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Some microscopic lesions in the intervertebral discs could be explained by chronic nutritional stress

Some microscopic lesions in the intervertebral discs could be explained by chronic nutritional stress

Laura Baumgartner is working on computational biological models under the direction of Jérôme Noailly and Miguel Ángel González Ballester, members of BCN MedTech. She will soon move to the Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich (Switzerland) to complement her theoretical doctoral research with cell cultures.

27.07.2018

Laura Baumgartner is working on her doctoral thesis in the Multiscale Computational Biomechanics and Mechanobiology research area (MBIOMM) under the supervision of researchers Jérôme Noailly and Miguel Ángel González Ballester (ICREA), members of BCN MedTech in the Department of Information and Communication Technologies (DTIC) at UPF.

The field of research of the MBIOMM, led by Jérôme Noailly, focuses on the musculoskeletal system, mainly the interactions between tissue multiphysics and biological processes, and also on how these interactions can affect the functional biomechanics of organs.

Within this area, Baumgartner’s doctoral research focuses on modelling the interaction of chronic nutritional stress and local mechanical loads to describe the paths that lead to the development of micro-traumatisms in the intervertebral discs.

In the last few months she has been awarded three different grants that will allow her to attend various international conferences and also the Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich (ETHZ, Switzerland) for a period of four months to complement her theoretical research with experiments with cell cultures.

This international stage will be possible thanks to the Mobility grant from the European Society of Biomechanics (ESB) regarding her proposal entitled “Computational modelling over multiple scales to simulate microtrauma emergence within the intervertebral disc”, which was announced during the 8th World Congress of Biomechanics held in Dublin (Ireland) with which she will join the Immunoengineering and Regenerative Medicine research group led by professor Karin Wuertz-Kozak.

The results of the research will be used as experimental data and evidence of validation for the computational systems biology model of the intervertebral disc being developed by the researcher at UPF

The aim of this international research stage will be to perform in vitro cell experiments to measure the behaviour of the cells in the intervertebral disc under the influence of biochemical stimuli (oxygen, lactate and glucose) and biomechanical loads (magnitude, amplitude and duration of load). The results of the research will be used as experimental data and evidence of validation for the computational systems biology model of the intervertebral disc being developed by the researcher at UPF.

International outreach programme planned for the coming months

Recently, Laura Baumgartner has been awarded a series of grants to enable her to attend several international conferences to present the progress of her research project.

In June, she won the prize for the best poster at the 3rd summer school of Virtual Physiological Human (VPH Summer School) held from 18 to 22 June at UPF, with the poster: “Combining systems biology and multiphysics computational models to explore the emergence of mechanical microtrauma in the intervertebral disc”, and a prize granted by the Virtual Physiological Human Institute (VPHi), endowed with €1,000 to participate in scientific conferences and workshops between the months of September 2018 and December 2019.

Recently, she has also received the prize awarded by IRCOBI (International Research Council of Biomechanics of Injury), of €630, with which she will attend the IRCOBI congress next September in Athens (Greece), for which Laura Baumgartner has had an oral communication accepted for inclusion in the proceedings.

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