Mechanobiology and Tribology of the Skin - from Experimental Characterisation to Modelling

June 24, 2019 — June 28, 2019


  • Georges Limbert (University of Southampton, UK and University of Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Marc Masen (Imperial College London, UK)

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The skin is the first line of defence of our body against the external environment and acts as a complex multi-functional physical interface. It controls many types of exchanges between our inner and outside worlds which take the form of mechanical, thermal, biological, chemical and electromagnetic processes.

The complexity of skin mechanobiology and tribology can only be unravelled by adopting interdisciplinary research approaches which integrate physical experiments, imaging and modelling. As a consequence, researchers, must be trained in a wide range of topics from experimental physics, skin biology, continuum mechanics, soft matter physics, mathematical modelling and data analysis, through multiscale imaging protocols and image processing to finite element methods and computational procedures. Often, researchers in mechanobiology/biomechanics lack fundamental knowledge about surface physics and soft matter tribology while scientists/engineers focussing on tribology do not appreciate the inherent complex interplay between biological processes associated with cell activity, skin microstructure, material properties of its elemental constituents and the resulting surface effects associated with contact and friction.

The ambition of the course is therefore to provide a consistent and holistic introduction to modern research focussed on skin mechanobiology and biotribology whilst also covering advanced topics at the experimental and modelling levels. The aim of the course is to present the current state of the art as well as basic associated methods and theories.

The lectures will address in particular the fundamental aspects of skin mechanobiology (biology, physiology, structural organisation, damage and wound healing), characterisation techniques (mechanical properties, tribological properties, acoustic wave propagation techniques, experimental testing devices, numerically-based inverse identification techniques) as well as mathematical and numerical modelling approaches (basic foundations of non-linear continuum mechanics, constitutive modelling and associated finite element techniques, image-based modelling and analysis of skin surface instabilities).

Throughout the course the lecturers will point to future directions and challenges in research in the broad area of skin biophysics and also illustrate how the presented theories and techniques are used to solve practical problems of fundamental and industrial relevance.

This course is not only addressed to doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers in biomedical/mechanical/civil engineering, biophysics and applied mathematics but also to more senior scientists and engineers in academia and industry, with a special interest in skin mechanobiology and tribology. The summer school will also be an excellent opportunity to foster discussions between young and more established researchers in a very conducive atmosphere, to encourage interactions between experts with different background and to educate the next generation of researchers.


See also