Resilience Through Compliance: Attachment of Dissimilar Materials at the Rotator Cuff

Guy Genin, Washington University in St. Louis

Friday, January 27, 2012, 3:30pm

Spanos Auditorium

This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series.

Joining of dissimilar materials is a fundamental challenge in engineering. Nature presents a highly effective solution at the attachment of tendon to bone in the rotator cuff of the humeral head. This is of interest in surgical practice because of challenges associated with rotator cuff repair, where failure rates as high as 94% are observed following surgical repair of massive tears in elderly patients. We believe that these high failure rates are related to the inability of the natural tissue to re-grow following injury, and consider the highly effective natural system to be a model for engineering attachment. To engineer a replacement tissue for the tendon-to-bone insertion or to develop treatments for tendon-to-bone healing, we first need to understand hierarchical structure-function relationships and how they develop at the natural interface between tendon and bone. Our current work suggests that at the center of these is a cross-scale toughening mechanism whereby competing phenomena at the nanometer and micrometer scales combine to produce a millimeter-scale band of tissue between tendon and bone that is more compliant than either. This talk will focus on recent efforts to characterize, understand, and regenerate the cross-scale toughening and stiffening mechanisms that exist at the natural tendon-to-bone insertion site.

About the Speaker

Guy M. Genin studies hierarchical systems in physiology and nature. He earned B.S.C.E. and M.S. degrees from Case Western Reserve University, and S.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard. Thereafter, he performed post-doctoral research at Cambridge and Brown. He then moved to Washington University in St. Louis, where he has appointments as an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, the Center for Materials Innovation, and the Center for Innovation in Neuroscience and Technology. Dr. Genin chairs the ASME Bioengineering Division's Tissue and Cellular Engineering Committee. He is the recipient of numerous awards for research, teaching, and design, including an NIH research career award.