Vikrant Yadav, Yale

An equation of state is something you hear about in introductory thermodynamics, for example, the Ideal gas equation. The ideal gas equation relates the pressure, volume, and the number of particles of the gas, to its temperature, uniquely defining its state. Such a description is possible in physics when the interactions between constituent particles are weak or non-existent. In biology, a tissue is modeled as a fluid composed of cells. These cells are constantly interacting with each other through mechanical and chemical signaling. Can an equation of state exist for such a messy interacting system? In this talk, I show that the presence of strong cell-cell interaction in tissues gives rise to a novel non-equilibrium, size-dependent surface tension, something unheard of for classical fluids. This surface tension, in turn, modifies the packing of cells inside the tissue generating a size-dependent density and pressure. Finally, we show that a combination of these non-equilibrium pressure and densities can yield an equation of state for biological tissues. In the end, I discuss how this new paradigm of size-dependent biological properties challenges our current understanding of tumor spreading.