Laboratory of Functional Tissue Engineering

Overview: Laboratory of Functional Tissue Engineering

Our laboratory is focused on the development of novel solutions to treat young active patients with chondral or meniscal defects early in the course of the problem, thus delaying the need for a total joint replacement.

To enhance the development process, we are designing a suite of pre-clinical tests to elucidate the effect of:

  • Soft tissue injury and repair on knee joint function
  • Scaffold design (mechanical properties, morphology) on the response of included cells

The tests are intended to allow us optimize the ability of soft tissue substitutes to support cellular migration and matrix generation, while maintaining an ability to carry and distribute joint load. The ability to iteratively assess the effect of scaffold/substitute design changes on the functional performance of substitutes in vitro is intended to facilitate the rapid transition of functional implants to clinical use.

Areas of Research

Together with an inter-disciplinary team, we use a combination of experimental, computational, and statistical models to:

  1. Understand the effect of meniscal and cartilage injury and current surgical treatments on the loads distributed across human knees during every-day activities;
  2. Develop and optimize polymeric scaffolds so that they can mechanically function similarly to the tissue that they are intended to replace;
  3. Explore mechanisms to help foster functional implant-tissue integration;
  4. Investigate the interaction of scaffold variables and mechanical stimulation in directing cell response.

Laboratory Personnel

Our laboratory consists of mechanical engineers, biologists, chemical engineers and orthopaedic surgeons from the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service.  We have multidisciplinary collaborations with statisticians, and computational engineers which enable us to combine state-of-the-art cadaveric, computational, statistical, tissue explant and patient-based models.


Suzanne Maher, PhD, Associate Scientist & Laboratory Director
Russell Warren, MD, Senior Surgeon

Research Associate
Tony Chen, PhD - University of Rochester

Hongqiang Guo, PhD - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Postdoctoral Fellows
Patrick Donnelly, PhD - Princeton University
Kirsty Culley, PhD - University of East Anglia

Research Engineer
Caroline Brial, M. Eng - Cornell University


Full Time
Supansa Yodmuang, PhD, Assistant Scientist, University of Thailand
Hongsheng Wang, PhD, Hardware Engineer, Google Wearable Technologies
Kenneth W Ng, PhD, Assistant Medical Director for Health Science Communications
Aliza Allon, PhD, Manager, Global Vaccines Team at Clinton Health Access Initiative
Horng-Chaung Hsu, M.D., Professor and Chairman Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
Cathal Moran, Professor of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine; Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Sports Surgery Clinic, Ireland
Florian Wanivenhaus, Balgrist University Hospital, Department of Orthopaedics, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Devon Charlton, MD, Medical Resident, Danbury Hospital

Part Time
Aaron Krych, MD –The Mayo Clinic
Saddiq El-Amin, MD PhD - Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
Asheesh Bedi MD - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Sommer Hammoud MD - Rothman Institute Orthopaedics
John Anderson, MD - Rothman Institute Orthopaedics
Steven Thornton, MD - Texas Orthopaedic Associates
Moira McCarthy, MD -  Hospital for Special Surgery
Robert Brophy, MD - Washington University Physicians
Ian Hutchinson, MD - Hospital for Special Surgery

Internal Collaborations (HSS)

Scott Rodeo, MD
Timothy Wright, PhD
Matt Koff, PhD
Hollis Potter, MD
Peter Torzilli, PhD

External partnerships

Amy Lerner, PhD - University of Rochester
Tom Santner, PhD - The Ohio State University
Erin Leatherman, PhD - University of West Virginia
Markus Wimmer, PhD - Rush University
Susan Chubinskaya, PhD - Rush University

Recent Publications

  • Bedi A, Chen T, Santner TJ, El-Amin S, Kelly NH, Warren RF, Maher SA. Changes in dynamic medial tibiofemoral contact mechanics and kinematics after injury of the anterior cruciate ligament: a cadaveric model. Proc Inst Mech Eng H. 2013 Sep;227(9):1027-37.
  • Wang H, Chen T, Torzilli P, Warren R, Maher S. Dynamic contact stress patterns on the tibial plateaus during simulated gait: a novel application of normalized cross correlation. J Biomech. 2014 Jan 22;47(2):568-74.
  • McCarthy M, Maher SA, Bedi A, Warren R: Editorial, How can practitioners decide when to reconstruct a torn ACL? Clinical Practice, January 2014, Volume 11, Number 1.
  • Guo H, Maher SA, Torzilli PA. A biphasic multiscale study of the mechanical microenvironment of chondrocytes within articular cartilage under unconfined compression. J Biomech. 2014 May 10
  • Wang H, Chen T, Koff MF, Hutchinson ID, Gilbert S, Choi D, Warren RF, Rodeo SA, Maher SA. Image based weighted center of proximity versus directly measured knee contact location during simulated gait. J Biomech. 2014 Apr 16
  • Wang H, Gee AO, Hutchinson ID, Stoner K, Warren RF, Chen TO, Maher SA. Bone Plug Versus Suture-Only Fixation of Meniscal Grafts: Effect on Joint Contact Mechanics During Simulated Gait. Am J Sports Med. 2014 Apr 28. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Leatherman ER, Guo H, Gilbert SL, Hutchinson ID, Maher SA, Santner TJ. Using a statistically calibrated biphasic finite element model of the human knee joint to identify robust designs for a meniscal substitute. J Biomech Eng. 2014 Jul 1;136(7).
  • Guo H, Maher SA, Torzilli PA. J Biomech. A biphasic multiscale study of the mechanical microenvironment of chondrocytes within articular cartilage under unconfined compression. 2014 Aug 22;47(11):2721-9.
  • Donahue TL, Fisher MB, Maher SA. Meniscus mechanics and mechanobiology. J Biomech. 2015 Jun 1;48(8):1341-2.
  • Waldstein W, Perino G, Gilbert SL, Maher SA, Windhager R, Boettner F. OARSI osteoarthritis cartilage histopathology assessment system: A biomechanical evaluation in the human knee. J Orthop Res. 2015 Aug 6. doi: 10.1002/jor.23010. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Wang H, Chen T, Gee AO, Hutchinson ID, Stoner K, Warren RF, Rodeo SA, Maher SA. Altered regional loading patterns on articular cartilage following meniscectomy are not fully restored by autograft meniscal transplantation. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2015 Mar;23(3):462-8.
  • Guo H, Santner TJ, Chen T, Wang H, Brial C, Gilbert SL, Koff MF, Lerner AL, Maher SA. A statistically-augmented computational platform for evaluating meniscal function. J Biomech. 2015 Jun 1;48(8):1444-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2015.02.031. Epub 2015 Feb 26.
  • Guo H, Maher SA, Torzilli PA. A biphasic finite element study on the role of the articular cartilage superficial zone in confined compression. J Biomech. 2015 Jan 2;48(1):166-70.
  • Wang H, Koff MF, Potter HG, Warren RF, Rodeo SA, Maher SA. An MRI-compatible loading device to assess knee joint cartilage deformation: Effect of preloading and inter-test repeatability. J Biomech. 2015 Aug 13

Principal Scientist
Suzanne Maher, PhD