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Deans' Lecture on the Broader Impacts of Basic Science: The Importance of Communication: From Stadium Waves to the Heart

Andrea Liu
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Friday, October 12, 2018
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3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
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Andrea Liu (University of Pennsylvania)

Deans' Lecture on the Broader Impacts of Basic Science - "The Importance of Communication: From Stadium Waves to the Heart" - Individuals need communication to act collectively. Collective action can be impressive, as in a stadium wave, and it can be essential, as in our heartbeats. With each beat, cells contract sequentially to generate a wavefront of contraction that propagates across the heart to pump blood. How does one cell signal to another that it is time to contract? In the stadium you use your eyes to know when to stand up. Adult heart cells signal each other electrically (hence electrical defibrillators). Despite the different modes of communication in stadium waves and heartbeats, the two phenomena actually share common physics. We have discovered that the embryonic heart-the first functional organ in the developing embryo--also exploits the same physics but that the cells initially communicate mechanically, not electrically. | A reception will be held following the event in the atrium of Gross 107.

Contact: Cristin Paul