Research in orthopedic biomechanics



Researchers in the Smart Materials and Biomechanics (SMAB) Lab investigate the effects of mechanical loading, drugs, diseases, and implanted devices on the skeleton. Like muscles, bones only stay strong if you use them. Physical exercise can strengthen bones, but factors like obesity, diabetes, and aging may impair the ability of bones to adapt appropriately. The sensitivity of bones to mechanical stimulation is also an important factor in designing effective orthopaedic implants, like spine fusion cages and intramedullary nails. These devices share mechanical loads with the skeleton, so it is important to understand how much force is carried by bones when implants are in place. By understanding how diseases, medications, implants, and exercise affect bone density, structure, and strength, the research being performed in the SMAB Lab can help to develop strategies for improving skeletal health and reducing the risk of injury.


Active Projects:

  1. Development of a porous (poly)paraphenylene spinal fusion cage
  2. Investigating the mechanical effects of bone ingrowth into porous materials
  3. Measuring the effects of impact exercise and non-impact exercise on bone density and strength
  4. Determining the combined effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and exercise on the strength of the femur and lumbar spine
  5. Quantifying changes in the bone lacunar-canilicular system due to aging and kidney disease



Investigations in Metabolism, Aging, Gender and Exercise (IMAGE) Research Group (CU School of Medicine, Anschutz Medical Campus)


Biomechanics and Biomimetics Laboratory (Department of Mechanical Engineering, CU Boulder)


Dana R. Carpenter, PhD

Dana Carpenter, PhD

Associate Professor

Mechanical Engineering

Phone: 303-315-7508



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