Biomedical engineering faculty members conduct research in injury biomechanics, health care and more. Further details about research areas, labs, projects and initiatives can be found below.

  • Bioengineering Center

    The mission of the Bioengineering Center is to promote fundamental discoveries, design and development of technologies and education in the understanding, mitigation and prevention of impact associated injuries.

    The bioengineering research program at Wayne State University began in 1939 as an interdisciplinary effort between the College of Engineering and the School of Medicine. The Bioengineering Center was first established by Professor Herbert Lissner as the Biomechanics Research Center in the Department of Engineering Mechanics. In 1963, the Center was chartered by the Board of Governors of Wayne State University and appointed Professor Lissner as its first director.

    Over the past 68 years, the Center has developed into a modern research powerhouse with the principal aim of promoting fundamental discoveries, designing and developing technologies for human safety, and educating students in the understanding, mitigation, and prevention of impact associated injuries. Our research includes both basic science research (such as studying the mechanisms of brain injury, biomaterial properties of the kidney capsule subject to high-speed loading, and etiology of low back pain) and practical safety research (such as evaluating the potential adverse effects of airbags and how the helmet protects an athlete from concussion). In recent years, we are applying the knowledge gained during the past half century of research in impact biomechanics towards the development of computer models of human body segments and of the whole body. These tools are being used to design countermeasures to reduce injury.

  • Advanced Human Modeling

    The Advanced Human Modeling Laboratory (AHML) of the Bioengineering Center is equipped with two high-speed clusters linked by Myrinet network for high performance computing and a range of RAID devices for real-time back-up. Models developed at AHML include human component models from head to toe and a number of animal head models for head injury investigations.

    Current Projects:

    ANSIR: The project code-named ANSIR (Anthropomorphic Numerical Surrogate for Injury Reduction) is aimed to develop a range of whole body and component human models for improved occupant safety. The current paradigm of designing a safer vehicle is to conduct biomechanical studies in order to obtain human response data to design anthropomorphic crash dummies, which in turn are used to develop and evaluate new concepts for vehicular safety systems. Unfortunately, significant differences exist between the dummy and the human. For instance, dummies are designed to emulate human responses in a handful of impact directions and are unable to fully simulate bony fractures. Nonetheless, dummies have become part of the regulations set forth by governmental agencies , and as a result, while modern day cars are much safer than their predecessors, one may say that today's cars are designed to be safe for dummies. With the rapid advancement in computing technology, modeling the human occupant has become an achievable goal and the present aim of this laboratory is to develop a family of numerical surrogates to investigate human injury mechanisms and tolerances.

    MRMC Pig Head Modeling: The aim of this work is to develop and validate a computer model of the pig brain simulating the effects of a blast overpressure. Based on our prior work on the development of a computer model of the rat brain subjected to a shock wave, a similar approach will be taken to develop a model of the minipig. In the first step, we shall need to model the shock wave generation from a free field explosion and then its propagation in the air. The next step is to develop a detailed model of the minipig's head and brain. Using MRI data of the minipig, we will construct a mesh to represent the entire head and neck of the minipig that is detailed enough for the calculation of intracranial responses for comparison with biomechanical measurements and with the injury data obtained from our blast experiments, including histological data. A fluid/solid interface (FSI) algorithm will be used to compute the forces acting on the head of the minipig and the reflection of the pressure wave from the skull and transmission of the pressure pulse into the brain.

    MRMC Blast Modeling:As a part of the three-year project "Prevention of blast-related injuries" supported by the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (MRMC), this study aims to simulate the blast effect on the brain with a pig head computer model. The head model was developed based on medical images (CT and MRI) and included sufficient anatomic details. The blast wave was modeled with an Arbitrary Lagrangian Eulerian approach and the interaction of blast and head was computed based on solid/fluid coupling algorithms. The model predictions (e.g. intracranial pressures and accelerations) were validated against experimental data. A 3D injury map within brain will be further established to link the response parameters and injuries.

