B.S. ​Northwestern University, 1997M.S. ​Northwestern University, 1999Ph.D. Stanford University, 2004​Post-Doc Stanford Simbios Center Biomedical Computation​, 2004-2005

"Our work has the ultimate goal of improving treatments and quality of life for individuals suffering from muscle-related clinical problems."

Silvia Salinas Blemker, Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Silvia Blemker uses experimental and computational models to characterize the relationships between muscle structure, biomechanical properties, biology, and function in order to develop new treatments for musculoskeletal disease. She did her undergraduate and Master’s work in Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University, and her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. She is broadly interested in muscle mechanics & physiology, multi-scale modeling, mentoring students, and teaching.

The Multiscale Muscle Mechanophysiology (“M3”) lab is collectively fascinated by skeletal muscles, which are the motors for all the wide range of voluntary movements in the human body. Each muscle’s properties are beautifully tuned for a specific function in the body, which can be easily disrupted by diseases such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or in aging populations. We seek to gain new insights into the form, function, biology, and diseases of muscles. Our work has the ultimate goal of improving treatments and quality of life for individuals suffering from muscle-related clinical problems. We integrate a variety of computational and experimental approaches to achieve this goal. Dr. Blemker is from Lawrence, Kansas.


  • American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering College of Fellows 2020
  • Commonwealth Endowed Associate Professorship in Engineering 2013
  • The Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Award 2012
  • Journal of Biomechanics Award (w/ B. Sharafi), American Society of Biomechanics 2010
  • UVA University Teaching Fellowship 2009

Research Interests

  • Medical and Molecular Imaging
  • Biomechanics/Injury Biomechanics or Biomechanics and Mechanobiology
  • Computational Systems Biology

In the News

Selected Publications

  • In silico and in vivo experiments reveal M-CSF injections accelerate regeneration following muscle laceration, Annals of biomedical engineering 45 (3), 747-760 ABS KS Martin, CD Kegelman, KM Virgilio, JA Passipieri, GJ Christ
  • Heterogeneity of muscle sizes in the lower limbs of children with cerebral palsy, Mhuscle & nerve 53 (6), 933-945 ABS GG Handsfield, CH Meyer, MF Abel, SS Blemker
  • Computational modeling of muscle regeneration and adaptation to advance muscle tissue regeneration strategies, Cells Tissues Organs 202 (3-4), 250-266 ABS KS Martin, KM Virgilio, SM Peirce, SS Blemker
  • A computational model quantifies the effect of anatomical variability on velopharyngeal function, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 58 (4), 1119-1133 ABS JM Inouye, JL Perry, KY Lin, SS Blemker
  • Musculoskeletal simulation can help explain selective muscle degeneration in Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Muscle & nerve 52 (2), 174-182 ABS X Hu, SS Blemker
  • Agent-based computational model investigates muscle-specific responses to disuse-induced atrophy, Journal of Applied Physiology 118 (10), 1299-1309 KS Martin, SS Blemker, SM Peirce
  • A computational model of velopharyngeal closure for simulating cleft palate repair, Journal of Craniofacial Surgery 26 (3), 658-662 ABS JM Inouye, CM Pelland, KY Lin, KC Borowitz, SS Blemker
  • Multiscale models of skeletal muscle reveal the complex effects of muscular dystrophy on tissue mechanics and damage susceptibility, Interface focus 5 (2), 20140080 ABS KM Virgilio, KS Martin, SM Peirce, SS Blemker
  • Relationships of 35 lower limb muscles to height and body mass quantified using MRI, Journal of biomechanics 47 (3), 631-638 ABS GG Handsfield, CH Meyer, JM Hart, MF Abel, SS Blemker
  • The effects of aponeurosis geometry on strain injury susceptibility explored with a 3D muscle model, Journal of biomechanics 43 (13), 2574-2581 ABS MR Rehorn, SS Blemker
  • A 3D model of muscle reveals the causes of nonuniform strains in the biceps brachii, Journal of biomechanics 38 (4), 657-665 ABS SS Blemker, PM Pinsky, SL Delp
  • Three-dimensional representation of complex muscle architectures and geometries, Annals of biomedical engineering 33 (5), 661-673 ABS SS Blemker, SL Delp

Courses Taught

  • BME 2220 Biomechanics
  • BME/MAE 4280, 6280 Motion Biomechanics
  • BME 6310 Computation and Modeling in BME
  • ENGR 1620 Intro to Engineering
  • MAE 6710 Finite Element Analysis
  • MAE 6592 Computational Biomechanics
  • MAE 2320 Dynamics
  • BME 8315 Computational Systems Modeling

Featured Grants & Projects

  • Multiscale Muscle Mechanophysiology Projects

    Skeletal muscles are the motors for all of the wide range of voluntary movements. Each muscle's properties are beautifully tuned or "designed" for a specific function in the body. This tuning is achieved through variations in several structural components of muscle and can be easily disrupted by misuse or disease. The goal of our research is to identify the principles of muscle design by characterizing the relationships between muscle structure, mechanical properties, biology, and function. We are applying these findings to understanding and improving the treatments for musculoskeletal impairments associated with movement disorders, such as cerebral palsy. We are integrating a variety of computational and experimental approaches to achieve this goal. We create computational models of the musculoskeletal system that describe the complex three-dimensional architecture and geometry of muscles. We also develop nonlinear constitutive relationships for muscle that represent the properties of muscle cells and extra-cellular connective tissues. We use dynamic magnetic resonance imaging techniques to study the deformation and motion of muscles during joint movement. We perform anatomical measurements and tissue testing to characterize the arrangements of proteins in muscle and to determine the material properties of muscle tissue.