Department of Biomedical Engineering - Distinguished Lecture Series 2018/19

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Monday, September 17, 2018 to Wednesday, May 01, 2019
4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Floor/Room #: 
GP 1002

Distinguished Lecture Series in Biomedical Engineering

The Distinguished Lecture Series in Biomedical Engineering is designed to bring innovative leaders in the biomedical engineering field to the WPI campus to meet our outstanding faculty and students, and visit our interdisciplinary research facilities i

n the heart of Central Massachusetts.


  • Monday, September 17, 2018
    4:00pm to 5:00pm

    BME - Distinguished Lecture Series: "Pediatric Concussion Biomechanics: What We Need To Know" by Susan S. Margulies, PhD, Georgia Tech College of Engineering / Emory University School of Medicine

    Pediatric Concussion Biomechanics: What We Need To Know


    Susan S. Margulies, PhD
    Chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering
    Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University

    Concussions are diagnosed based on symptoms, and most assessments are influenced by the patients’ awareness of or willingness to report their symptoms, which undermines our ability to identify biomechanical thresholds associated with concussion using instrumented volunteers. In addition, the biomechanical environment, occasionally captured by sensors in helmets, patches and mouthguards often report limited information about the rotational movements of the head associated with concussion. Animal models can provide a controlled laboratory setting to investigate the relationships between the risk of concussion and the rapid head rotation magnitude and direction, as well has the contributions of age, sex, and previous concussions in the biomechanical thresholds for concussion.  Most animal models for traumatic brain injury typically exhibit loss of consciousness, axonal damage, and hemorrhage, often with focal contusions.  These animal models are representative of moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), but few mimic the more subtle cognitive and neurofunctional alterations without pathology found in concussion. Thus, animal model-derived biomechanical thresholds are typically for more severe brain injuries than concussion. Regardless, animal models insight into how head impacts and sudden head movements produce brain deformations and how brain deformations result in a spectrum of brain injuries, from mild to severe TBI.  Emerging research in objective, involuntary neurofunctional metrics and biomarkers can bridge the gap between human and animal research, and provide important insight into the biomechanics of concussion, to provide a rational foundation for injury prevention and treatment.  

    Dr. Margulies is the Chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, and the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Injury Biomechanics. She received her BSE in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton and PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Mayo. With over 30 years of experience in the area of traumatic brain injury research, and over 25 years in pulmonary biomechanics. Dr. Margulies has secured over $35 million in federal, private, and industry funding to discover injury mechanisms on the macro and micro scales, and translate basic research findings to improve clinical outcomes.  The head injury research program focuses on integrating mechanical properties, animal models, instrumented dolls, patient data, and computational models to identify injury mechanisms and relate biomechanics to outcomes.  Recent studies focus on developing assessments of cognition, memory and behavior in piglets and humans to improve concussion diagnosis and evaluate efficacy of therapies and interventions. Dr. Margulies is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Biomedical Engineering Society, and American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
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  • Monday, November 12, 2018
    4:00pm to 5:00pm

    BME - Distinguished Lecture Series: "Computational Model-Driven Design of Tissue Engineered Vascular Grafts" by Jay D. Humphrey, Yale University

    Computational Model-Driven Design of Tissue Engineered Vascular Grafts

    Jay D. Humphrey
    Department Chair
    Department of Biomedical Engineering
    Yale University

    The Fontan surgical procedure is used to treat children born with particular congenital heart defects, namely to provide a direct connection between the inferior vena cava and the right pulmonary artery. This procedure has proven successful in better oxygenating and delivering blood despite the absence of one ventricle. Synthetic conduits are useful, but they can lead to diverse complications and they cannot grow with the child. Tissue engineering promises to enable an improved vascular conduit and is in clinical trials in the USA. There is a need, however, to find an optimal scaffold design that can minimize possible post-operative complications.

