Bone Bioengineering Laboratory

X. Edward Guo, Ph.D.
Professor of Biomedical Engineering

The research focuses of the Bone Bioengineering Laboratory are truly multidisciplinary and intersect traditional boundaries between biomechanics, biomedical imaging, and cellular bioengineering. The major thrusts of the current research include (1) image based microstructural and finite element analyses of skeletons, (2) in vitro mechanobiology of osteocytes, osteoblasts, and osteoclasts; and (3) 3D cell mechanics and mechanotransduction.

In the area of image based microstructural and finite element analyses of human skeletons, we have innovated and advanced and individual trabeculae segmentation (ITS) technique and demonstrated its unique power in basic micromechanics of human trabecular bone. More importantly, we have successfully translated this ITS technology into clinical studies of metabolic bone diseases. The most exciting development is the recent breakthrough in identifying dramatic and striking microstructural differences in bones between Chinese-Americans and Caucasians (see http://engineering.columbia.edu/prof-guo-leads-bone-strength-study ). It will have significant clinical, basic science, and anthropological implications as we begin to explore the genetic and environmental causes of these remarkable differences. Therefore, in addition to the active basic science and translational research being further developed in the Bone Bioengineering Laboratory, we are beginning to establish major research centers in China to examine microstructural bone phenotypes in native Chinese as well as to explore the possible differences among various Chinese populations such as between Chinese in Canton and Chinese in Manchuria.


In the area of in vitro mechanobiology of osteocytes, osteoblasts and osteoclasts, we have developed both two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) models for testing a series of novel hypotheses regarding the role of osteocyte network in sensing mechanical signal/mechanical memory and its regulations of osteoblast or osteoclast functions. These research explorations have been supported by a highly competitive ARRA Challenge Grant and a new NIH R01 grant.

The newly developed novel Quasi-3D microscopy of cells under fluid flow is supported by a recent NIH R21 grant. The novel technology provides an amazing ability to simultaneously visualizing and quantifying, in real-time and in 3D, the dynamics of two cytoskeletal components and signal activation via fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). This unique approach will provide high spatial and temporal specificities in studying single cell mechanics and mechanotransduction under complex flow conditions. Not only, this is a breakthrough technology in bone cell mechanics and mechanotransduction, but also a valuable approach in cancer cell migration/motility and endothelial cell mechanobiology.

 


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