Skip to main content

in this section

Biomechanics and Mechanobiology

Mechanical forces play critical regulatory roles in many physiological and disease processes. Cornell’s program in Biomechanics and Mechanobiology includes collaborations between engineers, life scientists, veterinary, and medical professionals and continues to pioneer new fundamental and applied research.

A research portfolio of top ranked engineering, veterinary, and medical schools has enabled Cornell to pursue unparalleled breadth and depth in biomechanical and mechanobiological inquiry. Our research topics extend across 10 orders of magnitude in length, from nanoscale mechanics in individual cells and extracellular matrices to whole organ function in large animal models. Cornell is also pushing the frontiers of mechanobiology by linking cell and molecular biology to tissue structure at the meso-scale, creating new theories and experimental test systems that are integrated with genetic and molecular tools to discover functional principles in biological structures with the long-term goal of improving human health.

Cornell faculty and students are applying these principles to understand sub-cellular, cellular, and tissue-scale mechanics during development and in diseases such as cancer, muscular dystrophy, atherosclerosis, aortic valve calcification, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis.  The Biomechanics and Mechanobiology area has vibrant participation from a diverse population of graduate students from the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering and the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.  

Some specific faculty projects:

Prof. Larry Bonassar ’s lab focuses on elucidating mechanisms by which the complex microstructure of cartilage gives rise to its ability to resist multiaxial loading and minimize friction. They then apply these multiscale structure-property paradigms toward understanding the bio- mechanical uniqueness of different cartilages, including articular cartilage, auricular cartilage, airway cartilage, meniscus, and intervertebral disc.

Prof. Jonathan Butcher ’s lab integrates multi-scale computational modeling and micro scale experimental approaches to study the biomechanics and mechanobiology of cardiovascular soft tissue development, growth, remodeling, and disease. He has pioneered the use of Micro-CT for quantitative dynamic analyses of live embryonic growth and cardiac function. His group also utilizes molecular gain/loss strategies to understand how changes in adhesive signaling control heterogeneous cellular interactions critical for proper tissue architecture assembly both in vitro and in vivo.

Prof. Christopher Hernandez’s research concentrates on the material properties and mechanobiology of the musculoskeletal system and single celled organisms. His laboratory is interested in interactions between cell activity and bone structure and growth. His group uses clinical tissue, in vivo models, traditional and novel materials testing and micro- and nano-fabricated devices.
Prof. Jan Lammerding’s lab is developing and applying novel experimental techniques to probe subcellular mechanics and the cellular response to mechanical stimulation, with a particular focus on the cell nucleus. They are investigating to what extent impaired nuclear mechanics and increased cellular sensitivity to mechanical strain contribute to human diseases such as muscular dystrophy and cardiomyopathies, and whether increased nuclear deformability could also aid metastatic cancer cells to spread through the human body.

Prof. Marjolein van der Meulen’s research focuses on musculoskeletal mechanobiology and tissue mechanics. Her laboratory studies adaptation to mechanical loading during in development, maintenance, disease and repair of bone and other musculoskeletal tissues. Her lab is also interested in the determinants of whole bone strength and skeletal load-bearing function based on microscale tissue properties. Experiments in her laboratory combine in vivo models with in vitro testing, imaging and computational simulations.

Research Area Faculty

  Name Department Contact
sga42.jpg Adie, Steven G.
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Engineering B61 Weill Hall
607 255-2656
na424.jpg Andarawis-Puri, Nelly
Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor, Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 353 Upson Hall
607 255-1650
jfa79.jpg Antaki, James F.
Susan K. McAdam Professor of Heart Assist Technology
Biomedical Engineering 109 Weill Hall
lb244.jpg Bonassar, Lawrence
Daljit S. and Elaine Sarkaria Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical Engineering 149 Weill Hall
607 255-9381
jtb47.jpg Butcher, Jonathan T.
Associate Professor, Associate Director of BME, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Biomedical Engineering 304 Weill Hall
607 255-3575
bdc68.jpg Cosgrove, Benjamin David
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Engineering 159 Weill Hall
607 255-7271
eld26.jpg Donnelly, Eve
Assistant Professor, Dale R. Corson Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow
Materials Science and Engineering 227 Bard Hall
607 255-1067
lae37.jpg Estroff, Lara A.
Associate Professor
Materials Science and Engineering 329 Bard Hall
607 254-5256
cf99.jpg Fischbach-Teschl, Claudia
Associate Professor
Biomedical Engineering 157 Weill Hall
607 255-4547
cjh275.jpg Hernandez, Christopher J.
Associate Professor
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 355 Upson Hall
607 255-5129
tk499_eng.jpg Kawate, Toshi
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Sciences, Vet Med C4-151 Veterinary Medical Center
al274.jpg Lal, Amit
Robert M. Scharf 1977 Professor of Engineering
Electrical and Computer Engineering Room 120 Phillips Hall
607 255-9374
jl2792.jpg Lammerding, Jan
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
Biomedical Engineering 235 Weill Hall
607 255-1700
mjp31.jpg Paszek, Matthew J.
Assistant Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 360 Olin Hall
607 255-6277
as2833.jpg Singh, Ankur
Assistant Professor
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 389 Kimball Hall
607 255-2194
mcv3.jpg van der Meulen, Marjolein C.H.
James M. and Marsha McCormick Director of Biomedical Engineering; Swanson Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical Engineering 113 Weill Hall
607 255-1445
tmw65.jpg Wright, Timothy
Hospital for Special Surgery, Weill Cornell
mw272_eng.jpg Wu, Mingming
Associate Professor
Biological and Environmental Engineering