Graduate Program

What is Mechanobiology?

Mechanobiology is a quantitative and interdisciplinary approach to understanding biological functions. Physical, geometrical and mechanical events are not just side effects of biochemistry, but are themselves important triggers and regulators of processes such as cancer metastasis and stem cell differentiation.

Mouse embryonic fibroblasts stained for actin (green) and beta-catenin (red) highlighting cell-cell junctions. Image captured by Megha Vaman Rao of the Zaidel-Bar lab.

At MBI we dissect complex behaviors into smaller processes or functional modules. We describe each step within a process using both quantifiable chemical reactions and physical descriptors. From these parameters we build computational models to extract proper representations of how each process works. In this manner we are able to organize modular processes into a mechanistic understanding of their emerging properties and complex phenotypes.

We also apply our fundamental knowledge to solving impactful problems in cancer and regenerative medicine. To help those unfamiliar with mechanobiology to gain a better understanding of the field and relevant cellular processes, we have launched the online, educational resource MBInfo.

Read more about current research at the MBI.

A PhD training program in the emerging discipline of mechanobiology has been launched to bring together internationally renowned scholars to the Mechanobiology Institute in Singapore. Many principal investigators hold senior professorships in internationally prestigious institutes such as MIT, Columbia, Weizmann Institute of Science, UC Berkeley, Universities of Paris & CNRS, Illinois, Toronto, Stony Brook, NUS and NTU.

Growing E.coli, as captured by Jeesun Lim of the Kenney lab.

The combined accomplishments of all the scholars include more than one hundred publications in Science, Nature, and Cell, and numerous publications in other top journals.  Many of their previous students and postdoctoral associates have become professors and corporate executives in top institutions worldwide. Supported by over USD$110 Million in funding from the Singapore government, these illustrious scholars join hands to recruit and train the best minds in Asia. Together, we venture ahead to define a new discipline of mechanobiology.

Curriculum

With an interdisciplinary and highly-integrated team approach to discovery and invention, MBI constitutes a new paradigm in biomedical research and graduate education. Our curriculum is crafted to train innovative and influential leaders for not only in academia but also in R&D-based industry.

The actin network (red) of a human breast cancer adeno- carcinoma cell, from the Lim Chwee Teck lab.

The mechanobiology curriculum includes four (4) core courses to introduce the principles of mechanobiology: MB5101- Cell as a Machine (in-depth analysis of biological functions), MB5102- Topics in Mechanobiology (training in critical thinking and presentations), MB5103- Research Seminars in Mechanobiology (taught how to deliver scientific seminars and critically evaluate seminars by others) and MB5104- Integrative Approach to understand Cell Functions (fundamental concepts and practical approaches in understanding cellular functions). The mechanobiology curriculum also includes one (1) elective course to introduce the principles of mechanobiology: MB5105- Microfabrication for Biologists (basic principles of soft lithography techniques that are classically used by biologists). Students then choose three to four (3-4) elective courses from many courses offered in different schools. To help students venture into new disciplines of inquiry, one to two (1-2) undergraduate courses outside the students’ undergraduate training can be taken with a pass or fail grade. Students are required to obtain at least 24 MCs. To help students in developing decision-making and leadership skills, teaching experiences, laboratory rotations and proposal writing are built into the curriculum.

We welcome outstanding candidates who have solid foundations in science (either biomedical or physical) or engineering; with good quantitative, communication and critical thinking skills, adventurous, resourceful, and self-driven, to apply and take part in this research and education journey with us.

Admissions

MBI admits new students in August. The deadline for application is the end of January and interviews will be conducted from October to March.

A mouse embryonic fibroblast of the NIH3T3 cell line from the Yasuhiro Sawada lab.

 

Scholarships

All students admitted to the MBI PhD program will be offered a full scholarship for up to five (5) years. The scholarship covers full tuition fees, with a monthly stipend of S$3200 per month for non-Singaporeans and S$3400 per month for Singaporeans (Central Provident Fund (CPF) will be provided at the prevailing employer’s CPF contribution rate) and a one-time allowance of S$5000 to cover purchase of laptops, books and other scholastic materials. The MBI may provide a competitive allowance for international conference travel on merit of conference papers.

Internships

A limited number of internships are available. Find out more at mbi.nus.edu.sg/education/internship-program.