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Insigneo Seminar: modelling and in-vitro experiments in bone regeneration

Thursday, 13 June, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm BST

On Thursday 13 June 2019 Professor Laoise McNamara from the National University of Ireland will visit the Insigneo Institute and give a seminar on ‘modelling and in-vitro experiments in bone regeneration’ at 4pm in the Alfred Denny Conference Room.


Modelling and in-vitro experiments in bone regeneration
Professor Laoise McNamara, Mechanobiology and Medical Device Research Group (MMDRG), Biomedical Engineering, National University of Ireland, Galway

While tissue engineering approaches strive to regenerate bone tissue, various challenges such as degradation, poor vascularization, and a lack of mechanical integrity have hindered clinical implementation of tissue engineering bone. Our research strives to regenerate bone tissue by applying our understanding of the importance of mechanobiology for bone regeneration.

Specifically, we combine experimental studies, using in vitro cell culture and bioreactors, with computational modelling and mechanoregulation theory to investigate how mechanical loading, scaffold properties and structure, biochemical and cell-seeding approaches regulate bone regeneration.

We have developed multiscale and multiphysics computational models to investigate how bioreactor design, mechanical loading, scaffold properties and structure, and cell-seeding approaches regulate mechanical stimuli to cells within 3D constructs [1-3], see Fig. 1(A-C).

We investigate cell density distribution and bone regeneration in biomaterial scaffolds using a mechanoregulation model capable of predicting tissue differentiation, and apply these approaches to compare bioreactor loading regimes, see Fig. 1(D, E).

We developed in vitro approaches to mimic endochondral ossification, in particular chondrogenic and vascular priming, and investigated how these approaches enhance the osteogenic potential of hMSCs in vitro compared to culture in osteogenic growth factors. We have shown that chondrogenic and vascular priming can significantly increase the osteogenic
potential of hMSCs in vitro and in vivo [4-7]. We have developed 3D constructs complete with a network of osteoblasts and differentiated osteocytes by optimising the matrix stiffness and seeding densities [8, 9]. Based on our computational predictions and in vitro studies, a combined perfusion-compression bioreactor system was designed. Experimental studies validated the mechanical stimulation, viability and mineralisation potential of encapsulated osteoblasts cultured in porous hydrogels within these bioreactor systems. Combined oscillatory compression-perfusion stimulus led to osteocyte differentiation as indicated by cell morphology, DMP-1 expression and mineralisation.

Our combined approach of experimental and computational studies have provided an advanced understanding of the specific loading regimes, matrix properties and cell/biochemical strategies to enhance bone regeneration in vitro. Our novel bioreactor systems also provide mechanobiological models that mimic the complex multicellular environment but also encompass the appropriate mechanical environment representative of in vivo.

About Professor McNamara

Professor Laoise McNamara is a Personal Professor in Biomedical Engineering at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She established the Mechanobiology and Medical Device Research group at NUI Galway in 2009, which is currently comprised of 14 researchers. The MMDRG research group (www.mechanobiology.ie) use multidisciplinary approaches to understand  mechanobiology and how this process contributes to bone development and osteoporosis. They have developed novel multiphysics and multiscale computational modelling techniques and have applied these methods to derive an understanding of the mechanical stimuli that bone cells experience in vivo in healthy and osteoporotic bone tissue.

Her research group have uncovered changes in bone mechanobiology during osteoporosis. Her research has been applied to understand the role of mechanical stimulation in bone regeneration and she develops in vitro tissue regeneration strategies that exploit mechanobiological responses to overcome challenges in the field of bone tissue engineering. Professor McNamara’s research is informing the generation of novel therapeutic approaches for osteoporosis. Professor McNamara collaborates with Stryker, Boston Scientific and Medtronic applying her expertise in  computational and experimental biomechanics to the pre-clinical assessment of surgical and minimally invasive medical devices.

Professor McNamara was awarded an Irish Research Council (IRC) Laureate Award in 2018, the SFI Investigators Grant in 2015 and a European Research Council Starting Independent Researcher Award in 2011 along with various other Health Research Board, SFI and Irish Research Council funding. She has been awarded the ‘Bone and Joint Decade’ New Investigator Award by the Orthopaedic Research Society, and the Harold B. Frost Young Investigator Award by the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR). She has published more than 70 research articles in various high Impact Factor journals; PNAS, European Cells and Materials, the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Bone, Tissue Engineering Part A and the Biophysical Journal, among many others. She is a reviewer for over 20 peer-reviewed international journals. She has also acted as a Royal Academy of Engineering (UK) reviewer for the Irish Research Council for Science and Engineering Technology (IRCSET) Postdoctoral Fellowships scheme.

Professor McNamara a member of the Executive board and Platform Lead for the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CURAM) and is the Vice Dean for Recruitment and Internationalisation in the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway.


Thursday, 13 June
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


Alfred Denny Building Conference Room
Alfred Denny Building, Western Bank, University of Sheffield
Sheffield, S10 2TN United Kingdom
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