    Anthropometric test device modeling: Anthropometric test devices (ATD's), such as Hybrid-III crash test dummy, have been applied to simulate the lower extremity response of mounted soldiers under anti-vehicular (AV) mine blast loading conditions. Numerical simulations such as finite element (FE) analysis of such high-speed vertical loading on the ATD parts require accurate strain rate-dependent material parameters. This study presents a combined experimental and computational study to calibrate the rate-dependent properties of three materials on the Hybrid-III dummy lower extremity, i.e. heel pad foam, foot skin and lower leg flesh, which can greatly affect the force and moment transferred to the lower extremity. The heel pad foam was tested through a standard uniaxial compressive testing protocol at a wide range of strain rates, and its material parameters could be directly determined using the stress-strain curves obtained. Since the foot skin and lower leg flesh were of irregular shape, component level tests, i.e. axial impact and dynamic three-point bending tests were performed on the foot and lower leg components, respectively. Based on experimental data, an optimization-based methodology was used to calibrate the material parameters. The processes combined computations with a set of optimization procedures to systematically adjust the material input parameters until the calculated mechanical responses optimally matched those measured experimentally. Results indicate that optimized material models generated from these procedures reasonably replicates the experimentally obtained response data and outperform the non-optimized counterparts.Rat and Mouse Brain modeling: Human brain injury is very complex and heterogeneous. As a result, various laboratory brain injury experiments were developed to investigate brain injury mechanisms and therapeutic strategies. The most used animals in the laboratory were rat and mouse. We developed anatomically-detailed high quality rat and mouse brain finite element models to investigate intracranial biomechanics during the laboratory-controlled in vivo brain injury experiments, and correlate intracranial biomechanics to physiological, neurological, and morphological alterations in the brain. These numerical models provided a unique opportunity to comprehensively describe intracranial tissue stretch/stress/pressure, for focal impact, diffuse impact, and inertial loading (linear/rotational accelerations. Results demonstrated that brain contusion was related to tissue stretch (30% strain), rather than traditionally-perceived positive brain pressure. Also, there were positive relations between neuronal cell loss percentages and maximum principal strain. The numerical simulations further provided a biomechanical answer for a long-lasting question that why CA3, which is positioned deep inside the brain, was more injured during controlled cortical impact. Currently, the rat and mouse brain models are being used to investigate biomechanics of mild traumatic brain injury, especially concussion and blast injuries. The new experimental designs are being developed with the aid of virtual experiments being performed in the computer. (Part of the above descriptions were edited from Dr. Haojie Mao's PhD thesis and papers)

    Toyota 10YO modeling:Because human bodies change with age, injuries sustained in vehicular crashes by children differ in important ways from adult. Existing computer models of the human body used to study how vehicular occupants move and interact with a vehicle in a simulated crash event do not adequately account for age differences. Toyota's CSRC and Wayne State University Bioengineering Center have partnered to expand the available FE tools in order to empower engineers to design vehicle safety systems that take into account differences in body characteristics, in effort to reduce the injuries of children. The project aims to develop a new FE model representing the body structure of a 10-year-old child. Based on the FE model, numerical simulations are conducted to identify occupant kinematics and loads sustained during impact events. Age specific material properties of biological tissues (i.e. bone and organs) are adopted to increase the accuracy of the simulated occupant, and help correlate the measured forces to injury probability.

    75-year old Female Modeling:Elderly small female occupants are at greater risk of death and serious injuries in motor-vehicle crashes than the mid-size, young, male occupants. However, current injury assessment tools, including crash test dummies and finite element (FE) human models, generally do not account for different body shape and composition variations among the population. This study aims to develop the FE model for the elderly female which will help to close the gap between current safety testing and the actual injuries sustained by this vulnerable population.

    Infant Brain Model:Head injury is the leading cause of pediatric death and child abuse is the leading cause of head injury in infants. Short falls are also extremely common events in infants and young children as they learn to roll, climb, and walk. The injury potential of short falls in infants and young children is a question often debated in the courts, and rigorous injury biomechanics research is still needed to provide more objective and definitive answers. To accurately figure out whether a pediatric head injury is consistent with the cause stated by the caregivers, accurate tools and associated head injury criteria are needed. Given the limitations of current pediatric assessment tools, the overall goal of this research is to develop a new concept of using subject-specific pediatric head FE models to help provide more accurate head injury assessment in specific cases.


