Glen Niebur

Professor and Department Chair, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Niebur Glen Hs 800x800
365A Fitzpatrick Hall of Engineering
Notre Dame, IN 46556
+1 574-631-3327

Research in the Tissue Mechanics Laboratory is currently focused on bone mechanobiology, with an emphasis on how mechanical loading affects bone marrow and osteocyte gene and protein expression.. We use bioreactor culture systems to apply controlled loading to bone explants harvested from animals, and construct computational models to determine the local stress or strain states. Mapping the mechanical environment to the biological response provides a mechanism to understand how bone or marrow cells respond to specific stress states.

We are using similar technology to help understand the interaction between bone mechanobiology and metastatic cancer. Cancer preferentially metastasizes to bone, and it is very difficult to detect the presence of cancer cells in the bone marrow within the mineralized tissue. Moreover, cancer in the bone environment may not respond to typical chemotherapies. We are trying to understand how the interaction with the normal mechanobiology of bone might affect the tumor biology.

The Tissue Mechanics Laboratory is also associated with the Harper Cancer Research Center, which provides resources for collaboration among biologists, physical scientists and engineers on the Notre Dame campus. We are also associated with the Notre Dame Center for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine. The goal of this center is to provide a scientific center for researchers at Notre Dame to pursue cell based therapies that will affect human health.

Tissue Mechanics Laboratory

Research Interests

The Notre Dame Tissue Mechanics Laboratory investigates the mechanical properties of biological tissues with a current emphasis on direct connections between mechanical forces and biological response in the form of altered gene and protein expression. Our primary tissue of interest is bone, where we are gaining insight into mechanobiological determinants of bone adaptation with application to diseases such as osteoporosis and metastatic cancers as well as orthopaedic device design.