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Abstract image of cells

Lung tumors are unique solid tumors in that they develop under constant cyclic stretch, from respiration. In order to understand the contribution of stress and strain to lung cancer, we collaborated with Dr. Jeffrey Weiss, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Utah, to develop a finite element model of lung tissue. Simulations showed that early tumors amplify the strain in the adjacent alveolar walls. Iteratively thickening the alveolar walls in response to amplified strain produced tracks of thickened walls, which can be found in early-stage clinical samples. The simulations and tumor measurements suggest that cells at the edge of a lung tumor and in surrounding alveoli experience increased strain during respiration that could promote tumor progression.

  • Zitnay, et al. Plos Computational Biol. (2022)

Current projects: strain and LUAD progression

In collaboration with Dr. Jeff Weiss, we are continuing to develop the FEBio model of lung tumors to test how strain contributes to tumor growth and progression. We are experimentally stretching and studying how cancer-associated fibroblasts and tumor cells respond to strain to understand how strain amplification contributes to remodeling of the tumor microenvironment. This project is funded by R01CA255790 and the Concern Foundation.

Michelle C. Mendoza, PhD

Principal Investigator


The Mendoza lab has a funded collaborations with the Weiss lab in the Biomedical Engineering department. The collaboration applies computational modeling to understand the mechanics of tumor growth within the lung.