The Darling Lab conducts research in cell mechanics, mesenchymal stem cell differentiation, and musculoskeletal tissue regeneration. Primary focus is on understanding the interaction between cell/tissue mechanical properties and their biological functions. Major research tracks include single-cell mechanical characterization via atomic force microscopy and live-cell, gene expression analysis via molecular beacons. Recent findings in the lab suggest that cells exhibit distinct mechanical biomarkers, which could help identify specific cell types within heterogeneous populations (i.e., metastatic cancer cells, stem cells). We are using our understanding of these novel biomarkers to identify and purify better source populations of cells for regenerative therapies.