Medha Pathak, Ph.D., Associate Professor, UC Irvine, Molecular Choreography of Piezo1 in Development and Repair

Date and Time
Henley Hall 1010
Photo of Medha Pathak, Ph.D
Photo of Medha Pathak, Ph.D


Medha Pathak, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Physiology & Biophysics                                                  

UC Irvine

Faculty Host: Dorit Hanein


Title: Molecular Choreography of Piezo1 in Development and Repair



Understanding how cells produce, sense, and convert mechanical stimuli into chemical and genetic responses remains a crucial, yet unresolved, aspect of biological research. Our investigation focuses on elucidating these mechanical phenomena within cells and tissues, employing cutting-edge molecular strategies, imaging techniques, and bioengineering methodologies. Our findings suggest that Piezo1, a mechanically-activated ion channel, is pivotal in interpreting the mechanical forces generated by cells to control various biological pathways. We have observed localized calcium signals, or "Ca^2+ flickers," induced by Piezo1 in response to cell-generated forces, independent of external mechanical stimuli. We posit that the interplay between Piezo1's activity and its positional dynamics within cells is critical in shaping its functional outcomes. Finally, we have developed innovative molecular tools to monitor the in situ behavior of Piezo1, which may offer new insights into its role in cellular processes.



Medha M. Pathak, PhD, is an Associate Professor at UC Irvine's Department of Physiology & Biophysics and a faculty member at the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center. She began her academic journey in India, obtaining a B.S. in Biochemistry and an M.Sc., before pursuing her PhD at UC Berkeley where she studied voltage gating of ion channels. As a postdoctoral fellow, she explored hair cell mechanotransduction and the Piezo1 channel's role in neural stem cell fate. She is a recipient of the Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral fellowship, the NIH Director’s New Innovator award, and the HHMI Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study (as mentor). Dr. Pathak is an active member of the Biophysical Society and is deeply committed to enhancing diversity and mentorship in STEM fields.