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J R Soc Interface. 2014 Aug 6;11(97):20140301. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2014.0301.

USNCTAM perspectives on mechanics in medicine.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.
Department of Structural Engineering, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.
Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
Department of Translational Imaging, The Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.
School of Engineering, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.
Molecular Cardiology, Texas Heart Institute, 6770 Bertner Avenue, MC 2-255, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-1229, USA.
Mechanical Engineering, Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Mass Avenue, Cambridge, MA, USA
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
Centre for Mechanics of Biological Materials, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.


Over decades, the theoretical and applied mechanics community has developed sophisticated approaches for analysing the behaviour of complex engineering systems. Most of these approaches have targeted systems in the transportation, materials, defence and energy industries. Applying and further developing engineering approaches for understanding, predicting and modulating the response of complicated biomedical processes not only holds great promise in meeting societal needs, but also poses serious challenges. This report, prepared for the US National Committee on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, aims to identify the most pressing challenges in biological sciences and medicine that can be tackled within the broad field of mechanics. This echoes and complements a number of national and international initiatives aiming at fostering interdisciplinary biomedical research. This report also comments on cultural/educational challenges. Specifically, this report focuses on three major thrusts in which we believe mechanics has and will continue to have a substantial impact. (i) Rationally engineering injectable nano/microdevices for imaging and therapy of disease. Within this context, we discuss nanoparticle carrier design, vascular transport and adhesion, endocytosis and tumour growth in response to therapy, as well as uncertainty quantification techniques to better connect models and experiments. (ii) Design of biomedical devices, including point-of-care diagnostic systems, model organ and multi-organ microdevices, and pulsatile ventricular assistant devices. (iii) Mechanics of cellular processes, including mechanosensing and mechanotransduction, improved characterization of cellular constitutive behaviour, and microfluidic systems for single-cell studies.


biomedical device design; cell mechanics; nanoparticle-mediated drug delivery

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