Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | About RPI | Academics | Research | Student Life | Admissions | News & Events
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Department of Biological Sciences
Biology Faculty
* * * *
Department of Biological Sciences
1W14 Jonsson-Rowland Science Center
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 Eighth Street
Troy, NY 12180-3590

Phone: (518) 276-6446
Fax: (518) 276-2344

* * *
Biology Home Undergraduate Graduate Faculty Research News and Events Contacts

George Plopper

Professor: Department of Biological Sciences, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Education and Training

B.S. University of California, San Diego

Ph.D. Harvard University Medical School
Cell and Developmental Biology

George Plopper received his bachelors degree in Biology from the University of California, San Diego. He received his Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from Harvard University Medical School, working under the supervision of Dr. Don Ingber in the Department of Surgical Research at Children's Hospital in Boston. Dr. Plopper worked for four years at Desmos, Inc., in San Diego, in conjunction with Dr. Vito Quaranta's laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. He also served as Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for four years before arriving at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2001. Dr. Plopper's research interests include cell-extracellular matrix interactions, cell signaling, cancer cell biology, and tissue engineering. He is a member of the American Society for Cell Biology.


Tel: (518) 276-8288
Fax: (518) 276-2851

Office: CBIS 2115

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street
Troy NY 12180-3596

Research Interests

Dr. Plopper's research laboratory is primarily concerned with determining how cellular adhesion to extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules elicits specific cellular responses, including growth, differentiation, and migration. We work with human breast cells and rat astrocytes adhering to purified ECM proteins. Our general hypothesis is that adhesion to ECM molecules activates a subset of intracellular signaling pathways associated with integrin receptors, and that this signaling controls cell behaviors by modulating the organization of the cytoskeleton. Our research has both basic and applied elements, and is organized into two major projects:

  • Closing the gap between breast tissue structure and function: We are defining the effect of ECM contact on human breast cancer progression. Our hypothesis is that contact with distinct ECM proteins stimulates specific integrin-associated signaling pathways that ultimately control the architecture and metastatic potential of breast cells in vitro and in vivo. This work is a collaboration with Drs. Bulent Yener and Mohammed Zaki in the Department of Computer Science.
  • Modulation of astrocyte migration in response to spinal cord injury. In collaboration with Dr. Ryan Gilbert in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, we are studying the mechanisms that govern astrocyte migration on specific ECM proteins arrayed in defined alignments of engineered nanofibers.

Selected Publications

McKeen-Polizzotti, L., Oztan, B., Bjornsson, C., Shubert, K, Yener, B., and Plopper, G.E. Novel image analysis approach quantifies morphological characteristics of 3D breast culture acini with varying metastatic potentials. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, 2012; 2012: 102036.

Acar E, Plopper GE, Yener B. Coupled analysis of in vitro and histology tissue samples to quantify structure-function relationship. PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32227.

McAuley, E., Bradke, T., and Plopper, G.E. Phenylboronic acid is a more potent inhibitor than boric acid of key signaling networks involved in cancer cell migration. Cell Adhesion & Migration Sep-Oct;5(5):382-6, 2011.

Oztan, B., McKeen-Polizzotti, L., Bilgin, C., Plopper, G.E., and Yener, B. Classification of Breast Cancer Grades through Quantitative Characterization of Ductal Structure Morphology in Three-Dimensional Cultures, ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology and Biomedicine (ACM BCB), 2011.

Gilchrist C.L., Francisco A.T., Plopper G.E., Chen J., and Setton L.A. Nucleus pulposus cell interactions with laminins, European Cells and Materials Journal Jun 20;21:523-32, 2011.

McKeen-Polizzotti, L., Henderson, K.M., Bilgin, C.C., Otzan, B., Yener, B., and Plopper, G.E. Quantitative metric profiles capture three-dimensional temporospatial architecture to discriminate cellular functional states. BMC Medical Imaging , May 20;11:11, 2011.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Department of Biological Sciences