Click here to watch Seminar

We are pleased to present Professor Alan E Rowan Australian to speak on the topic Biomimetic Materials Controlling Cellular Activity

Where: AIBN Level 1 Seminar room

When: 9th Febuary 2023

Venue: AIBN Level 1 Seminar room or online via zoom


Fibrous networks of biopolymers are found in both the intracellular and extracellular matrix. From the microscopic scale of a single cell to the macroscopic scale of fibrous tissues, biopolymers with different stiffness control cellular processes such as cell differentiation, proliferation, transportation and communication. In recent years, a large number of different hydrogels has been developed, often with the goal to create an artificial extracellular matrix for biomedical applications. However, the mechanical environment inside and outside the cell is not determined by a single component. Multiple biopolymers with different structural and mechanical properties which physically interact with each other, make the mechanical environment of a cell in vivo much more complicated than the environment of a cell in a single-component artificial matrix.

The mechanics of natural biopolymer gels however, are very different from most synthetic hydrogels because they show strain stiffening behaviour. Reconstituted networks of cytoskeletal polymers such as actin or intermediate filaments or extracellular biopolymers such as collagen or fibrin show a large increase in stiffness upon an applied stress or deformation. The stiffening response prevents these networks from breaking under external stresses and enables communication between cells growing in these materials.

Our efforts to synthesis genuine biomimetic polymer hydrogels with materials properties almost identical to these of intermediate filaments and extracellular matrices and approaches to controlling natural fibre networks will be discussed. The role of nonlinear mechanical properties in controlling cellular behaviour will be highlighted.


Professor Alan Rowan became Director of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) at the University of Queensland in 2016. Professor Rowan has PhD and first-class honours in chemistry from the University of Liverpool and joined the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, where he became a professor, established a new group in molecular materials, and studied the relationship between molecular assembly and functional properties. His seminal contributions include functional materials, biomimetic processive catalysis, synthetic extracellular materials and single enzyme kinetics is demonstrated through more than 380 publications with over 20,000 citations (h index 72), including 14 high-impact publications in Nature, Science, Nature Materials, Nature Nanotechnology, and Nature Chemistry. He has been awarded 11 patents in the areas of nanomedicine and nanomaterials and has been involved in the startup of 5 companies. In 2013 he was shortlisted as one of the Netherlands leading science entrepreneurs.

Professor Rowan was awarded the RSC Soft Matter and Biophysics Prize in 2014, an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship in 2017 and became a Fellow of the Australian Academic in 2020.

About AIBN Seminar Series

The AIBN Seminar series showcases a range of seminars across different topics and disciplines


Watch the recorded Seminar here: