Research

The goal of the Cartilage Tissue Engineering Laboratory is to use and advance bioengineering in order to better prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases and injuries of cartilage. The global objective is to understand the relationships between biomechanical function, structure, composition, and metabolism of cartilage (both articular and septal) and joint tissues (i.e. meniscus and synovium) that interact with cartilage. We study cartilage by nature (in growth, aging, and osteoarthritis) and by design (in repair, tissue engineering, and joint engineering). In vitro and in vivo experiments are performed in the context of engineering models in order to analyze mechanisms and processes at the molecular, cellular, tissue, and organ levels. We seek to translate therapeutic designs into industrial and clinical applications in Orthopaedic Surgery (with Dr. Bugbee) and Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (with Dr. Watson).

Individuals with interest in doing research in the lab can inquire about research opportunities.


Biomechanics & Mechanobiology

Changes in the biomechanics of cartilage may occur normally during the growth and maturation of articular cartilage, or abnormally during the progressive deterioration of cartilage after injury and in osteoarthritis. We have developed a number of experimental approaches to elucidate how clinically-relevant factors affect cartilage lubrication and load-bearing under compression and shear. The experiments involve novel compression, shear, friction, and wear test systems that examine cartilage at micro-and macro-scales. The clinically-motivated conditions under study include altered lubrication, surface roughening, and focal defects.

Treatments

With the use of bioreactors that modulate chemical and mechanical microenvironments, we are advancing strategies to treat damaged articular cartilage. These bioengineering therapies consist of (a) cartilaginous and osteocartilaginous tissue for repairing focal articular cartilage defects and/or for craniofacial reconstructive surgery, (b) large contoured orthotropic osteocartilaginous blocks and whole joints for replacing major areas of damaged articular cartilage, and (c) synovial fluid to enhance lubrication in health and disease.