Biomedical Engineering Research Lab


Selected Publications

Osteocytes are the most abundant cell type in bone and are responsible for sensing mechanical stress and signaling bone modeling and remodeling. Dr. Stern has examined the effects of an osteocyte’s micro-environment on its biological signaling response through the use of finite element modeling, shear strain applied via fluid flow, and cellular deformation induced by substrate stretching. Through her research, she has been able to show that the mechanical properties of an osteocyte’s microenvironment determine the amount of strain transmitted to the osteocyte. The stiffer the material immediately surrounding the osteocyte is the more attenuated the strain transmitted to the osteocyte becomes.  If the environment surrounding an osteocyte is less stiff and/or more porous, the strain transmitted to the osteocyte is amplified. These findings are significant because it has been shown that the material properties of the osteocyte’s microenvironment vary within a single bone as well as between individuals, especially in osteoporotic patients and with increasing age.

Dr. Stern’s most recent work centers on the effects of aging on osteocytes and how this, in turn, relates to osteoporosis. Her areas of expertise include finite element modeling, material characterization, and the mechanical stimulation of cells in colonies or at the single-cell level utilizing custom and commercially available bioreactors.

“Correlation of Cell Strain in Single Osteocytes with Intracellular Calcium, but Not Intracellular Nitric Oxide, in Response to Fluid Flow.” Journal of Biomechanics, 43(8) 2010: 1560-1564.

PDF (651 K)

“Tissue Strain Amplification at the Osteocyte Lacuna: A Microstructural Finite Element Analysis.” Journal of Biomechanics, 40(10) 2007: 199-206.

PDF (877 K)

“Isolation and Culture of Primary Osteocytes from the Long Bones of Skeletally Mature and Aged Mice.” BioTechniques, 52 June 2010: 361-373.

PDF (5.7 MB)

“Measurement and Estimation of Osteocyte Mechanical Strain.” Bone, 54 2013: 191–195.

PDF (517 K)

“Dr. Stern’s research bridges the fields of mechanical engineering and molecular/cell biology, while focusing on the mechanotransduction of osteocytes.”