5200 N Lake Rd, Merced, CA 95343

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Spring 2022 Bioengineering Seminar Series


"Microbes in Biomechanics"
Dr. Christopher J. Hernandez
Professor, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University
Adjunct Scientist, Hospital for Special Surgery


Faculty Host: Dr. Joel Spencer



In orthopaedics, microbes are considered a major threat to the patient health and the success of orthopaedic surgery. However, findings over the past decade have demonstrated that commensal microbes – those that reside in the body naturally, play a major role in human health. The microbiome consists of the microbial organisms that colonize the human body, the vast majority of which occupy the gut. Here I provide an introduction to the microbiome for biomedical engineers and discuss the state of the art in the field of the microbiome research. I show recent work from my group demonstrating an effect of the gut microbiome on the mechanical properties of bone tissue, both in a beneficial as well as detrimental manner. 
Additionally, I introduce a new line of investigation in my laboratory that extends the field of cell biomechanics into prokaryotic organisms. Bacteria are the workhorses of biotechnology and the merging field of synthetic biology. Here we use a novel microfluidic platform with nanoscale features to capture and mechanically load individual bacteria. We examine determine the physiologic responses to mechanical stress and strain. Our findings demonstrate that bacteria, like mammalian cells, have mechanosensitive systems that influences fundamental processes for the resistance of toxins and antibiotics.


Speaker Bio:

Dr. Hernandez is a Professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University and is an Adjunct Scientist at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Dr. Hernandez is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). He is the 2018 recipient of the Fuller Albright Award for Scientific Excellence from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Orthopaedic Research Society and is currently serving as Councilor to the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. In 2021 he was awarded “Educator of the Year” by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. His laboratory’s research currently focuses on the effects of the microbiome on bone and joint disorders, periprosthetic joint infection and the biomechanics and mechanobiology of infectious bacteria.

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