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  • Dr.  Assaf Zemel
2005 Hebrew University of Jerusalem , Ph. D
2007 Weizmann Institute of Science, Postdoctoral Fellow
2008 University of California Davis, Postdoctoral Fellow
2008 Hebrew University of Jerusalem, lecturer
Specialization: Theoretical Biophysics

Research Interests and projects:

Mechanical and geometrical features such as the cell shape and rigidity of the cellular surroundings play a central role in the regulation of cellular processes such as cell division and differentiation ; they also play an important role in the development of tissues and in the onset of cancer and other pathological states and diseases.
We study the underlying physical (mechanical) principles that govern the response of cells to mechanical cues in their surroundings using tools of elasticity theory and condensed matter physics. This includes phenomena such as cell adhesion, establishment of cell shape and cytoskeleton structure, elastic interactions of cells, patterning, aggregation and alignment of cells. Using computer simulations we also study the interaction of motor proteins and cytoskeleton filaments that produce forces and movements of cells including, stress-fiber assembly, axonal growth and blood platelet formation.

Recent publications:

  • A. Zemel, A. Ben-Shaul and S. May. , Perturbation of a lipid membrane by amphipathic peptides and its role in pore formation, Eur. Biophys. J. 34: 230-242 (2005).
  • A. Zemel , I. B. Bischofs and S. A. Safran., Active elasticity of gels with contractile cells .", Phys. Rev. Lett., 97: 128103 (2006).
  • A. Zemel , and S. A. Safran., Active self-polarization of contractile cells in asymmetrically shaped domains , Phys. Rev. E, 76: 021905 (2007).
  • R. De, A. Zemel and S. A. Safran, Dynamics of cell orientation ,Nature Physics, 3: 655-659 (2007).
  • R. De, A. Zemel, S. A. Safran, Do cells sense stress or strain? Measurement of cellular orientation can provide a clue , Biophys. J. Lett, 94: L29-L31 (2008).
  • A. Zemel, A. Ben-Shaul and S. May, Modulation of the spontaneous curvature and bending rigidity of lipid membranes by interfacially adsorbed amphipathic peptides , J. Phys. Chem. B, 112: 6988–6996 (2008).
  • A. Zemel and A. Mogilner, Expansion and polarity sorting in microtubule-dynein bundles , Prog. Theor. Phys. Supp. 173: 17-25 (2008).
  • A. Zemel and A. Mogilner, "Motor-induced sliding of microtubule and actin bundles" ,Advanced Article, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. DOI: 10.1039/b818482h (2009).
  • R. De, A. Zemel and S. A. Safran , “Orientational polarizability and stress response of biological cells”,Proceedings of the IUTAM Symposiumon Cellular, Molecular and Tissue Mechanics , Springer Publishers, in press (2009).
  • A. Zemel, F. Rehdfeldt, A. Brown, D. Discher and S. A. Safran “Cell shape, spreading symmetry and the polarization of stress-fibers in cells” ,J. Phys.: Condensed Matter , in press , (2009).
  • A. Zemel, F. Rehdfeldt, A. Brown, D. Discher and S. A. Safran “Optimal matrix rigidity for stress-fiber polarization in stem cells”,Nature Physics, accepted (2009).
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