    Yang, King H.
    Professor of Biomedical Engineering & Director of Bioengineering Center

    Zhang, Liying
    Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering

    Begeman, Paul C.
    Research Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering

    Jin, Xin
    Research Assistant Professor
    Research Interest: Experimental and finite element study on biological tissues properties and whole body impact biomechanics

    Zhou, Runzhou
    Graduate Research Assistant
    Graduate Research Interest: Traumatic brain injury: Rat brain diffuse axonal injury

    Saif, Tal
    Graduate Research Assistant
    Research Interest: Impact Biomechanics.

    King, Albert
    Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Biomedical Engineering

  • Anthropometry
  • Automotive Safety Group (ASG)

    The formation of the Automotive Safety Group (ASG) at Wayne State University on Feb. 26, 2013 evolved from a long tradition of research initiated in 1939 when Professor Lissner and Dr. Gurdjian started their modern day injury bio-mechanics research.  This interdisciplinary team consists of members from Wayne State's College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Science, School of Medicine, and College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences all working toward the common goal of saving lives.       


    Through integration of interdisciplinary research, ASG aims to develop ideas that will:

    • lead to gross reduction of automotive-related crashes. 
    • keep the risk of injury to a minimum if a crash cannot be avoided. 
  • Ballistics

    This laboratory, located in Wayne State University's Bioengineering Center, is equipped to study the injurious effects of non-lethal munitions as well as behind body armor effects. With 50 linear feet, the range is equipped to test up to .30 caliber rounds. The range is one of a few facilities where both live fire ammunitions and cadaveric specimens/animal surrogates can be tested.

    The range is equipped to test according to the NIJ 0101.04 with an ESPEC ESL-2CA environmental chamber for completion of the backface signature test and full hand loading capabilities. Velocities are determined with an Oehler 35P chronograph with three model 57 screens measuring 16 X 26 internally. A rubber composite bullet trap (Caswell-Armor) is located at the remote end of the range.


    A single, seven-foot lane culminates with a camera bay adjacent to a target field containing ARRI 1000 tungsten lights for high-speed videography. Two HG 100K color cameras are available providing high-speed video capabilities of up to 100,000 frames per second per camera. An additional Kodak 4540 camera is available with up to 40,000 frames per second capabilities. A total of 144 channels of A-to-D data collection are available in the range using the TDAS-Pro system (DTS Inc).

    Firing can occur through one of three mechanisms: a universal receiver (H.S. Precision, Inc.), air cannon or firearm. A computerized control system operates the universal receiver, which can fire 9 mm, .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and 12 gauge ammunitions. The current air cannon system can fire 37 mm sub-munitions through the use of compressed gases. Both 37 and 40 mm launchers, a 12 gauge Remington 870, and a 12 gauge Benneli Nova are available as well.


    Although no formal standard currently exists for the evaluation of less-lethal munitions, Wayne State University has developed an internal test methodology to assess the injury potential of these munitions. Three factors must be considered: accuracy, blunt trauma and penetrating trauma.

    The risk of penetrating trauma is important to assess due to the increase in severity of injuries seen once the munition penetrates into the body cavity. One factor to consider is the amount of energy generated by the munition. In addition, it is important to determine the energy per area of presentation ratio or E/a value. This value takes into account the mass, velocity, and the cross-sectional area of the projectile. Simply reporting energy is insufficient for comparison of different samples and projectiles. The penetration assessment surrogate is composed of 20 percent ballistic gelatin, foam, and natural chamois.

    The risk of blunt trauma to the thorax has been assessed by using an empirically based injury criterion called the viscous criterion (VC). This criterion has used extensively for motor vehicle occupants to predict the severity of injury. The VC is calculated based on the amount of thoracic compression and the velocity at which this compression occurs. The amount of thoracic compression was defined as the displacement of the chest in relationship to the spine normalized by the initial thickness of the thorax. VC has been validated as a useful tool in determining injury severity related to blunt ballistic impacts to the thorax. Blunt trauma assessment of less-lethal munitions is conducted at Wayne State University with the 3-RBID ballistic impact surrogate.

