Collective phases and function in flocks of cancer cells

Ajay Gopinathan
UC Merced  
Thursday, April 27, 2023
3:30 pm
RH 101 + Zoom Seminar


Flocks of birds and schools of fish are delightful and awe-inspiring examples of collective motion that we see in nature, where groups of individuals, each possessing only limited, local information, nevertheless come together and display coordinated motion. This phenomenon also extends to much smaller scales, as in migrating clusters of cells that mediate physiological processes such as embryonic development, wound healing, and cancer metastasis. The collective, co-ordinated motion of cells allows for emergent behaviors unavailable to single cells that are critical for proper function. In this talk, I shall describe our work on modeling such phenomena in cancer cell clusters, highlighting how frustration can arise at the group level because of heterogeneity in behavior among individual cells in the cluster. I shall show how this frustration can be resolved leading to new collective phases of motion that are experimentally observed in malignant lymphocyte clusters and functionally important – enabling robust chemotaxis and “load sharing” among cells.

Zoom link:


Claire Yu