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Biomedical Engineering Research

Darryl Thelen and Jack Martin watching student running on treadmill


Biomechanics applies engineering mechanics for understanding biological processes and for solving medical problems at systemic, organ, tissue, cellular and molecular levels. Research efforts in biomechanics include the mechanics of connective tissues (ligament, tendon, cartilage, and bone), as well as orthopedic devices (fracture fixation hardware and joint prostheses), vascular remodeling (normal and pathological mechanics of pulmonary hypertension), muscle mechanics with injury and healing, human motor control, neuromuscular adaptation (with age, injury, and disease), microfluidics for cellular and subcellular applications, cellular motility and adhesion.

Biomedical engineers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison use biomechanics for applications as diverse as studying the fundamental viscoelastic behavior of connective tissues preventing repetitive motion disorders in manual work, and understanding and preventing mechanical compromise in tissues in response to healing, changes in loading (from exercise, bed rest, etc.), aging, disease and biochemical factors.


Core faculty

Faculty affiliates

Centers, Consortia and Institutes

Cardiovascular Research Center

An innovative program, the UW Cardiovascular Research Center works to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease in Wisconsin and the nation and develop effective approaches to treating cardiovascular disorders and disease. Faculty from over 30 specialties collaborate in a broad attack on cardiovascular problems through basic research, clinical investigation, diagnosis, treatment, and public education. Working together, physicians and researchers combine their unique perspectives, sparking fresh ideas and reducing the time it takes to bring new discoveries out of laboratories and to patients

Forward BIO Institute

The Forward BIO Institute catalyzes innovation in biomanufacturing research, entrepreneurship, and workforce development. It acts as a “catapult” that pushes groundbreaking technologies into the private sector.

The institute engages with research institutions throughout the Midwest and supports innovations in workforce development, transformative research and development, and public-private partnerships in the emerging area of biomanufacturing: the advanced manufacturing of therapeutic medical devices, cells, tissues, or pharmaceuticals.

University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center (UWCCC)

The University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center is recognized throughout the nation as one of the leading innovators in cancer research, quality patient care, and active community involvement. It is the only comprehensive cancer center in Wisconsin, as designated by the National Cancer Institute.

UWCCC’s location in the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR) allows researchers to work with scientists from other disciplines, speeding the transfer of cutting-edge science to patients.

Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR)

The Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research has embraced a new way of doing science since its opening in 2008. In this new model, traditional research silos become obsolete as basic, translational, and clinical scientists—in cancer, imaging, neuroscience, surgery, and cardiovascular and regenerative medicine—work together to move discoveries quickly from bench to bedside and into the community.

In addition to its three interdisciplinary research towers, WIMR neighbors the UW Health Sciences Learning Center, the UW Schools of Pharmacy and Nursing, and the UW Hospital and Clinics and American Family Children’s Hospital—making it well-positioned for easy interactions between WIMR scientists, their health sciences colleagues, practicing clinicians, and the patients whose lives they hope to improve.