• Collective Migration

    We are building novel tension sensors and creating new analysis tools to characterize the spatial and temporal dynamics of mechanosensitive signaling during collective cell migration.

  • Automated Multi-cell Analysis

    The Hoffman Lab combines micropatterning techniques with computational algorithms to study mechanical properties of model tissues.  This system could be useful for studying biological mechanisms such as the epithelial-mesenchymal transitional, an important aspect of embryogenesis and cancer metastisis.

  • FRET-based Tension Sensors

    We create biosensors that report the load across specific proteins through changes in the light they emit. Computational analysis of our FRET-based biosensors allows investigation of the spatio-temporal dynamics of forces across proteins within living cells.

  • Cell and Molecular Mechanobiology Lab

    Our group is located on the 1st floor of the Fitzpatrick Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine, and Applied Sciences (FCIEMAS) at Duke University.  Check out our exciting research here.

  • Microscopy Techniques

    The Hoffman Lab utilizes cutting-edge FRET-based biosensors and live cell imaging to study the role of forces on the dynamics and activity of specific proteins in living cells.

Welcome to the Hoffman Laboratory

The overall goals of the Cell and Molecular Mechanobiology Lab are to utilize an interdisciplinary approach to advance the fundamental understanding of mechanotransduction and then to utilize this knowledge to guide the development of new treatments for mechanosensitive diseases.

Our work combines principles and techniques from fields such as:

  • Protein engineering
  • Molecular biology
  • Soft matter physics
  • Cell and developmental biology
  • Biomaterials engineering
  • Automated image analysis
  • Live cell microscopy

Specifically, we engineer and use biosensors that report the tension across particular proteins in living cells through changes in the color of light they emit. This technology enables dynamic measurements of the loads supported by specific proteins and sub-cellular structures. Unlike more traditional techniques which measure the entirety of cellular force output, the ability of our sensors to measure mechanical force at the molecular level means they are innately compatible with concepts and approaches common in molecular biology and biophysics. We hope these molecular-scale insights will lead to advances in the understanding of mechanosensitive diseases, which include atherosclerosis, muscular dystrophies, and some types of cancer.

Positions Available

Graduate students interested in the Hoffman Lab's research should apply to the Duke Biomedical Engineering (BME) PhD Program.  For additional inquiries, please contact Dr. Hoffman.