Katie Bentley – The Cellular Adaptive Behavior Lab (CAB LAB)

The CAB Lab is interdisciplinary, integrating in silico, in vitro and in vivo approaches to develop a dynamic, single to collective cell understanding of how blood vessels are able to grow well-adapted networks in healthy tissue yet form maladapted networks in diseases such as retinopathy and cancer.

We primarily exploit the predictive power of computer simulations to uncover new mechanisms in angiogenesis. Our simulations draw on concepts and approaches from the Adaptive Systems/Evolutionary Robotics fields, with a focus on hybrid agent-based models alongside other spatiotemporal modelling approaches. These help us to untangle the complex cell signalling, shape and movement dynamics as cells coordinate and compete during vascular morphogenesis.

The lab performs experiments in collaboration with the many excellent vascular biology groups at IGP (e.g. the Claesson-Welsh, Betsholtz, Mäkinen and Dejana labs) and internationally to test our model predictions using in vitro cell culture experiments such as live imaging of blood vessel sprouting assays and analysis of vascular patterning in different in vivo mouse models.

We are developing a new cutting edge light-sheet microscopy imaging method alongside novel image analysis methods to reveal cell dynamic changes and three-dimensional morphometrics of the vasculature in development vs. disease conditions in the mouse eye.

Mechanisms driving cell rearrangements during blood vessel growth

Our integrated modelling approach previously revealed that Notch negative feedback interplays with positive feedback pathways to generate different collective endothelial cell movement during blood vessel growth under normal and disease conditions. We recently validated model predictions in vivo uncovering the first elements of a differential adhesion based mechanisms during blood vessel growth. We are investigating whether abnormal cell dynamics and oscillatory behaviour may cause vascular malformations and how these may be targeted by new therapeutics.

Interdisciplinary collaborations

To drive major transitions in our understanding the laboratory draws inspiration, and is actively involved in, a diverse range of disciplines that synergistically investigate individual to collective adaptive behavior, including evolutionary and collective robotics, diatom/plant morphogenesis, bioengineering, art-science collaborations and philosophy.

More information about our projects