Lance C. Kam


351 Engineering Terrace
Mail Code 8904

Tel(212) 854-8611
Fax(212) 854-8725

Lance Kam and the Kam lab use surface and biomaterial engineering principles to reveal how living cells interpret the complex details of their surroundings. These cues, which include the microscale distribution of signaling proteins and local mechanical properties of the environment, allow cells to organize into functional tissues that carry out sophisticated behaviors. Current projects include the use of these principles to control the activation and function of immune cells, leading to next-generation systems that can harness adaptive immunity to treat disease.

Research Interests

Molecular and Cellular Engineering, Immune Engineering, Microfabrication, and Surface Design.

Research Areas

A major theme of the Kam group is the emerging field of immune cell mechanobiology. A surprising discovery by the group was that T lymphocytes (key modulators of the adaptive immune response) can sense the mechanical stiffness of a material presenting activating ligands, altering a range of responses including cytokine secretion and proliferation. Current projects seek to understand how these cells carry out this mechanosensing and develop new uses of this behavior in cellular engineering. As an important application of this result, mechanosensing is being used to improve production of T cells for therapeutic purposes. Complementary projects focus on how the microscale organization of cellular signaling similarly drive cell response and can be used to improve cell production.

Dr. Kam earned BS degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Physics from Washington University in St. Louis, a MS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Following postdoctoral research in Chemistry at Stanford University, he joined Columbia University in 2003.


  • Postdoctoral fellow, Stanford University, 2000-2003


  • Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, 2012-
  • Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, 2003 - 2012


  • Biomedical Engineering Society
  • Society for Biomaterials
  • American Society for Cell Biology


  • BMES-SPRBM, Rising Star (2011).


  • Lambert, L.H., Goebrecht, G.K.E., De Leo, S.E., O’Connor, R.S., Nunez-Cruz, S., Li, T.-D., Yuan, J., Milone, M.C., and Kam, L.C., “Improving T Cell Expansion with a Soft Touch”, Nono Letters, 17: 821-6 (2017).
  • Basu, R., Whitlick, B.M., Husson, J., Le Floc’h, A.L., Jin, W., Oyler-Yanic, A., Dotiwala, F., Giannone, G., Hivroz, C., Biais, N., Lieberman, J., Kam, L.C., and Huse., M., “Cytotoxic T cells use mechanical force to potentiate target cell killing”, Cell, 165:100-10 (2016).
  • Lee, J.H., Dustin, M.L., and Kam, L.C., “A microfluidic platform reveals differential response of regulatory T cells to micropatterned costimulation arrays”, Integrative Biology, 7:1442-53 (2015).
  • Bashour, K.T., Tsai, J., Shen, K., Lee, J.H., Sun, E., Milone, M.C., Dustin, M.L., and Kam L.C., “Crosstalk between CD3 and CD28 is spatially modulated by protein lateral mobility.”, Molecular and Cellular Biology, 34:955-64 (2013).
  • Bashour, K.T., Gondarenko, A., Chen, H., Shen, K., Liu, X., Huse, M., Hone, J.C., and Kam, L.C., “CD28 and CD3 have complementary roles in T-cell traction forces”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 111: 2241-6 (2014).
  • O’Connor R.S., Hao, X., Shen, K., Bashour, K., Akimova, T., Hancock, W.W., Kam, L.C., Milone, M.C., “Substrate rigidity regulates human T cell activation and proliferation.”, Journal of Immunology, 189:1330-9 (2012).
  • Judokusumo, E., Tabdanov, E., Kumari, S., Dustin, M.L., and Kam, L.C., “Mechanosensing in T Lymphocyte Activation”, Biophysical Journal – Letters 102:L5-7 (2012).
  • Tsai, J., and Kam, L.C., “Rigidity-dependent Crosstalk Between Integrin and Cadherin Signaling.” Biophysical Journal-Biophysical Letters, 96: L39-41 (2009).
  • Shen, K., Thomas, V.K., Dustin, M.L., and Kam, L.C., “Micropatterning of Costimulatory Ligands Enhances CD4+ T Cell Function.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 105:7791-6 (2008).
  • Shi, P., Shen, K., and Kam, L.C., “Local Presentation of L1 and N-cadherin in Multicomponent, Microscale Patterns Differentially Direct Neuron Function in Vitro.” Developmental Neurobiology, 67:1765-76  (2007).