       We previously showed that a basic constrained mixture formulation of vascular growth and remodeling [1] can be adapted to account for the in vitro development of a tissue engineered artery in a bioreactor [2] and we have now adapted this approach to describe the in vivo degradation of a polymeric scaffold that enables neotissue formation as a Fontan conduit [3,4]. Briefly, we include inflammatory effects due to the foreign body response and account for a transition from an immuno-biological to a mechano-biological driven production of extracellular tissue. Simulations demonstratethat the model can be parameterized to describe the evolving geometry and material properties of a tissue engineered graft over 6 months in a murine model relevant to the low-pressure Fontan circulation. Importantly, the model was then found to predict well subsequent evolution over the next 18 months [5]. Building on these prior successes, we are now focused on using formal methods of optimization to identify improved scaffolds.

    Professor Humphrey has over 30 years of experience in the field of continuum biomechanics, with primary interest in vascular mechanics and mechanobiology. Professor Humphrey's lab has considerable experience in the design and construction of novel computer-controlled multiaxial test systems, measurement of vascular tissue mechanical properties and in vivo hemodynamics, nonlinear constitutive formulations, and computational biomechanics (mainly finite elements). They have formulated a unique “Constrained Mixture Theory” for soft tissue growth and remodeling (G&R) that has provided significant insight into the biomechanics of arterial adaptations to altered hemodynamics as well as aneurysmal enlargement, vein graft maladaptation, and tissue engineered vascular graft development. They have developed a finite element model of the effects of pooled glycosaminoglycans within the aortic wall, a histopathological characteristic unique to thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections, and a fluid-solid-interaction model of the aortic tree that enables hypothesis generation and testing as well as experimental design. Much of their work relies on mouse models of mechano- and immuno-mediated vascular remodeling, which they phenotype biomechanically and model computationally.
    1. Humphrey, J.D., Rajagopal, K.R., (2002) Math Model Meth Appl Sci 12, p407.
    2. Niklason, L.E., et al. (2010) Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 107, p3335.
    3. Miller, K.S., et al. (2014) J Biomech 47, p2080.
    4. Miller, K.S., et al. (2015) Acta Biomat 11, p283.
    5. Khosravi, R., et al. (2015) Tiss Engr A 21, p1529.
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  • Monday, March 18, 2019
    5:00pm to 8:00pm

    Sotak Lecture in BME: Gilda Barabino, PhD, Dean of the Grove School of Engineering, The City College of New York

      Lecture 5 – 6pm / Reception 6 - 8pm

    Cell Biomechanics: Unlocking Determinants of Human Health and Disease


    Gilda Barabino, PhD

    Dean of Engineering, Professor

    The City College of New York


    The Department of Biomedical Engineering at WPI cordially invites colleagues, alumni, students, families and friends to the Christopher Sotak Lecture in Biomedical Engineering.

    This annual event perpetuates Chris’s passionate commitment to supporting and promoting innovative scholarship and research efforts in the field of bioengineering.


    Prof. Christopher Sotak
    1951 - 2011


    Our lecture will be given by Gilda A. Barabino, the Daniel and Frances Berg Professor and Dean of the Grove School of Engineering at The City College of New York (CCNY). She holds appointments in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering and the CUNY School of Medicine. Prior to joining CCNY, she served as Associate Chair for Graduate Studies and Professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory. At Georgia Tech she also served as the inaugural Vice Provost for Academic Diversity. Prior to her appointments at Georgia Tech and Emory, she rose to the rank of Full Professor of Chemical Engineering and served as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Northeastern University.  She is a noted investigator in the areas of sickle cell disease, cellular and tissue engineering, and race/ethnicity and gender in science and engineering. Dr. Barabino received her B.S. degree in Chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Rice University. She is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Xavier University of Louisiana and of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). She is Past-President of BMES, Past-President of AIMBE and the recipient of the Pierre Galetti Award, AIMBE’s highest honor.  Dr. Barabino is a member of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advisory Committee for Engineering and has served on the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council. She became a member of the congressionally mandated Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering in May of 2018. Dr. Barabino consults nationally and internationally on STEM education and research, diversity in higher education, policy, workforce development and faculty development. She is the founder and Executive Director of the National Institute for Faculty Equity.
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  • Monday, April 08, 2019
    4:00pm to 5:00pm

