimensional extracellular
matrix can regulate a behavior of individual cells,
but then cells themselves modify the local microenvironment.
And these are quite important in cell migration, in formation
of organs in embryonic development,
in adult wound repair, and, of course,
in cancer where you have cells that use some
of these same processes but for tumor invasion.
These are dissociated mouse salivary gland cells,
and they actually undergo this spontaneous aggregation.
You can see them aggregating;
smaller aggregates will actually join the larger aggregates,
so this is sort of a self-assembly process.
You can watch them compact.
And then what's particularly interesting is
that they can then go on to start
to undergo this branching process, which is important
in embryonic development.
In the back of our minds is always the issue of, you know,
how can we help patients, and --
so just to take this as an example,
this is a mouse salivary gland.
It's been disaggregated, but, in fact if you imagine,
let's say with patients who have problems after radiation therapy
to the head and neck, they lose salivary gland function,
they have all kinds of oral sores,
other disorders, caries, tooth decay.
And what we would ultimately like to be able to do is
to develop an artificial salivary gland.
And several of us actually collaborated for a patent
on an artificial salivary gland to make
that technology available, you know,
so that it doesn't belong just to one company.
Here's one of our microscopes.
It's a spinning disk confocal microscope, and it's surrounded
by an environmental box,
where we can maintain constant temperature and humidity
and film three-dimensional cultures, for example,
cells or developing organs in this environmental chamber.
So I think the most enjoyable part is, in fact,
the ability to discover new things without having
to follow a written script.
In other words, we don't have to stick closely to, let's say,
an R01 grant series of specific aims.
If necessary, if we think it's sufficiently important,
we can branch out, we can go in new directions just
by choosing ourselves to do it.
We're ultimately held responsible, of course,
for what we produce, but we have these resources and the freedom
to explore new directions, and I think that's the most fun part,
and, of course, working with the younger investigators
who are enthusiastic, have wonderful new ideas.
So it's very enjoyable.