Peter Basser heads the Section on Tissue Biophysics and Biomimetics, which strives to understand fundamental relationships between functional properties of soft tissues and their structure in vivo, in "engineered" tissue constructs, and in tissue analogs (e.g., polymer gels). This is achieved by studying complex biological processes and structure/function relationships in an integrative fashion, i.e., by probing a hierarchy of length and time scales, as well as developing and studying an array of biological, mathematical, physical, and computational models and model systems. The Section produced a method based on anomalous X-ray scattering to measure the ion distribution around charged biopolymer molecules and built a tissue micro-osmometer that permits continuous monitoring of water uptake of small specimens. The Section also developed an experimental method to map the elastic properties of tissues and cells. STBB staff invent, develop, and implement novel quantitative in vivo methods for imaging tissues and organs. In particular, they develop and apply new quantitative MRI methodologies to probe tissue microstructure and architectural organization, particularly in the brain. Examples include methods to measure the axon diameter distribution within nerve fascicles and MRI approaches to characterize features of gray matter for architectonic (Brodmann) parcellation of the cerebral cortex in vivo. From a clinical and translational perspective, STBB is involved in a wide array of MRI-based studies to migrate these promising new technologies from "bench to bedside".
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