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Suzanne Maher, PhD

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Photo of Dr. Maher

Suzanne Maher, PhD

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Back in the Game Patient Stories

Research Description

Dr. Maher received a BE and MEngSc in Mechanical Engineering from University College Dublin, Ireland. She studied for her PhD in Trinity College Dublin, after which she came to HSS as a post-doctoral fellow. She has been a Scientist at HSS since 2002; which was punctuated by a period of research at the National Institutes of Health in Dr. Rocky Tuan's laboratory.

Her early research focused on the pre-clinical evaluation of materials intended for total joint replacement. More recently, she has used her knowledge about the pre-clinical testing of total joint replacements to develop, test, and optimize solutions for the treatment of soft tissue defects, specifically of the meniscus and articular cartilage. The goal of Dr. Maher’s research is to develop biomaterials for joint restoration that can be used 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 achieve this goal, she and her team have built models to:

  1. Understand how injury affects the mechanics of the knee joint
  2. Assess the ability of scaffolds/ implants to restore pre-injury mechanics to the knee joint
  3. Assess the ability of implants to integrate with the host tissue

The models used include joint-level loading systems, capable of applying physiological loads to knees to mimic every-day activities; tissue-level systems, capable of applying mechanical stimulus to cell-seeded implants and their implant-tissue interfaces; virtual models, capable of modeling the tissue level stresses and strains; and in vivo models that can be used to understand the performance of candidate materials for the repair of soft tissue defects.

Dr. Maher’s team is using the unique platform of preclinical tests to evaluate the functional performance of clinically available scaffolds/ implants; they are also working to optimize the design of in-house developed implants, with a specific focus on non-degradable or partly degradable constructs that can mechanically function much in the way of the native tissue. One such implant for the treatment of cartilage defects is currently at an advanced level of pre-clinical testing, supported in part by the BioAccelerate NYC Program.

Dr. Maher works in multi-disciplinary teams which blend experimental, computational, and statistical models with the clinical expertise of orthopaedic surgeons. As a member of the Department of Biomechanics and the Orthopedic Soft Tissue Research Program at Hospital for Special Surgery, she works closely with faculty from both groups and her research is strongly tied to that of HSS senior Sports Medicine Orthopaedic surgeons Dr. Warren and Dr. Rodeo. Her research team at Hospital for Special Surgery includes post-doctoral students, medical students, residents, fellows, technicians, research engineers, design engineers, and a machinist. Other key collaborators include chemical engineers, cell biologists, radiologists, statisticians, and material scientists from Hospital for Special Surgery, Cornell University, Drexel University, Temple University, Princeton University, Texas A&M, and the Ohio State University.

She is an active member of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and the American Society for Mechanical Engineering (ASME). From 2009 to 2011 she was the ORS liaison to the Biomedical Engineering Committee of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; and she is currently Topic Chair for the ‘Meniscus’ sessions. She is an active participant in the Perry Initiative Outreach Program, which is intended to inspire young women to be leaders in the exciting fields of Orthopaedic Surgery and Engineering.

Laboratory of Cartilage and Meniscus Mechanics


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


Tony Chen, PhD

Research Engineer

Amanda Wach, MS

Research Technicians

Claire Lynch, B.Sc
Ashley Pekmezian, BS

See more about the Laboratory of Cartilage and Meniscus Mechanics.

Clinical Trials

Industry Relationships

One of the goals of HSS is to advance the science of orthopedic surgery, rheumatology, and related disciplines for the benefit of patients. Research staff at HSS may collaborate with outside companies for education, research and medical advances. HSS supports this collaboration in order to foster medical breakthroughs; however, HSS also believes that these collaborations must be disclosed.

As part of the disclosure process, this website lists Research staff collaborations with outside companies if the Research staff member received any payment during the prior year or expects to receive any payment in the next year. The disclosures are based on information provided by the Research staff and other sources and are updated regularly. Current ownership interests and leadership positions are also listed. Further information may be available on individual company websites.

Below are the healthcare industry relationships reported by Dr. Maher as of April 27, 2020.

  • Agelity Biomechanics - Founder

By disclosing the collaborations of HSS Research staff with industry on this website, HSS and its Research staff make this information available to patients and the public, thus creating a transparent environment for those who are interested in this information. Further, the HSS Conflicts of Interest Policy does not permit payment of royalties on products developed by him/her that are used on patients at HSS.

Feel free to ask the Research staff member about their relationship(s).

Selected Publications

Gilbert S, Chen T, Hutchinson ID, Choi D, Voigt C, Warren RF, Maher SA. Dynamic contact mechanics on the tibial plateau of the human knee during activities of daily living. J Biomech. 2013 Nov 16. doi:pii: S0021-9290(13)00555-1. 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.11.003. [Epub ahead of print]

Krych AJ, Wanivenhaus F, Ng KW, Doty S, Warren RF, Maher SA. Matrix generation within a macroporous non-degradable implant for osteochondral defects is not enhanced with partial enzymatic digestion of the surrounding tissue: evaluation in an in vivo rabbit model. J Mater Sci Mater Med. 2013 Oct;24(10):2429-37. doi: 10.1007/s10856-013-4999-x. Epub 2013 Jul 12.

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. doi: 10.1177/0954411913490387. Epub 2013 Jun 26.

Gilbert S, Chen T, Hutchinson ID, Choi D, Voigt C, Warren RF, Maher SA. Dynamic contact mechanics on the tibial plateau of the human knee during activities of daily living. J Biomech. 2013 Nov 16. doi:pii: S0021-9290(13)00555-1. 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.11.003.

For more publications, please see the PubMed listing.


Senior Scientist, Hospital for Special Surgery
Associate Director, Department of Biomechanics
Co-Director, Orthopedic Soft Tissue Research Program
Professor of Applied BioMechanics in Orthopaedic Surgery, Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University
Adjunct Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University