    Don Sherman

  • Biocompatibility

    Implantable medical devices are increasingly important in the practice of modern medicine. While the mechanical requirements of these implantable medical devices are fairly well characterized, almost all medical devices suffer to a different extent from adverse reactions, including inflammation, fibrosis, thrombosis and infection. This program focuses on the evaluation of the cellular and tissue compatibility of synthetic materials used as replacements for damaged or diseased human tissue. Polymeric, metallic, and ceramic materials are investigated for their ability to initiate the cellular activation, influence on cellular proliferation, differentiation and attachment. Facilities include a complete cell culture lab, fluorescent microscopy, protein and cell labeling equipment, gel electrophoresis and Western blotting apparatus, and ELISA.


  • Bioinstrumentation

    Modern experimental research requires the combination of many traditional disciplines including electrical and mechanical engineering, chemistry, optics and mathematics, together with anatomy and pathology, physiology and molecular biology, genetics and pharmacology, and pathophysiology of different diseases. The goal of the bio-instrumentation track is to bring together these areas to understand how different instruments used in biology and medicine work and to develop novel medical equipment for diagnosis, therapy and monitoring of different diseases, as well as to enable innovative biomedical research aimed at addressing emerging questions in biology and medicine.

    Students in the bioinstrumentation track will gain both basic and advanced knowledge about biomedical electronic and medical device design, conventional and novel detectors for biological signals, signal processing, and image processing. In parallel, students will learn physiological features of the musculo-skeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, nervous and endocrine systems. This knowledge is important for the understanding of which biological signals should be detected and how those signals should be processed, and quantified, using modern technologies in sensor and instrumentation design, and interpreted using advanced computational analysis and bioinformatics.

    The students in this track have the opportunity to move quickly from a device concept to a prototype and rapidly iterate their designs.

    To learn more, please contact:

  • Biomechanics of musculoskeletal systems

    Bone is a living tissue as well as a structural material, and as such it is susceptible to the effects of age, disease, and injury. Thus, it is important to study the range of factors that can affect the mechanical competence of the skeletal system. By employing micromechanical, imaging, modeling, and non-destructive techniques, the biological and mechanical factors that affect skeletal integrity can be investigated. A better understanding of the mechanisms that provide bone with its mechanical competence can be largely utilized in the development of more accurate diagnostic techniques and treatment modalities for diseases associated with skeletal fragility and in the design of orthopaedic implants and biomimetic materials.

    In addition to isolated tissue studies, the interaction of structures within the musculoskeletal system (muscles, bones, joints, etc.) can lend substantial insight into the physiology and biomechanics of this complex system. High speed radiographic techniques can be used to investigate the the motion and interaction of bony and soft tissue structures in order to obtain this information for the in vivo environment.

    With an estimated mortality rate of 20 percent, the 250,000 hip fractures which occur each year are one of the leading causes of fatal injuries in the U.S. Vertebral fractures have a less traumatic effect on the half million individuals they affect annually, but they can lead to chronic pain and disability. The diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis have improved dramatically over the past few years. Bone loss occurs in all individuals with age; however, the factors which most increase the risk of fragility fractures are still being investigated. New technologies in imaging and ultrasonic assessment of hard tissues may increase our understanding of how age alters the geometric and mechanical properties of bones and leads to increased fracture risk. This data can be used for better modeling of bone biomechanics and may lead to more targeted diagnostic and therapeutic techniques.


    King-Hay Yang

  • Blast induced trauma

    Mechanism of blast-induced neurotrauma

    Blast-related neurotruama is quickly becoming one of the most frequently seen injuries in military personnel. Persistent symptoms such as headaches sleep disturbance, and light and noise sensitivities are reported from individuals exposed to blasts. Cognitive functions (attention, memory, language, and problem solving skills) also appear to be disrupted. Furthermore, behavioral symptoms such as impulsiveness, and emotional changes such as depression and anxiety are of significant concern (Okie S, N Engl J Med, 2005).

