IUTAM School on Biomechanical Modeling at the Molecular, Cellular and Tissue Levels

September 11, 2006 — September 15, 2006


  • Gerhard A. Holzapfel (Institute for Biomechanics, Graz, Austria)
  • Raymond W. Ogden (University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Great Britain)

The mechanics of biological structures at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels is a multidisciplinary area of research that is expanding rapidly and brings together researchers in biology, medicine, engineering, physics, chemistry, material science and applied mathematics.

The aim of the course is to present a state-of-the-art overview of biomechanical modelling at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels, with particular reference to nanostructures, cells, growth and remodelling, and the cardiovascular system. This will include experimental, continuum mechanical, computational and simulation aspects, with the emphasis on nonlinear behaviour. This provides a rational basis for applications to, for example, (i) tissue engineering, (ii) the design and development of tissue prosthetics, and (iii) the improvement of diagnostics and therapeutical procedures that involve tissue mechanics.

The course will include lectures on the importance of the nanoscale to the strength of natural materials, and focuses on the underlying molecular mechanisms of natural composite biological materials and their interactions at the molecular level in order to understand their crucial influence on, for example, growth. In tissue engineering porous scaffolds such as collagen-glycosamino-glycan are used to mimic the extracellular matrix to which cells normally bind. We explain the measurement of the contractile forces that the cells apply to the porous scaffold in vitro as a basis for improving understanding of the mechanical interactions between the cells and the scaffold. The ultimate goal is to engineer materials that enable the body to regenerate damaged or diseased tissues such as cartilage in arthritis patients. A theoretical framework for this process will be developed and explained taking account of the separate contributions of the constituents such as actin, intermediate filaments, and microtubules.

The lectures continue with a general theoretical framework for the description of growth and remodelling in biological tissues. This will focus on changing mass and the development of residual stresses, and is important for applications to wound healing, adaptation to arterial hypertension, aneurysm development, morphogenesis etc. The part on arterial tissue modelling in health and disease will focus on providing a basis for the implementation of mechanical models in numerical codes. Dissection-type failure following balloon angioplasty is investigated on a constitutive and numerical basis.

The course also includes passive and active cardiac mechanics by focusing on the histological structure of the heart wall, on an orthotropic microstructurally-based constitutive model for the myocardium, on remodelling phenomena and on a three-dimensional finite element model of the heart, which aims to accurately predict the mechanical changes in the left and right ventricular myocardia during the cardiac cycle.

The course is addressed to PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in mechanical and civil engineering, applied mathematics, physics, biomedical engineering, bioengineering, physiology and materials science interested in broadening their knowledge in the area of biomechanical modelling, and to senior scientists and engineers (including some from relevant industries).

See also