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Tissue Mechanics Laboratory

Hierachical analysis and microstructural characterisation for tissue theranostics and regenerative medicine

Research Overview 

The Tissue Mechanics Group uses tranformative computational and experimental approaches that will address current limitations in tissue mechanics in the following areas, including i) understanding the quantitative structure-property relationship in tissue hierarchical structures across multiple length scales (ranging from organ to cellular level), in particular subjected to patho-physiological conditions, for improving tissue theranostics; and ii) design optimisation of the hierarchical microstructures of biomaterials towards the tailored micro/macro-properties, for the use of regenerative medicine. Our research is highly interdisciplinary and at the interface of engineering, materials science and biomedicine. 

Research Highlights

Tissue Mechanics - From Multiscale Structures to Digital Diagnostics  
Funded by EPSRC

In collaboration with Prof. Ke Chen (Liverpool), Dr. Pankaj Pankaj (Edinburgh) and Dr. Junjie Wu (Durham)

Biological tissue is a highly heterogeneous, anisotropic material with structural features at multiple length scales. Tissue functions and behaviours in both healthy and diseased models often largely rely on its microstructure. This project aims to evaluate the tissue quality using microstructural analysis, nonlinear mechanics and homogenisation method and design a computational tool using new microstructural indices for early diagnosis of microstructure-related disease at tissue level.

Prostate Tissue Mechanics - Microstructural Analaysis for Cancer Diagnostics  
Funded by EPSRC

In collaboration with Prof. Bob Reuben (Heriot-Watt) and Edinburgh Western General Hospital

Prostate cancer is usually preliminarily diagnosed by Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) due to the fact that cancerous prostatic tissue is often mechanically stiffer. This project aims at modelling the mechanical behaviour of prostate tissue (highly porous, interconnected and viscoelastic but may change subject to various pathological conditions) under different ways of mechanical palpation therefore identifying the most effective means to enable minimally-invasive early diagnostics of prostate cancer using 'probes-on-a-finger' device.

In Vivo Tissue Microenvironment Modelling for Regenerative Medicine  
Funded by USYD-IPDF

Understanding how tissue works in its microenvironment and how changes in microenvironment regulate cell/tissue activities is the key area and a question yet to be fully answered in regenerative medicine. It is aimed in this project to establish a theoretical framework of mechanical, chemical and biological interactions between cell/tissue and their microenvironment.

Modelling Tissue-Scaffold System for Bone Regeneration


Funded by ARC

In collaboration with Prof. Qing Li (Sydney) and Prof. Juergen Siepmann (Lille)

Biodegradable scaffolds play a critical role in tissue engineering, in which the matrix degradation and tissue ingrowth are of particular importance for determining the ongoing performance of tissue-scaffold system during regenerative process. This project focuses on understanding how scaffold degradation and  tissue regeneration compete with each other during the bone regeneration process, where the mechanical microenviroment is constantly changing thus regulating the healing outcome.

Microstructural Design of Biodegradable Porous Tissue Scaffold  
Funded by ARC
In collaboration with Prof. Qing Li (Sydney)

The goal of this research is to utilize topology optimisation as a mathematical means for design and optimization of the tissue scaffolds micro-architectures. To achieve this, a framework of multi-objective topology optimization involving both mechanical and fluidic criteria is developed, where effective stiffness of scaffold is designed to match to host bone tissue while  the effective permeability is maximised under prescribed porosity. For regulating bio-fluidic characteristics, a wall shear stress uniformity criterion is also adopted to work with non-gradient level-set method and bi-directional evolutionary structural optimization method for achieving uniform wall shear stress distribution on the scaffold microstructural surfaces and a sustained lifetime of scaffold matrix subject to shear-induced erosion.