    Our research focuses on neurotrauma due to blast overpressure exposure. We investigate several aspects of the brain trauma from the sub-cellular to the tissue level. We are examining the effects of overpressure on individual brain cell types (neurons and glial cells). We are interested in solving the fundamental questions concerning the mode of blast energy transfer to the brain as well as the consequent damage or disruptive mechanisms at the cellular level. Our research is innovative because it integrates the fields of biomechanics and neuroscience, which is necessary to understand the mechanism behind blast-related neurotrauma. We hope that investigating the mechanism of overpressure injury will provide the groundwork for reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with blast neurotrauma.

    • Shock Tube Model
      • Biomechanics of Shock Wave
      • Overpressure-Related Neurotrauma
    • Barochamber Cellular Injury Model

    Biomaterials and tissue regeneration

    After traumatic injuries occur, promoting tissue repair and regeneration is vital for restoring function. In order to help support the repair and regeneration processes, we are studying novel biomaterials strategies that incorporate chemical and physical cues to more effectively advance clinical outcomes. The focus of our biomaterials research group includes studies in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. In addition, we are interested in bridging this work to orthopaedic materials. We are proposing new concepts to treat damaged peripheral nerves. Our laboratory is using state-of-the-art equipment such as an electrospinner to engineer nanoscale biomaterials for nerve conduits. Furthermore, it is essential to examine the neuronal and glial cell response to these novel biomaterials. Similar techniques are being utilized to fabricate biomimetic materials for bone grafting. Natural biomaterials currently lack the strength to be used for supporting load bearing bone. Our novel techniques are improving the strength of these biodegradable materials. Additional studies investigate biomaterial options for neural implants and effects surface topography will have on neuronal and glial cells actions. Collectively, we are striving to improve the reparative process in bone and nervous tissue that has been injured. Novel biodegradable and biomimetric materials are being optimized to improve functional recovery.

    • Peripheral Nerve Regeneration
    • Biomimetic Bone Grafts
    • Modification of Materials for Glial Scar Reduction


    Liying Zhang
    Associate Professor

  • Computational modeling

    The Advanced Human Modeling Laboratory of the Bioengineering Center is working on a project code-named ANSIR (Anthropomorphic Numerical Surrogate for Injury Reduction). The current paradigm of designing a safer vehicle is to conduct biomechanical studies in order to obtain human response data to design anthropomorphic crash dummies, which in turn are used to develop and evaluate new concepts for vehicular safety systems. Unfortunately, significant differences exist between the dummy and the human. For instance, dummies are designed to emulate human responses in a handful of impact directions and are unable to fully simulate bony fractures. Nonetheless, dummies have become part of the regulations set forth by governmental agencies, and as a result, while modern day cars are much safer than their predecessors, one may say that today's cars are designed to be safe for dummies. With the rapid advancement in computing technology, modeling the human occupant has become an achievable goal and the present aim of this laboratory is to develop a family of numerical surrogates to investigate human injury mechanisms and tolerances.

    Research projects:

    • Development of vehicle occupant models for vulnerable populations
    • Spine and lower extremity injuries due to high-velocity impacts
    • Rodent head model development
    • Pig head model development
    • Human head model development
    • Numerical simulations of vehicular safety

    Completed projects

    • Characterizations of material properties
      • Magnesium
      • Rat skull
    • Bovine pia-arachnoid complex
    • Spontaneous hip fracture
    • Reduction of aorta ruptures in automotive crashes


  • Enabling Technology Laboratories and rehabilitation engineering

    The Enabling Technology Laboratories (ETL) is a pioneer in the development and application of accessible and universal design techniques in the workplace and educational settings. The ETL develops novel technologies and systems for use by the disabled to improve their functional abilities in daily tasks and work activities. The ETL technologies address both the physical and cognitive demands of tasks and activities. Products include the Coordinator System, a collection of task specific modules and a controller which provides workers with feedback in weighing, counting, sorting, and packaging tasks, an indexing turntable to assist individuals with a limited range of motion with such activities as item placement and assembly tasks, and agile devices using Creform pipe & joint technology addressing material handling and positioning concerns. Projects are often patient or client specific. The laboratory receives support from the National Science Foundation, numerous corporations, and a number of school districts within the state of Michigan. The rehabilitation engineering laboratory of the Rehabilitation Institute is involved with the characterization of gait and muscular activity in normal and disabled individuals as well as the development of novel therapies and devices to assist those with reduced mobility and other disabilities.


