Biomechanics - A Force for Good

Susan Margulies, Ph.D.
Professor of Bioengineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) at Penn
University of Pennsylvania
Isermann Auditorium, CBIS, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Fri, December 09, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Cells within the body are exposed to forces and deformations during routine daily activities. These loading conditions may be necessary for normal growth and development, but when cells are deformed beyond a safe limit or injury threshold, function and structure may be altered temporarily or even permanently. Using an integrated biomechanics approach consisting of several simultaneous rigorous engineering experimental and theoretical analyses, we investigate the complex relationship between cellular and macroscopic responses in the brain and lung to these applied loads. We measure tissue mechanical properties, in situ loading conditions, and acute and chronic biological responses to the applied loads in clinically relevant preparations, and combine these elements to develop computational models. After validation against animal and human studies, we use these models to generalize our experimental findings and determine macroscopic mechanisms responsible for injury, development, and adaptation for a broad range of real-world environments. Concurrent investigations in our lab focus on molecular signaling pathways stimulated by loading conditions, with the goal of developing interventions to diminish or enhance responses. Biomechanics can be used as a force for good, and play a central role in our understanding of how the body responds and adapts to its physical environment, with medical, societal and legal implications.

Susan Margulies, Ph.D.

Susan Margulies, Ph.D. is a Professor of Bioengineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) at Penn. She received her BSE in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University (summa cum laude), her MSE and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Penn. She was an Assistant Professor at the Mayo Clinic before joining Penn’s faculty in 1993.

Professor Margulies was awarded the prestigious ALA Young Investigator and Whitaker Foundation Young Investigator Awards, and an NSF CAREER Award. Her research program is funded by NIH, Department of Transportation, Whitaker Foundation, and the CDC. She has published over 100 papers, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Discover Magazine, and by CNN and the BBC. She was elected a Fellow in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, American Society of Mechanical Engineering and the Biomedical Engineering Society. She currently serves as Chair of the NIH RIBT Study section, Vice-President of the Penn Forum for Women Faculty, and Chair-Elect of the University of Pennsylvania Faculty Senate.