The aim of the Summer School is to present a state-of-the-art introduction and overview of biomechanical and mechanobiological modeling at different length scales, with an emphasis on soft biological tissue. The lectures will discuss biomolecules and networks, the cytoskeleton and cells as well as macroscopic continuum models for soft tissues, including arteries, the heart, eyes and the brain.
The mechanics of the whole cell and sub-cellular components will be discussed with particular emphasis on endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells and their mechanochemical activation. This links to the discussion of growth and remodeling, which builds on the constituents of soft tissue, including smooth muscle, elastin and collagen. Applications of growth and remodeling that are considered include the response of arteries to hypertension and the analysis of mechanopathological changes such as aortic and cerebral aneurysm formation.
Experimental approaches for determining the mechanobiological properties of aneurismal tissue will be discussed along with diffusion and mass transport through the tissue. The discussion of arteries is underpinned by a detailed review of the fundamental structure of the arterial wall and related constitutive modeling, including the important effect of residual stresses. Models for cells and soft tissues are presented with particular reference to the collagen fiber structure. In addition, the fundamental biomechanics of brain tissues and the eye in health and disease are examined on the basis of experimental data and material and computational models.
Biomechanical modeling of soft tissues requires application of continuum mechanics, and a summary of the key ingredients of this theory is therefore provided. The theory is then used to establish a framework for modeling the elasticity of the tissues and for characterizing their material properties.
Throughout the course the lecturers will point to future directions for research in the different areas of biomechanics and mechanobiology.


The Summer School is addressed to PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in biomedical engineering, (bio)physics, mechanical and civil engineering, applied mathematics, physiology and materials science and more senior scientists and engineers (including some from relevant industries) whose interests are in the area of biomechanics and mechanobiology.

Preliminary Suggested Readings

  • C.P. Brangwynne, G.H. Koenderink, F.C. MacKintosh and D.A. Weitz: Cytoplasmic diffusion: molecular motors mix it up. The Journal of Cell Biology, 183:583-587, 2008. [pdf]
  • C.R. Ethier, M. Johnson and J. Ruberti: Ocular Biomechanics and Biotransport. Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, 6:249-273, 2004. [pdf]
  • P. Janmey and C. Schmidt: Experimental measurements of intracellular mechanics; Chapter 2 in Cytoskeletal Mechanics: Models and Measurements, R.D. Kamm and M.R.K. Mofrad (eds), Cambridge, 2006, pp. 18-49. [pdf]
  • G.A. Holzapfel and R.W. Ogden (eds.): Biomechanical Modeling at the Molecular, Cellular and Tissue Levels, CISM Courses and Lectures No. 508. Springer: Wien, New York, 2009. [link]
  • G.A. Holzapfel and R.W. Ogden: Constitutive modelling of passive myocardium. A structurally-based framework for material characterization. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 367:3445–3475, 2009. [link]
  • J.D. Humphrey: Cardiovascular Solid Mechanics: Cells, Tissues, and Organs. Springer-Verlag, NY, 2002.
  • J.D. Humphrey: Vascular adaptation and mechanical homeostasis at tissue, cellular, and sub-cellular levels. Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, 50: 53-78, 2008.
  • G.R. Joldes, A. Wittek and K. Miller: Suite of finite element algorithms for accurate computation of soft tissue deformation for surgical simulation, Medical Image Analysis, 2009. [pdf]
  • F.C. MacKintosh: Polymer-based models of cytoskeletal networks; Chapter 8 in Cytoskeletal Mechanics: Models and Measurements, R.D. Kamm and M.R.K. Mofrad (eds), Cambridge, 2006, pp. 152-169. [link]
  • K. Miller, A. Wittek, G. Joldes, A. Horton, T. Dutta Roy, J. Berger and L. Morriss: Modelling brain deformations for computer-integrated neurosurgery. Communications in Numerical Methods in Engineering, 2009. [pdf]
  • J.S. VanEpps and D.A. Vorp: Mechanopathobiology of Atherogenesis: A Review. Journal of Surgical Research, 142:202-17, 2007. [pdf]
  • D.A. Vorp: Biomechanics of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. Journal of Biomechanics, 40:1887-902, 2007. [pdf]