    Chaoyang Chen
    Adjunct Associate Professor

  • Impact biomechanics

    Virtually everyone who rides in a motor vehicle or in a jet aircraft has been and will continue to be affected by the research conducted by the Bioengineering Center. The current head injury criterion in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 208 is based on the Wayne State Tolerance Curve. The new requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to strengthen aircraft seat anchors is based on a sled impact pulse developed at Wayne State University. Recently, Volvo introduced a side impact airbag, the design of which resulted in part from our side impact research data. These data are also part of the side impact dummy response specifications of the International Standards Organization. In fact, these data indicated that the Federal Side Impact Standard needed improvement in order to protect the human occupant and are part of the reason the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have revisited this issue.

    Current research efforts include experimental and analytical analyses of the impact responses, injury tolerances and injury mechanisms of the human body from head to foot. Using finite element modeling techniques, we have developed a human head model that is made up of more than 300,000 elements. The model has been validated against all available experimental data including relative motion between the brain and skull, captured using a high-speed biplane x-ray system, both with and without a helmet on the head. This model is being used to determine the threshold for concussion in American football and is being tested by various groups throughout the world in efforts to better protect pedestrians and vehicular occupants. In the neck region, rear-end impact, motor sports, and rollover are under investigation. In the chest region, the bi-axial properties of aortic tissue and traumatic rupture of the aorta are being examined. Additionally, emphasis has been placed on finding gender differences in chest impact response and injury thresholds of shoulder ligaments. In the abdominal region, constitutive equations for representation of solid organ response are under development. For the lower extremities, the impact responses of muscles and injury thresholds of knee ligaments and the foot are being studied. Each of these areas of research contributes to the ongoing development of a whole human body human model.


    Dynamic Materials Testing: Four servo hydraulic Instron universal material testing systems and a high-speed Instron material testing machine. The high-speed Instron features a full digital closed loop control system and automatic calibration and auto ranging programmable event detectors. The maximum speed of this dynamic testing system is 20M/S.

    Data Acquisition Systems: High speed data acquisition systems include DTS ( 128 channels) and Kayser Threde (64 channels) to capture data at a rate of up to 100,000 samples/s per channel.

    Video Acquisition Systems: Nine digital video cameras capable of capturing up to 100,000 frames/s.

    ATD's: Family of Hybrid III dummies includes six-month CRABI, 5th percentile female, 50th percentile male, and 95th percentile male. The Center also has a BioSID and a THOR dummy.

    Other: Complete in house machine shop and a vast collection of transducers.


    Hyge Sled

    The 12-inch HYGE sled can accelerate a maximum payload of 800 kgs to a speed of 60 km/h. The sled deck measures 2 X 3 m to accommodate various test requirements. A metering pin is used to govern the acceleration pulse shape and impact duration to simulate a variety of front, side, rear, and oblique impacts. The entire setup is controlled via a numerical system to allow maximal repeatability.

    Wham III Sled

    The Wayne Horizontal Acceleration Mechanism (WHAM) III on a 40 m long track is a versatile experimental tool for studying all types of impact environments. The sled deck measures 6 X 3 m to accommodate up to 8,000 kgs of payload to a maximum speed of 129 km/h. The WHAM III sled can be used to study rigid concrete barrier crashes of an entire vehicle, as a propulsion mechanism to study pole or other narrow object impact, or to conduct sled experiments with a deceleration pulse controlled by a hydraulic decelerating mechanism to simulate various vehicular crash profiles.


