PI Staff Students  

Yu-li Wang Biography

Yu-li Wang's broad academic experience at institutions of basic science, medicine, and engineering allowed him to collaborate with an unusually wide range of professionals for interdisciplinary research, focusing on cellular mechanical activities. His contributions have catalyzed far-reaching conceptual changes in basic cell biology, regenerative medicine, and engineering. He pioneered live cell imaging in the 1970's using fluorescently tagged proteins and discovered in 1985 the frontal extension mechanism for cell migration. His research in cell division helped convincing the field to focus on the equatorial region for control signals. In late 1990's he introduced tunable, elastic polyacrylamide substrates for detecting and manipulating cellular mechanical interactions, which catalyzed a major transformation of the field of mechanobiology. In addition to the introduction of traction force microscopy, his group discovered the sensitivity of cell growth to material stiffness and the preferential cellular migration toward stiff surfaces termed durotaxis. His recent studies have elucidated the sensitivity of cells to their own size, shape, and migration state. In addition, the discovery of "contact following of locomotion" has filled a major gap about how cell-cell interactions regulate collective behavior. His studies have been described in textbooks and his paper collected in the book “Landmark Papers in Cell Biology”. In addition, the books he edited have served as the defining technical resources for cell imaging and cell mechanics. He has also organized two international conferences and gave lectures internationally in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Austria, Germany, France, Sweden, Taiwan, Singapore, and Japan.

Curriculum Vitae

Title: R. Mehrabian Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Email: yuliwangandrew.cmu.edu
Telephone: 412 268 4442 Fax: 412 268 3025
Address: Scott Hall 4N209
  Department of Biomedical Engineering
  Carnegie Mellon University
  5000 Forbes Ave
  Pittsburgh, PA 15213
1973 B.S. in Physics National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
1980 Ph.D. in Biophysics Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

1982 – 1987 

Staff Scientist National Jewish Hospital, Denver, CO
1987 – 1997 Senior/Principal Scientist Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research,
1997 – 2008 Professor of Physiology University of Massachusetts Medical School,

2008 – 2017 

Head of Biomedical Engineering Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

2018 –  

Professor of Biomedical Engineering Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
1998 MERIT Award, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH
2001 Publication selected for the collection of "Landmark Papers in Cell Biology" by ASCB
2011 Distinguished Lecture, Institute for Medicine and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
2015 Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
2018 Academician, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
2020 Fellow, International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering
Books Edited:

Y.-L. Wang, and D.L. Taylor, Fluorescence Microscopy of Living Cells in Culture Part A & B Methods in Cell Biology, Volume 29 & 30, Academic Press.


Y.-L. Wang, and D.E. Discher, Cell Mechanics
Methods in Cell Biology, Volume 83, Academic Press.

Highly Cited Publications:

Discher, D., Janmey, P. and Wang, Y.-L. (2006) Tissue cells feel and respond to the stiffness of their substrates. Science 310:1139-1143. (>5,000 citations)

Pelham, R.J. Jr. and Wang, Y.-L (1997) Cell locomotion and focal adhesions are regulated by substrate flexibility. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94:13661-13665. (>3,000 citations)

Lo, C.-M., Wang, H.-B., Dembo, M. and Wang, Y.-L. (2000) Cell movement is guided by the rigidity of the substrates. Biophys. J. 79:144-152. (>3,000 citations)

Dembo, M. and Wang, Y.-L. (1999) Stresses at the cell-to-substrate interface during locomotion of fibroblasts. Biophys. J. 76:2307-2316. (>1,000 citations)

Beningo, K.A., Dembo, M., Kaverina, I., Small, J.V. and Wang, Y.-L. (2001) Nascent focal adhesions are responsible for the generation of strong propulsive forces in migrating fibroblasts. J. Cell Biol. 153:881-887. (>500 citations)

Wang, Y.-L. (1985) Exchange of actin subunits at the leading edge of living fibroblasts: possible roles in treadmilling. J. Cell Biol. 101:597-602. (>500 citations)

Wang, H.-B., Dembo, M. and Wang, Y.-L. (2000) Substrate flexibility regulates growth and apoptosis of normal but not transformed cells. Am. J. Physiol. 279:C1345-C1350. (>500 citations)

Munevar, S., Dembo, M. and Wang, Y.-L. (2001) Traction force microscopy of normal and H-ras transformed 3T3 fibroblasts. Biophys. J. 80:1744-1757. (>500 citations)

Wang, H.-B., Dembo, M., Hanks, S.K. and Wang, Y.-L. (2001) Focal adhesion kinase is involved in mechanosensing during fibroblast migration. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98:11295-11300. (>500 citations)