Regenerative Medicine and Biomechanics


Intervention of post-traumatic osteoarthritis by nano-graphene oxide-based delivery of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist 

Dr. Quanjun Cui, Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery (UVA School of Medicine), Xiaodong Li, Professor, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (UVA Engineering), Donald Griffin, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering (UVA Engineering), Dongfeng Pan, Associate Professor, Radiology & Medical Imaging (UVA School of Medicine), Xinlin Yang, Assistant Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery (UVA School of Medicine) 

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating disease characterized by degenerative changes in cartilage, bone and other surrounding tissues that affect nearly 27 million Americans. Currently, there are no effective treatments for OA and researchers at the UVA Schools of Medicine and Engineering are working to develop an innovative therapy that would both decrease inflammation and cartilage destruction in the injured joint. They plan to use novel nanomaterials to deliver drugs that can block inflammation locally in the affected joint, and track the impact of their treatment using innovative molecular imaging techniques developed at UVA.  


Bone Mechanics for Healing

Towards Optimizing Mechanical Conditions for Distal Femur Fracture Healing

Jason Kerrigan, Director, Center for Applied Biomechanics and Associate Professor, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, David Weiss, Associate Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery, Seth Yarboro, Associate Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery, Sang-Hyun Lee, Research Scientist, Center for Applied Biomechanics 

Despite recent advances in orthopaedic devices, like locking plates and screws that can improve outcomes in fracture repair surgeries, certain repairs still see high rates of complications and unsatisfactory outcomes. This research team will address an important problem: the failure of fracture repair due to insufficient bone growth. By bringing together mechanical engineers from the Center for Applied Biomechanics (CAB) with expertise in computational modeling of the bone with trauma surgeons who regularly repair distal femur fractures, UVA will impact surgical planning for optimizing bone regeneration and fracture healing.


Healing After a Heart Attack

In situ Bioengineering of Scar Formation after Myocardial Infarction

Brent French, Professor Biomedical Engineering (UVA School of Medicine),  Jeff Saucerman, Associate Professor Biomedical Engineering (UVA School of Medicine), Matthew Wolf, Associate Professor Medicine – Cardiovascular Medicine (UVA School of Medicine)

Myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack, occurs in approximately 800,000 people in the United States every year. One of the most successful therapies following a heart attack is called reperfusion therapy, which brings blood flow back to the region of the heart that has been injured by MI. Besides restoring blood flow to the oxygen-starved heart muscle, reperfusion also improves clinical outcomes by expediting the replacement of dead heart muscle with scar tissue after MI.

In this project, bioengineers from UVA’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and a cardiologist from UVA’s Department of Medicine will take a highly innovative approach that harnesses two technologies developed at UVA to design and test new therapies to further improve the wound healing response in the heart after MI. The team will use computational models of the complex biology of cardiac fibroblasts to identify specific proteins inside those cells that might be modulated to improve the healing response, and then test their predictions by using viral gene delivery to regulate the levels of these proteins in animal models.

Pediatric Craniofacial Surgery

Defining the Mechanical and Biologic Properties of Pediatric Cranial Bone

Jonathan Black, Assistant Professor, Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery (UVA School of Medicine),  Matt Panzer, Associate Professor, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (UVA Engineering), Patrick Cottler, Assistant Professor, Plastic & Maxillofacial Surgery (UVA School of Medicine)

Traumatic injury and congenital birth defects in infancy and childhood affecting the skull and facial bones usually require surgical correction. While it is known that the properties of the pediatric skull are substantially different from adult tissue, the composition, rigidity and structure are poorly studied and treatment devices are simply smaller versions of adult hardware. Additionally, most congenital corrections require expansion of the skull in order to allow growth, and there are few good tools to guide these procedures. This team from Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery at the UVA School of Medicine and the Center for Applied Biomechanics will apply techniques and knowledge from the study of head and brain injury during automobile crashes and sports impacts to develop models based on pediatric cranial bone for surgical planning and simulation. This will lead to improved treatment and outcomes in pediatric craniofacial surgery.

Muscle Atrophy

Engineering Approach to Rotator Cuff Atrophy

Brian Werner, Assistant Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery (UVA School of Medicine), George Christ, Professor, Biomedical Engineering (SEAS/SOM), Thomas Barker, Professor, Biomedical Engineering (SEAS/SOM)

Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries in the shoulder, making the surgical repair of rotator cuff injuries a common procedure. While there is substantial research devoted to improving healing rates and clinical outcomes after surgery, muscle atrophy after surgery remains a common problem, and these changes in the muscle are generally irreversible. This multidisciplinary research team from Orthopaedic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering joins experts in shoulder injury and repair, wound healing, and muscle and tissue regeneration in order to optimize a tissue-engineering approach to address and treat chronic rotator cuff muscle atrophy.

Wrist Arthritis 

Merging Core Shell Metal Organic Frameworks and Regenerative Microporous Annealed Particle Scaffolding: An Engineered Approach to Wrist Arthritis

Donald Griffin, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering (UVA Engineering), Guarav Giri, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering (UVA Engineering), Brent DeGeorge, Assistant Professor, Surgery – Plastic & Maxillofacial (UVA School of Medicine), Patrick Cottler, Assistant Professor, Surgery – Plastic & Maxillofacial (UVA School of Medicine)

Wrist arthritis affects at least 2 million adults per year in the U.S. alone. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is characterized by irreparable loss of cartilage, which increases friction between joint surfaces and leads to pain and potential loss of function. Because doctors cannot restore damaged cartilage, the only option for patients in severe pain is total joint replacement.

The research team comprised of experts from the Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Plastic & Maxillofacial Surgery aims to change the landscape for arthritis patients using an approach called regenerative medicine. They are designing new injectable materials that not only encourage the body’s cells to repopulate a treated region but also deliver the growth factors those cells need to thrive and produce new cartilage.

Robotic Simulations for Feet and Ankles

Development, Implementation, and Demonstration of a Robotic Gait Simulator

Jason Kerrigan,  Director of the Center of Applied Biomechanics and Assistant Professor Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (UVA Engineering) Dr, Joseph Park, Orthopedics (UVA School of Medicine), Dr. Truitt Cooper, Orthopedics (UVA School of Medicine), Dr. Venkat Perumal, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery (UVA School of Medicine), Richard Kent, Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Emergency Medicine, researcher at the Center for Applied Biomechanics and (UVA Engineering), Silvia Blemker, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering (UVA Engineering)

As the population ages, the incidence of arthritis and other musculoskeletal disorders is increasing, generating a need for new and better treatments to relieve pain and restore mobility. While joint replacements now successfully address many cases of arthritis in hips and knees, it has proven more challenging to develop successful replacements and other treatments for the ankles and feet.

In this project, mechanical engineers at the Center for Applied Biomechanics (CAB) and surgeons from UVA’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery will collaborate to develop, implement, and demonstrate the use of a new research capability at UVA: a robotic gait simulator. A robotic gait simulator is a combination of software and hardware that allows researchers to simulate realistic physiological foot and ankle biomechanics while measuring forces, pressures, motions, and deformations of different structures that cannot be accurately measured in patients.

The CAB robotic system will provide a platform to study the complex structure/function relationships in the foot and ankle, allowing researchers to simulate surgical interventions and repairs, better understand mechanisms of injury and pathology of disease, and evaluate novel designs for engineered replacements. This collaborative project will place UVA at the forefront of experimental biomechanics as one of only a handful of institutions that can perform these realistic robotic tests.