    BME Distinguished Lecture Series: "Biomechanics and the Upper Limb: Compelling Questions, Clinical Impact, and Basic Science" by Wendy M. Murray, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University
    Wendy M. Murray, PhD, Professor
    Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation,
    and Physical Therapy & Human Movement Studies,
    Northwestern University
    Shirley Ryan Ability Lab (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago)

    Abstract: The upper limb extends from the shoulder to the hand, and includes the shoulder, elbow, forearm, and wrist joints, as well as an additional 15 joints in the fingers and thumb. Completion of activities of daily living often involves postural changes at multiple joints simultaneously, and the challenge of coordinating functional movements is further complicated by the fact that many of the muscles in the upper limb cross and actuate multiple degrees of freedom. Biomechanical modeling, together with both static and dynamic simulation techniques, plays a critical role in the advancement of our understanding of function in the upper limb, with and without impairment. There are important challenges associated with simulating hand and arm movements, including the fact that the typical, functional movements performed using the upper limb are not cyclic and tend to be less stereotyped compared to the types of motions (e.g., gait) for which many popular simulation methodologies have been developed. Similarly, a relative paucity of applicable experimental data can slow the development of effective simulation studies, as interested biomechanists must often also simultaneously design the experimental studies needed in order to have any data to which they can compare their results. Overall, general scientific skepticism of conclusions drawn from simulation studies is a major challenge for simulation of any type of human movement. Despite these challenges, the advances in the field of biomechanical simulation present important opportunities for improving our understanding of neuromuscular control, impairment, and rehabilitation of the human upper limb. Especially considering the complexity and diversity of the types of movements we complete, insights derived from biomechanical simulation studies can provide focus. In my laboratory, the quantitative anatomy embedded in our models has helped us to generate new hypotheses and better define the experimental studies needed to test them, given the complexity of the system being tested. Similarly, we regularly use model-based approaches to integrate experimental results from multiple sources, broadening our overall understanding of the data. This last piece has proven especially important in translation of our research to clinicians. In general, modeling and simulation provide an important opportunity to advance the types of questions we can ask about upper limb function.

    Biography: Dr. Murray is Full Professor at Northwestern University with appointments in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences. She is the Director of the Applied Research in Musculoskeletal Simulation (ARMS) laboratory at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago), where she is appointed as a Research Scientist; she also holds an appointment as a Research Health Scientist at the Edward Hines VA Medical Center. Dr. Murray received her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame in 1990. She obtained her M.S. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. She completed post-doctoral training in Biomedical Engineering at the Cleveland FES Center at Case Western Reserve University, where she was named an NIDRR Mary Switzer Fellow. From 2000 to 2006, she developed an NIH-funded research program as an independent investigator for the Department of Veterans Affairs at the VA Palo Alto. She joined the Northwestern faculty in 2007.
    The foundation for Dr. Murray’s work is the development of biomechanical models that accurately represent the mechanical actions of the upper extremity muscles. The models and corresponding anatomical databases that Dr. Murray has shared with the scientific community have been cited hundreds of times. The main thrust of her current research is the application of these models to better understand and, ultimately, to help improve function of the disabled upper limb. Her work has relevance over a broad scope, including basic motor control, the design of control systems for exoskeletons and upper limb prosthetics, restoration of hand and arm function following cervical spinal cord injury, rehabilitation of hand and arm function following stroke, orthopaedic interventions for osteoarthritis, and prevention of injuries in baseball pitching. In addition to the NIH and VA investigator-initiated award funding that has enabled her research program to thrive, the trainees in her program have been awarded support from NIH, NSF, the Neilsen Foundation, the De Luca Foundation, and the American Heart Association. She is a member-at-large of the Executive Board of the US National Committee on Biomechanics and is Past-President of the American Society of Biomechanics.


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