We attempt to understand fundamental relationships between function and structure in living tissues, “engineered” tissue constructs, and tissue analogs. Specifically, we are interested in how microstructure, hierarchical organization, composition, and material properties of tissue affect its biological function and dysfunction. We investigate biological and physical model systems at different time and length scales, making physical measurements in tandem with the development of mathematical and computational models. Primarily, we use water molecules to probe both equilibrium and dynamic interactions among tissue constituents over a wide range of time and length scales. To determine the equilibrium osmo-mechanical properties of well-defined model systems, we vary water content or ionic composition. To probe tissue structure and dynamics, we employ atomic force microscopy (AFM), small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), static light scattering (SLS), dynamic light scattering (DLS), and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) relaxometry. We develop and use mathematical models to help us understand how observed changes in tissue microstructure and physical properties (e.g., mass, charge, and momentum) affect essential transport processes. The most direct noninvasive in vivo method for characterizing these transport processes in tissues is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which we use to follow microstructural changes in development, degeneration, aging, and trauma. A goal of our basic tissue sciences research is to translate our quantitative methodologies and the understanding we glean from them from "bench to bedside."
- Dr. Ruiliang Bai receives the Young Investigator Award at the Overseas Chinese Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine
- Dr. Dan Benjamini receives the 2016 Giulio Cesare Borgia Prize at MRPM13