  • Magnetic resonance imaging

    Magnetic resonance imaging holds great promise for investigating not only anatomical structures of the human body, but also the physiological processes. The Magnetic Resonance Imaging Institute for Biomedical Research has developed a number of important and exciting applications for this mode of imaging as they pertain to both clinical and basic science. This includes sequence design, image reconstruction, image processing and clinical applications. Among the areas that have been pioneered are: MR angiography, fast imaging, new construction methods, susceptibility weighted imaging and coronary artery imaging. In the area of neuro-imaging, the focus here has been on neuro-vascular related diseases. This includes the application of MRI for cerebral vasculature evaluation, vessel tracking, perfusion imaging, and the use of susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) to look for irregularities in the venous vasculature and for increases in brain iron content. This has a clinical application in the areas of stroke, trauma, occult vascular disease, and the study of angiogenesis in tumors. Another area of interest is cardiovascular imaging, where efforts are directed at creating 3D coronary artery imaging technology for MRI. Future research efforts hope to apply the SWI imaging methods to evaluate the viability of the myocardium.

    BME faculty members associated with research field:

  • Molecular and cellular imaging

    Molecular and cellular imaging allows for the visualization and quantification biological processes at cellular levels. This program integrates and enhances the existing expertise and strengths of our BME faculty members in head injury biomechanics, spine neurophysiology, orthopaedic trauma and inflammation, computational biomechanics, and neural tissue engineering. Our general interest focuses on the development of molecular probes that are able to monitor specific biological processes under physiological settings. We are combining synthetic and physical organic chemistry, radiochemistry, and molecular biology together with imaging techniques such as fluorescence microscopy and positron emission tomography (PET).

    BME faculty members associated with research field:

  • Smart sensors

    The Center for Smart Sensors and Integrated Microsystems in collaboration with the Wayne State University Medical School are currently working on an array of biomedical sensor devices and systems. Current initiatives include (i) intercranial pressure measurement sensors, (ii) a heart transplant multi-gas sensor, (iii) acoustic wave biosensors and arrays, and (iv) a retina and cortical implant project. As an example, the heart transplant multi-gas sensor is designed to monitor the in vitro heart carbon dioxide, oxygen and methane for determination of heart viability during transplant and for basic laboratory cardio research experimentation. A micro-catheter with multisensors is under development for direct insertion into cardiac blood vessels and tissue for this application.

    BME faculty members associated with research field:

  • Spine Research Laboratory

    The Spine Research lab is a 1,400 square footneurophysiology and histology laboratory devoted to neural trauma and pain research. It has been in existence since 1992. The laboratory is directed by Professor John Cavanaugh and specializes in the following research areas:

    • Low back pain studies
    • Whiplash studies
    • Brain and neural trauma

    Funding: The lab has received more than $4 million in funding. Funding agencies include the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation and the Aircast Foundation.

    Awards:The Spine Lab won the 1995 Ann Doner Vaughn Kappa Delta Award, best paper and poster awards at the Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, best paper and best student paper awards at the 2005 Stapp Car Crash Conference, and best student paper at the 2006 Stapp Car Crash Conference.

    Low Back Pain Studies

    The total indirect cost of musculoskeletal disorders is $50-100 billion annually, with $20 billion in workers compensation costs. The low back being the most frequent body part injured in the workplace. The Spine Lab is studying the mechanisms by which nerve roots are irritated by a herniated disc as well as the effect of muscle fatigue on low back injury. We are investigating alternative treatment strategies to treat these injuries.

    Whiplash Studies

    The prevalence of chronic neck pain is approximately 14 percent. In the United States, neck sprains are the most serious injuries reported by 40 percent of insurance claimants. The Spine Lab is studying the effect of strain and strain rate in facet joints on the discharge of pain fibers and other neurons in these joints. We are also investigating the response of the muscles to facet strain and how this may lead to muscle spasm.

    Brain Injury and Neural Trauma

    In the United States, an estimated 50,000-75,000 deaths are caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI) annually, with another 6 million individuals suffering neurobehavioral sequelae and functional loss. Significant efforts are underway to understand the mechanisms of TBI to prevent such injury.

    Our lab is studying the ability of newer MRI imaging modalities such as Diffusion Tensor Imaging to diagnose diffuse axonal injury (DAI) in the brain. DAI is a common injury in patients suffering severe TBI but is also very difficult to diagnose. We are also working with our finite element modeling group to study the effect of stress and strain in brain white matter on DAI. We have already characterized the effects of stress and strain on nerve conduction and axonal injury in spinal nerves.

