Prof. David Pierce Wins 3 New Grants
Assistant Professor David Pierce will be deploying his Interdisciplinary Mechanics Laboratory to tackle three projects that just received funding: two from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and one from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC).
The first NSF-funded project (titled Biomechanical Simulations of Progressing Osteoarthritis to Advance Understanding and Therapies) explores how stress distributions within human cartilage tissue affect the progression of osteoarthritis (OA). As Principle Investigator (PI), Prof. Pierce will collaborate with Co-PI Prof. Cory Neu (CU Boulder). Their team will use mechanical and imaging experiments, simulations of virtual evolving in vivo human cartilage, and longitudinal Magnetic Resonance Images (MRIs) from the NIH-funded Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) database to characterize how intra-tissue stress distributions relate to progressing OA.
The second NSF-funded project (titled Understanding the Multiscale Mechanics of Nerve Endings to Address Visceral Pain) investigates the biomechanics of colorectal tissue and the micromechanical environment of the tissue’s sensory nerve endings. As Co-PI, Prof. Pierce will collaborate with the project’s PI, fellow UConn Professor Bin Feng. In colorectal tissue, mechanical stretch (distention) results in visceral pain, the signal for which arises in the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Most drug treatments of visceral pain affect both peripheral and central nervous systems (CNS) and result in adverse side effects on the CNS. Advanced understanding of the biomechanics of visceral nerves could lead to more specific and effective therapeutic targets.
Finally, as PI for the NSRDEC-funded project (titled Developing Biofidelic Models as Surrogates for Human Subjects in Protective Clothing and Individual Equipment and Augmentation Testing) Prof. Pierce and his group, in collaboration with NSRDEC, aim to create subject-specific multiscale models of knee joints and cartilage to predict performance of Soldiers carrying various loads. The products of this research will clarify how Soldier-specific loads translate to soft tissues in the joint and how cyclic fatigue under body-borne loads impacts joint health to optimize physical performance and reduce the risk of injury.
For more information about Prof. Pierce’s research, see his Interdisciplinary Mechanics Laboratory website.