Computer modeling produces new knowledge on epithelial barrier properties and biomechanics

Aapo Tervonen from Computational Biophysics and Imaging Group (CBIG) is finishing his PhD work. He will defend his PhD thesis titled Computational Modeling of Epithelial Barrier Properties and Biomechanics on Friday, January 14th.

Image: Aapo Tervonen, Sanna Korpela, Soile Nymark, Jari Hyttinen, Teemu Ihalainen

Now that your PhD work is finished, can you summarise your work for us?
Epithelial tissues form barriers that separate our organs and bodies from their environment. These tissues are subjected to many diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease. In this thesis, I studied the epithelial barrier properties and mechanics using computer modeling. The generated models improved our understanding of epithelial barrier and mechanics as well as provide tools for future research.

What were the most memorable moments during your PhD?
I did a research visit for two months at Tohoku University in Japan during my first year. I had many memorable moments during this visit, including the food and getting lost a few times.

What was the biggest lesson during your PhD?
Solve issues properly the first time. Otherwise, you will face them again later.

Did the computational work guide any experimental work in the lab? How well did it correlate?
My computational model of the structural dynamics in tight junctions has been used to analyze the experimental results by another group. They showed a good correlation between the experiments and the simulations. The computational model of the epithelial mechanics will hopefully be used to guide experimental studies in the future.

What are your plans career-wise?
I am currently applying for funding to continue studying the extremely interesting epithelial mechanobiology, hopefully somewhere in Europe. But let us see what the future brings.

The PhD defense is on Friday 14th Jan at 12 pm online. Follow the event via this link.