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Colleen Witzenburg
September 8, 2020

Witzenburg lands NSF grant for research on soft tissue failure

Written By: Tom Ziemer


Colleen Witzenburg, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation to support her work quantifying the spatial variance of material properties in soft tissues and predicting points of failure.

The project, supported by a $439,514 grant, will focus specifically on ventricular tissue after a heart attack. Witzenburg and her lab members will develop a mechanics method for determining spatial variance and build an algorithm to predict the location of tissue failures.

Though Witzenburg’s research focuses on cardiovascular tissue, she says the techniques and tools used in this project could apply to many different types of tissue and conditions.

“Unlike manmade materials, soft tissues can respond to changes in loading. Cells remodel their surrounding matrix proteins, altering the regional strength and stiffness of the tissue,” says Witzenburg. “Unfortunately, disease and injury can produce remodeling that is insufficient or even pathologic, putting the tissue at risk of tearing and rupture. This award supports fundamental research needed to develop, test and validate methods to quantify spatial variation and to predict tissue failure.”