Dr. Stefaan Verbruggen conducted his PhD studies in the Mechanobiology and Medical Device Research Group at NUI Galway from 2010 to 2013, under the supervision of Dr. Laoise McNamara. This research was funded by the Irish Research Council and the European Research Council, and aimed to investigate the in vivo mechanical environment of bone cells. Using a combination of experimental and computational techniques, Stefaan’s studies provided a novel insight into the mechanobiology of bone cells, both in health and during the disease of osteoporosis.
Dr. Verbruggen’s thesis investigated the mechanical environment of the osteocyte in both healthy and osteoporotic bone, providing a greater understanding of bone mechanobiology. Using a combination of image segmentation and multiphysics computational modelling techniques, he developed accurate models of the intricate architecture of the lacunar-canalicular network and provided a novel insight into the mechanical stimuli sensed by the osteocyte in vivo.
Furthermore, Stefaan developed a novel combined experimental loading and confocal microscopy technique, allowing direct characterisation of the strains experienced by live bone cells in situ during physiological loading. His research has illuminated a possible mechanobiological link between strains experienced by osteocytes and the complex changes the properties of bone tissue that occur during the development of osteoporosis. These studies were recognised with multiple national and international awards, including Best Paper at the 21st Annual Symposium on Computational Methods in Orthopaedic Biomechanics, First Prize in the MIMICS Innovation Awards, and the 2013 Engineers Ireland Biomedical Research Medal.
More information on the exciting research being carried out in the McNamara Group can be found at mechanobiology.ie.