Brenton D. Hoffman

Image of Brenton D. Hoffman

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering

The overall goal of my research program is to utilize an interdisciplinary approach to first advance the basic understanding of mechanotransduction on multiple scales and then use this knowledge to guide the development of new treatments for mechanosensitive diseases. Our work combines principles and techniques from protein engineering, molecular biology, soft matter physics, cell and developmental biology, biomaterials engineering, automated image analysis, and state of the art live cell microscopy. Specifically, we engineer and use biosensors that report the tension across specific proteins in living cells through changes in the color of light they emit. This technology enables dynamic measurements of proteins and sub-cellular structures that are under load. Unlike more traditional techniques that measure the entirety of cellular force output, the ability of these sensors to measure mechanical stress at the molecular level means they are innately compatible with concepts and approaches common in molecular biology and biophysics.

Appointments and Affiliations
  • Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Assistant Professor in Cell Biology
Contact Information:
Education:

  • Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, 2007

Research Interests:

Dr. Hoffman’s research focuses on understanding, on a molecular level, how mechanical and chemical cues from the environment are detected, integrated, and manipulated by cells to dictate physiological and patho-physiological responses important in vascular biology.

Specialties:

Biological Materials
Polymer and Protein Engineering
Cardiovascular
Tissue Repair, Tissue Engineering

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions:

  • Post-doctoral Fellow, American Heart Association, 2009-2011
  • Cardiovascular Research Training Grant (T32), National Institutes of Health, 2007-2009
  • Ashton Fellowship in Engineering, 2002-2007

Courses Taught:
  • BME 302L: Fundamentals of Biomaterials and Biomechanics (AC or GE)
  • BME 394: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 493: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 494: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 527: Cell Mechanics and Mechanotransduction
  • BME 527: Cell Mechanics and Mechanotransduction (GE, BB, MC)
  • BME 899: Special Readings in Biomedical Engineering
  • EGR 391: Projects in Engineering

Representative Publications: (More Publications)
    • Hoffman, BD; Grashoff, C; Schwartz, MA, Dynamic molecular processes mediate cellular mechanotransduction, Nature, vol 475 no. 7356 (2011), pp. 316-323 [10.1038/nature10316] [abs].
    • Grashoff, C; Hoffman, BD; Brenner, MD; Zhou, R; Parsons, M; Yang, MT; McLean, MA; Sligar, SG; Chen, CS; Ha, T; Schwartz, MA, Measuring mechanical tension across vinculin reveals regulation of focal adhesion dynamics, Nature, vol 466 no. 7303 (2010), pp. 263-266 [10.1038/nature09198] [abs].
    • Hoffman, BD; Massiera, G; Citters, KMV; Crocker, JC, The consensus mechanics of cultured mammalian cells, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, vol 103 no. 27 (2006), pp. 10259-10264 [10.1073/pnas.0510348103] [abs].