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Personal profile

Research interests

My mission: Musculoskeletal tissues developed remarkable mechanical properties through evolution. Understanding not only their reversible but also their outstanding irreversible properties is of major interest for human skeletal health and may allow tailoring bio-synthetic materials that follow the same micromechanical design and synthesis principles. Towards the latter idea, they represent attractive structural materials for high-end technological applications as well but with major advantages. Unlike man-made materials they are created in an energy efficient way and made of abundantly available constituents.

To decipher the irreversible behaviour of m
usculoskeletal tissues and mineralised tissues in particular, combined experimental, imaging, and computational approaches are pursued. The identified quantitative structure-mechanics relationships describing the behaviour of the fundamental building blocks are key to understand the mechanical design principles. This knowledge, in turn, is the basis to tailor bio-synthetic materials that follow the same design and synthesis principles as their natural antetype.

My current research is motivated
by the
serious personal, social, and economic burdens constituted by musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis constitute. Osteoporosis affects 200 million women and causes 9 million fractures annually worldwide. Hip fracture incidence alone is projected to increase 240 % in women and 310 % in men by 2050. At the same time Europe will face associated costs of approximately e77 billion per year while in China over 500 million inhabitants are expected to suffer from osteoporosis (http://www.iofbonehealth.org). Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent chronic joint disease. It progressively deteriorates subchondral bone and articular cartilage and leaves patients immobile with a severely decreased quality of life and an increased mortality. The lifetime risk of developing osteoarthritis in the knee is approximately 40 % and 60 % in normal and obese subjects. Approximately 9.6 % of men and 18 % women over the age of 60 are suffering from osteoarthritis world-wide (http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org). Osteoporotic conditions develop in subchondral bone of affected joints in the later stage of the disease.

Life expectancy continues to rise but patient specific treatment solutions to optimally manage those patients are sill not available. Such solutions could consist of a tailored medication strategies and, at a later stage, tailored implant solutions. The unavailability of the latter is due to the fact that the irreversible mechanical behaviour of bone–especially at the level of the extra-cellular matrix (ECM)–is not fully understood. Consequently, understanding this behaviour could form the basis to engineer patient specific treatment solutions



I joined the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences at Heriot-Watt University as an Assistant Professor in August 2015.

Before this I did a postdoc at the Institute for Surgical Technology and Biomechanics in Bern, Switzerland where I managed the renovation and set-up of a biomechanics laboratory. My research during this time focussed on the relevance of anisotropic damage in the fracture risk of the hip.

In 2011, I finished my PhD at the Institute for Orthopaedic Research and Biomechanics in Ulm, Germany, where I worked on the mechanical multiscale characterisation of vertebral trabecular bone for the prediction of vertebral fracture risk. During my PhD in 2008/09, I was a guest researcher at the Institute of Lightweight Design and Structural Biomechanics at Vienna University of Technology, Austria, to perform microsocpic and macroscopic experiments. Just after starting my PhD in 2006, I was a guest researcher at the Institute for Numerical Simulation of Bonn University, Germany, within a collaboration to validate a novel finite element code that could be of use for porous media such as bone.

In 2005, I graduated as Diplom Ingenieur, a former German equivalent to the Master of Science, in Mechanical Engineering at Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany, with an anatomy-based kinematic model of the hindlimb of the rat to compute muscle forces during gait.

My work was published in over 30 peer reviewed articles as first, last (PI), or co-author in top journals of my research area such as Bone, Journal of the Mechanical Behaviour of Biomedical Materials, or Nature Materials see

  • http://scholar.google.ch/citations?user=VHn8uAkAAAAJ or
  • http://www.researcherid.com/rid/C-7454-2011.

Furthermore, I contributed to over 50 conferences including invited talks and lectures, e.g., World Congress of Biomechanics 2014 and European Calcified Tissue Society 2016.



  • TJ Mechanical engineering and machinery
  • Tissue Biomechanics
  • Materials Science
  • Experimental Mechanics
  • Computational Mechanics
  • Image Processing

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

Bone Engineering & Materials Science
Bone and Bones Medicine & Life Sciences
Tissue Engineering & Materials Science
Porosity Medicine & Life Sciences
Spine Medicine & Life Sciences
Zygapophyseal Joint Medicine & Life Sciences
Bone Matrix Medicine & Life Sciences
Stiffness Engineering & Materials Science

Co Author Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2006 2019

Compressive behaviour of uniaxially aligned individual mineralised collagen fibres at the micro- and nanoscale

Groetsch, A., Gourrier, A., Schwiedrzik, J., Sztucki, M., Beck, R. J., Shephard, J. D., Michler, J., Zysset, P. K. & Wolfram, U., 15 Apr 2019, In : Acta Biomaterialia. 89, p. 313-329 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Mineral Fibers

“Peroperative Estimation of Bone Quality and Primary Dental Implant Stability”

Voumard, B., Maquer, G., Heuberger, P., Zysset, P. K. & Wolfram, U., Apr 2019, In : Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials. 92, p. 24-32 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Dental prostheses

Comparative analysis of bone structural parameters reveals subchondral cortical plate resorption and increased trabecular bone remodeling in human facet joint osteoarthritis

Netzer, C., Distel, P., Wolfram, U., Deyhle, H., Jost, G. F., Schären, S. & Geurts, J., 14 Mar 2018, In : International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 19, 3, 845.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Zygapophyseal Joint
Bone Remodeling
Cerebral Cortex

Registration of phase contrast images in propagation-based X-ray phase tomography

Weber, L., Hänsch, A., Wolfram, U., Pacureanu, A., Cloetens, P., Peyrin, F., Rit, S. & Langer, M., Jan 2018, In : Journal of Microscopy. 269, 1, p. 36–47 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
phase contrast
x rays

Age and porosity significantly affect fracture thoughness of cortical bone in transverse crack-growth.

Collins, C. J., Wolfram, U., Zysset, P. K. & Thurner, P. J., 2017.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper