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Advancing the Clinical Assessment of Bone Matrix Quality

Primary Investigators:
Jeffry S. Nyman
Brief Description of Project:
To date, the clinical gold standard to detect whether a patient is at risk for fracture relies on the measurement of bone density using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). However, densitometry measurements do not assess how aging and disease (for example, diabetes) lowers the quality of the bone matrix.

The research project will investigate the potential of several matrix-sensitive technologies for predicting mechanical properties of human bone: 1) Reference Point Indentation (RPI), which indents a patient's tibia, 2) 1H Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) relaxometry, which quantifies porosity and water bound to the matrix and underpins Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and 3) Raman spectroscopy (RS), which probes the physiochemical properties of the bone matrix.

Desired Qualifications:
Skills in MATLAB programming would allow for greater research independence but are easily replaced by a solid work ethic and a willingness to learn. Students involved in this project would learn about human bone biology, fracture mechanics, micro-computed tomography (microCT), NMR relaxometry, Raman spectroscopy, and bone indentation techniques.
Nature of Supervision:
The student will work under the supervision of Dr. Nyman but will receive daily guidance from his lab manager.
A Brief Research Plan (period is for 10 weeks):
The goal for the summer will be to identify determinants of matrix-sensitive properties as determined by NMR, RS, and RPI using cadaveric tissue from donors with and without type 2 diabetes. The student will learn about each phase of the project: preparation of bone samples, evaluations of bone samples using different techniques (microCT, NMR, RPI, RS, among others), mechanical testing of bone samples, and statistical analysis of results.
Number of Open Slots: 1
Contact Information:
Name: Jeffry S. Nyman
Department: Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation