MBI’s Management Team

MBI provides an open platform to bring outstanding scientists and their projects to Singapore while providing high-quality training for students and scientists in quantitative systems approaches to understanding biomechanical functions.

The Mechanobiology Institute’s mission is to understand the mechanical aspects of cells and tissues that create organism form and function, define a fundamental set of mechanobiological operations from which these complex biological functions are built, establish this as a world-wide standard to unify the description and understanding of normal and diseased functions, and develop a robust multidisciplinary approach to mechanobiology.

Together, we are working on new ways of studying diseases through the mechanisms of molecule, cell and tissue mechanics to further the advancement of the discipline and the future of mechanobiology.

Rong Li, Director

Director and Principal Investigator, Mechanobiology Institute
Distinguished Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, NUS

Prof Li joined the MBI from Johns Hopkins University, where she was a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at the School of Medicine and the Whiting School of Engineering since 2015. Prof Li is also the director of the Center for Cell Dynamics at the School of Medicine’s Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences.

Prof Li is a globally respected leader in the study of cellular dynamics and mechanics. Her interdisciplinary research integrates genetics, quantitative imaging, biophysical measurements, mathematical modelling, genomics and proteomics — to understand how eukaryotic cells transmit their genomes, adapt to the environment, and establish distinct organisation to perform specialised functions. She has made seminal discoveries in the regulation of cell division, cell polarity, the actin cytoskeleton, aneuploidy and proteostasis. The insights gained from her research have contributed to the fundamental understanding of cancer and age-related diseases. Read more about Prof Li’s research

Yusuke Toyama, Deputy Director

Deputy Director, Mechanobiology Institute
Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, NUS

Assoc Prof Toyama joined MBI and the Department of Biological Sciences, NUS, in 2010. He trained in physics and laser engineering in Osaka University, Japan before applying his knowledge to study biophysics and mechanobiology at Duke University, USA. At MBI, Assoc Prof Toyama investigates cell and tissue dynamics, with a focus on apoptotic force and collective cell migration. Read more about Prof Toyama’s research

As Deputy Director of MBI, he is responsible for Corporate Services and Academic Programs.

Pakorn Tony Kanchanawong, Deputy Director

Deputy Director, Mechanobiology Institute
Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, NUS

Assoc Prof Pakorn ‘Tony’ Kanchanawong joined MBI and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, NUS, in 2011. After his training in biophysics from Stanford University, USA, he collaborated on the development and application of iPALM 3-D superresolution microscopy at NIH, USA. At MBI, Assoc Prof Kanchanawong focuses on visualizing and understanding the nanoscale architecture of cellular structures involved in cell migration, cell adhesions, and mechanotransduction. Read more about Prof Kanchanawong’s research

As Deputy Director of MBI, he is responsible for Infrastructure, Facilities, and Safety.

Hew Choy Leong, Senior Advisor and Emeritus Professor

Senior Advisor & Emeritus Professor
Emeritus Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, NUS

After spending more than 30 years as a professor at the Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Toronto in Canada, Prof Hew took up the position as the Head of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore in 1999. He has successfully reorganised the department into a research – intensive department with strong research niches in biophysical science, cell and molecular biology and environmental science/biodiversity. He also chaired a working group in putting up the Mechanobiology proposal which was subsequently awarded by the National Research Council as the fourth Research Centre of Excellence (now called MBI) in Singapore. Read more about Prof Hew’s research