Lance Davidson, Ph.D.

  • Professor and Wellington C. Carl Fellow
  • Department of Bioengineering, Developmental Biology and Systems Biology

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Biophysics, University of California at Berkeley, 1995
  • M.Sc., Experimental Space Science, York University, 1986
  • B.S., Physics, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urban, 1984

Research Interest Summary

Identifying the mechanical design principles of embryonic morphogenesis and applying those principles to engineer tissue self-assembly.

Research Categories

Research Interests

Cells and tissues are shaped by mechanical forces early during development to produce the basic body plan and establish functional organs. Our group combines experimental and theoretical approaches to reverse-engineer these mechanical inherently mechanical processes. In the past few years we have extended principles of morphogenesis gleaned from developing embryos to develop "forward-engineering" principles to advance tissue engineering. For instance, working with Mechanical Engineers at Carnegie Mellon University, Tufts University, and Georgia Tech, we have been evaluating tissue-material interactions using microfabricated structures and microfluidics. Our experimental methods include classical embryological, modern cell biological ones combined with new synthetic systems biology methods. 

Using these tools we have been investigating fundamental processes in tissue self assembly such as: the molecular basis of bulk embryonic tissue mechanical properties, the biomechanical processes that drive tissue elongation during gastrulation, epiboly, and neurulation, the self-organizing principles of actomyosin contractility, the biomechanics of early heart formation and embryonic wound healing, and the mechanical control of mesenchymal to epithelial transition and collective cell migration.

Representative Publications

J. Zhou, S. Pal, S. Maiti, and L. A. Davidson (2015). Force production and mechanical accommodation during convergent extension. Development. 142, 692-701

J. H. Shawky and L.A. Davidson (2015). Tissue mechanics and adhesion during embryo development. Developmental Biology (Special Issue on Adhesion). PMID: 25512299, PMCID: pending

R. Feroze*, J. H. Shawky*, M. von Dassow, and L. A. Davidson (2015). Mechanics of blastopore closure during amphibian gastrulation. (* contributed equally) Developmental Biology. 398(1):57-67. PMID: 25448691, PMCID: 4317491

Y. T. Kim, M. Hazar, D. Vijayraghavan, J. Song, T. R. Jackson, S. D. Joshi, L. A. Davidson§, W. C. Messner§, and P. R. LeDuc§. (2014) Mechanochemical actuators of embryonic epithelial contractility. (§ contributed equally) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111, 14366-14371. PMID: 25246549, PMCID: 4210000

M. von Dassow, C. J. Miller, and L. A. Davidson (2014). Biomechanics and the thermotolerance of development. PLoS ONE. 9: e95670. PMID: 24776615, PMCID: 4002435

C. J. Miller and L. A. Davidson (2013).The interplay between cell signaling and mechanics in developmental processes. Nature Reviews Genetics. 14: 733-744. PMID: 24045690.

S. D. Joshi and L. A. Davidson (2012). Epithelial machines of morphogenesis and their potential application in organ assembly and tissue engineering. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology. 11:1109-21. PMID: 22854913

H. Y. Kim and L. A. Davidson (2011). Punctuated actin contractions during convergent extension and their permissive regulation by the non-canonical Wnt-signaling pathway. Journal of Cell Science. 124: 635 - 646. (Article rated "Must Read" by Faculty of 1000 Biology). PMID: 21266466

M. von Dassow, J. A. Strother, and L. A. Davidson (2010). Surprisingly simple mechanical behavior of a complex embryonic tissue. PLoS ONE. 5: e15359. PMID: 21203396

J. Zhou*, H. Y. Kim*, J. H-C. Wang, and L. A. Davidson (2010). Macroscopic stiffening of embryonic tissues via microtubules, Rho-GEF, and assembly of contractile bundles of actomyosin. Development. 137: 2785 - 2794. (* contributed equally; article featured in Issue's "Highlights" section and rated "Exceptional" by John Wallingford for Faculty of 1000 Biology). PMID: 20630946

 Full List of Publications