Nanomechanics of Native and Engineered Musculoskeletal Tissues: Towards a Fundamental, Quantitative Mechanistic Understanding of Tissue Function, Quality, and Pathology

When: Friday, November 09, 2012 at 1:00 pm
Where: CSC 333
Speaker: Dr. Christine Ortiz
Organization: Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sponsor: IGERT Nanomedicine Seminar

Biological materials, such as musculoskeletal tissues, have developed amazingly complex, hierarchical, heterogeneous nanostructures over millions of years of evolution in order to function properly under the mechanical loads they experience in their environment. In this talk, I will describe studies of musculoskeletal materials using nanomechanics; i.e. the measurement and prediction of extremely small forces and structures within and between nanoscale constituents in order to provide a fundamental molecular-level understanding of the mechanical function, quality, and pathology. Examples of materials under investigation to be discussed include cartilage and bone. A quad-tiered approach is taken at increasing levels of material complexity in order to achieve this goal which includes; nanoscale mechanical properties of intact tissue, single cells and their associated matrix, biomimetic molecular assemblies, and individual extracellular matrix biomolecules (such as aggrecan, collagen, and hyaluronan). Nanotechnological methods applied to the field of musculoskeletal tissues and regenerative medicine hold great promise for significant and rapid advancements towards tissue repair and/or replacement and improved treatments for people afflicted with diseases such as osteoarthritis.