cafe scientifique


David Odde and Carl Flink

How do cells crawl?

Understanding the migration of cells through the movements of humans

7:30 pm, Thursday 30 April 2015   |   Atta Galatta

Cell migration is a normal part of human development and immune function. However, cancer cell can become highly migratory and thereby drive tumor progression. We would like to understand how cell migration, which resembles a crawling process, occurs at the molecular-cellular level so that we can predict, and ultimately limit, tumor progression. I will present an overview of the mechanics of cell migration and the methods that we are using to study the process, including a new dance movement-based methodology we call “Bodystorming,” which I am engaged in with University of Minnesota Prof. Carl Flink, Artistic Director of the Black Label Movement Dance Company. Finally, I will outline how these findings may improve cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

David Odde and Carl Flink


David Odde: David is a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota who studies the mechanics of cell division and migration. His group builds computer models of cellular and molecular self-assembly dynamics, and tests them using digital imaging of cells in engineered microenvironments. Current applications include the modeling of chemotherapeutic effects on cell division, and crawling of cancer cells through the brain. Ultimately, his group seeks to use the models to perform virtual screens of potential therapeutic strategies.

Odde is an elected Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). He served as the inaugural Co-Editor-In-Chief of the journal Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, and also serves on the editorial boards of Biophysical Journal, Convergent Science Physical Oncology, Current Biology, Physical Biology, and Technology. He also serves as a standing member of the NIH Study Section on Modeling and Analysis of Biological Systems.

PLINKCarl Flink: Artistic director of the MN based dance company Black Label Movement (BLM), Carl Flink’s awards include a 2014 MN Sage Award, 2008 and 2012 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Choreography, a 2012 regional Emmy Award, 2010 and 2012 MN Ivey Awards and being named the Twin Cities City Pages 2012 Best Choreographer. During the 1990s, he was a member of the Limón Dance Company and Creach/Koester Men Dancing, among others. He is the Nadine Jette Sween Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota.

Featured in Dance Magazine’s January 2014 issue, Flink’s dancemaking is recognized for intense athleticism, daring and humanistic themes. He was a commissioned choreographer for the 2014 American Dance Festival Footprints Series and the Director of Movement for Joe Dowling’s 2015 production of “The Crucible” at the Twin Cities’ Guthrie Theater. His work has also been presented by the Bates Dance Festival, TED, TEDMED, TEDx Brussels, Theater Latté Da (Mpls, MN), the Chicago Humanities Festival, The MN Orchestra, Company C Contemporary Ballet (San Francisco, CA) and Same Planet Different World (Chicago, IL), as well as, dance programs such as the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, UC – Irvine, University of Utah, and the University of North Texas.  

Flink’s ongoing collaboration with biomedical engineer David Odde at UMN Institute for Advanced Study is called The Moving Cell Project (MCP). July 2013, Flink joined Odde for the second time at The Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA to work with scientists on their research technique called “bodystorming.” MCP also includes Flink’s collaboration with Science Magazine correspondent John Bohannon. Flink, Bohannon and BLM created “A Modest Proposal: Dance v. Powerpoint” featured on MCP has produced three other TED Talks and a presentation for the 2013 Better with Pets Summit. He holds a Stanford Law School JD and was a staff attorney with Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc. in St. Paul, MN from 2001-2004.

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