The application of mechanics to biological systems presents unique and potentially instructive challenges for physicists and biologists. A number of these challenges have been acknowledged and pursued at a variety of length scales ranging from nanometers (e.g. single protein mechanics) to millimeters (e.g. tissues). At all of these length scales, the mechanics of biological systems involve fundamentally new physics that combines complex viscoelastic materials and active elements, such as motor proteins or mobile cells. Additionally, the mechanics at the various length scales can directly impact each other. Despite the interactions between length scales, and the potentially similar physics, groups working on problems at these various length scales do not necessarily interact. We have organized this workshop to bring together workers investigating mechanics at the scale of: (i) single biological macromolecules (nm), (ii) individual cells and the cytoskeleton (micron), and (iii) collections of cells and tissues (mm). By providing a space for interaction, we hope that theoretical ideas and experimental techniques developed in one area may be disseminated to the others. Perhaps a more coherent understanding of biological mechanics may emerge that benefits from recognizing key similarities between structures and mechanisms operating at vastly different length scales.

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Conference Organizers: Michael Dennin & Alex J. Levine