Matrix of Multicellular Life: How cell adhesion regulates cell function
Recently, my daughter Avani and I had an excellent opportunity to attend a talk on the topic of "Matrix of Multi-cellular Life: How cell adhesion regulates cell function”. That sure sounds like a mouthful! Our speaker, Dr Nagaraj Balsubramanian, delivered the topic with such simplicity that it helped children understand the topic easily. Using examples from day to day life made the talk very interesting. My most favorite was comparing the cellular matrix with a bowl of maggi.
"What is cell adhesion?" If my 9 year old was to ask me this question, I would say adhesion means ability to stick to something. This property of cells to stick together is responsible for many many important phenomenons in humans and animals and in fact all the living beings. The very formation of living being starts with a ball of cells which is formed due to cell adhesion. We are able to fight germs like bacteria and viruses because the cells stick together and eat up the germs by forming a ball around them. Different organs in our body are able to maintain their shape and structure as cellular matrix sticks together and holds everything inside. This cell adhesion and cell matrix is so important to us humans that when cells don't adhere or stick together, it can lead to various diseases like heart attack which is caused when there is atherosclerosis or in simple words the blood vessels get clogged and fail to carry blood to heart.
Towards the end of the talk, Dr Nagraj discussed some real life implications of "What if cells didn't adhere or stick together?" It was really interesting to witness children’s imagination at work on this topic. They came up with so many conditions that could occur if cellular matrix didn’t exist. Making that connection between theory and real-life experiences is crucial if we want to see today’s young students evolving into future scientists. It was a real pleasure listening to Dr Nagaraj! We look forward to many more such experiences.
Ashwini Ghate (a DLRC Parent)
Link to the PDF file of the public talk by Dr. Nagaraj (also a DLRC Parent)