    Research Personnel

    BME faculty members associated with this research field:


    Histology equipment includes Wild‑Leitz microscope, Leica MZ8 Stereomicroscope with SPOT digital camera, Reichert-Jung rotary microtome, Reichert Jung ultracut microtome, Leica CM3050-Cryostat. Neurophysiology equipment includes storage oscilloscopes, two seven channel analog data recorders, AM Systems preamplifiers, two 16 channel, 12 bit A/D converters with chart recorder, histogram, and spike discrimination software, BIOPAC MP-30, and Bortec customized 16-channel amplifier for EMG recording. Materials testing equipment includes Parker-Hannifin actuator, 3200 ELF Endura-TEC materials testing machine and high speed digital video cameras.

  • Sports injury biomechanics

    Sports Injury Biomechanics Lab

    Established within the Wayne State University Bioengineering Center, the Sports Injury Biomechanics Lab is a state-of-the-art facility capable of evaluating all types of athletic personal protective equipment. The lab contains a Biokinetics linear impactor, NOCSAE drop stands, and a pneumatic air cannon. It has data acquisition capabilities including collecting over 130 channels of data per impact, high-speed video cameras for 3-D motional analysis, and an array of anthropometric test dummies with full instrumentation.

    The test equipment provides a means to reproduce real-world sports impacts in a lab environment. These facilities are typically utilized to test prototype protective sports equipment and have been used to test protective equipment for baseball, softball, hockey, football, polo, lacrosse, soccer, and boxing. In addition to prototype testing, the Sports Injury Biomechanics Lab is responsible for certifying boxing gloves and headgear for USA Boxing.

    Completed research

    Biomechanical Analysis of MTBI Associated with Football
    Doctoral Student: Matthew Craig
    Principal Investigator: Cynthia Bir, PhD
    Funded by the National Football League Charities

    Evaluation of the Cumulative Concussive Effect of Heading in Youth Soccer
    Doctoral Student: Erin Hanlon
    Advisor: Cynthia Bir, PhD

    The Biomechanics of Wakeboarding
    Doctoral Student: Christopher Wybo
    Advisor: Cynthia Bir, PhD

    Evaluation of Acceleration Techniques for Measuring Head Impact Biomechanics
    Thesis Student: Matthew McCann
    Principal Investigator: Cynthia Bir, PhD
    Funded by the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory and USA Boxing

    Correlation Between Punch Dynamics and Risk of Injury: Biomedical Analysis of a Boxer's Punch
    Principal Investigator: Cynthia Bir, PhD
    Funded by USA Boxing

    Assessment of MTBI in Female Boxers
    Principal Investigator: Marianne Wilhelm, PhD
    Co-Investigator: Cynthia Bir, PhD
    Funded by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment

    Biomechanical Response of the Temporomandibular Joint from Impacts in Boxing
    Doctoral Student: Timothy Walilko
    Advisor: Cynthia Bir, PhD

    Remote Computerized Injury Surveillance System
    Principal Investigator: Cynthia Bir, PhD
    Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


    Liying Zhang

  • Targeted drug delivery

    Targeted drug delivery can be achieved by physical, biological, or molecular systems that result in high concentrations of the pharmacologically active agent at the pathophysiologically relevant site. If successful, the result of the targeting would be a significant reduction in drug toxicity, reduction of the drug dose, and increased treatment efficacy. Nanodevices represent a superior carrier platform for targeted drug delivery. Targeted delivery via selective cellular markers can potentially increase the efficacy and reduce the toxicity of therapeutic agents.

    BME faculty members associated with research field:

  • Tissue engineering

    Tissue engineering is a multidisciplinary field that entails the application of engineering principles, biological knowledge and materials technology to the study and manipulation of living cells. This effort aims to achieve either repair or regeneration of damaged or diseased tissue or the reconstitution of tissue function ex vivo. The design and evaluation of biologically active materials is an integral component of this work. In the Tissue Engineering Laboratory, work is being conducted on liver regeneration systems, small and large diameter blood vessels, peripheral nerve conduits, and adult stem cell expansion technologies. In the area of biologically active materials, the laboratory has particular expertise in the design and application of bioactive polysaccharides as the structural components of engineered tissue systems.