CBER holds biomechanics symposium
Irving M. Shapiro of Thomas Jefferson University addresses the Center for Biomedical Engineering Research symposium.
Christine Malecka discusses her poster.
Dave Logerstedt, left, with a poster presentation at CBER Research Day.
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2:37 p.m., May 18, 2009----The Center for Biomedical Engineering Research (CBER) at the University of Delaware held its annual biomechanics research symposium on May 15. The event, attended by more than 70 faculty and students, featured student presentations, a poster session, and a keynote address by Irving M. Shapiro, professor at Thomas Jefferson University.

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CBER is an interdisciplinary center focused on providing engineering science and clinical technology to reduce the impact of disease on the everyday life of individuals. Directed by Jill Higginson, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, CBER includes more than 35 faculty members from four departments at UD as well as researchers from other institutions.

Shapiro's talk, “Molecular Engineering of Orthopedic Implants: From Bench to Bedside,” described the collaborative development of a smart implant that may provide a solution to a problem that affects 2-5 percent of patients who undergo joint replacement surgery -- periprosthetic infection.

The infection results in revision surgeries that are more expensive, more painful, and less successful than primary implant surgeries. “The cost of this problem is astronomical,” Shapiro said. “It's currently estimated at half a billion dollars per year, which may be conservative, and it's rising.”

The smart implant is based on the use of a unique chemical system that covalently tethers an antibiotic to inert substances such as the titanium rods used in prosthetic knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows. It has been tested successfully in injured racehorses at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, and studies are underway to evaluate its efficacy in humans.

“So I guess the title of my talk is not completely accurate,” Shapiro quipped. “We haven't made it to the bedside yet, but we have reached the stable-side.”

Shapiro's lecture was followed by podium presentations of graduate student research, with awards given to the best presenters. Judges included Shapiro; Kurt Manal, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Darcy Reisman, assistant professor of physical therapy; and Steven Stanhope, interim dean of the College of Health Sciences and professor of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

Winners were postdoctoral researcher Christopher Price, for his paper “Direct Measurement of Loading-Enhanced Solute Transport Within the Lacunar-Cannicular System of Bone,” and graduate student Mehmet Uygur, for “Kinematics and Kinetics of Misstep Conditions: Implications for Femoral Fractures in the Elderly.”

An afternoon poster session featured more than 40 posters on a broad range of biomechanics topics. Poster session winners were postdoc Li-Wei Chou (“Motor Unit Discharge Behavior in Patients with Stroke”) and graduate student Christopher Henderson (“Articular Cartilage Contact Area Changes with Increasing Knee Flexion in Subjects with Moderate Knee Osteoarthritis: Appearance of Two Subgroups”).

All four winners received travel vouchers for use in presenting their work at national conferences.

“The symposium provides our students with a great opportunity to share their research, giving them valuable experience and laying the foundation for future collaborations with others in the UD biomechanics community,” Higginson says.

“We were very pleased to have Dr. Shapiro as our keynote speaker,” she continued. “He was able to engage the diverse audience and inspire us to seek creative and multidisciplinary solutions to the tough problems being addressed in the field of biomedical engineering.”

Shapiro, professor of orthopedic surgery, biochemistry, and molecular biology at Jefferson, serves on the external advisory committee for UD's COBRE (Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence) grant, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Article by Diane Kukich
Photos by Doug Baker