SNP meeting/IMA PI conference

Constitutive Properties of Biomaterials


University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA

September 19 - 21, 2008



David Swigon ( )

Anna Vainchtein ( )

Department of Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh



National Science Foundation

Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, University of Minnesota

Society for Natural Philosophy

Department of Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh


Meeting Location:

Frick Fine Arts Building, University of Pittsburgh


Scientific Program:

Mechanics plays an important function in biology at every length scale. On the molecular level, mechanical properties of DNA play an essential role in gene regulation, recombination, and duplication, while protein and RNA deformability influences many biological processes. The mechanics of membranes, microtubules, and filaments is key to the healthy life of a cell. On cellular level, the cytoskeleton remodeling is a vital function of living cells, and variation of mechanical response in the cells is used to detect cell dysfunction. Cell mobility is an essential mechanical component of wound healing mechanisms. At the tissue level, the failures in the response of tissues to stress are at the core of many injuries and diseases, such as bone fractures, aneurysms, etc.

Although continuum biomechanics has already contributed to understanding of human health, diseases, injuries, and their treatment, it has not yet become an integral part of health care delivery. The difficulty stems from the complexity of cell microstructure and organic nature of living materials, which require new theoretical framework for design and interpretation of new classes of experiments. Behavior of biomaterials results from interactions of constituents on multiple length and time scales which cannot be treated by theories developed with traditional materials in mind. In addition, biomaterials have complex geometries and loading conditions that require new computational approaches to solve problems of scientific, industrial and clinical importance. Biomaterials have a complex molecular nature and undergo large deformations which requires the use of nonlinear theories to describe their mechanical behavior. Additional complications stem from the growth, aging, and remodeling capability of living materials that change constitutive properties over time. Approaches have been made both by generalizing classical theory of elasticity and by deriving average properties of structured materials from microscopic and molecular level considerations.

The goal of the meeting is to facilitate interaction between experts in experimental study of biomaterials on one hand and mathematical modeling and nonlinear continuum mechanics on the other. This interaction will promote the exchange of ideas while enabling new interdisciplinary collaborations that will advance understanding of the role of mechanics in biology. Particular emphasis will be placed on characterizing the response of biomaterials at the continuum level within the framework of finite elasticity and related theories, and the development of new theories of mechanics of living matter accounting for growth, aging, and adaptation.

Invited Speakers:

Davide Ambrosi, (Politecnico di Torino)

Bernard Coleman, (Rutgers University)

Stephen Cowin, (City College of NY)

John Criscione, (Texas A&M)

Larry Taber, (Washington University)



September 19, Friday

2:20 - 3:00pm



3:00 - 3:10pm

Welcoming address


3:10 - 4:10pm

Bernard Coleman (Rutgers)

On the often overlooked importance of charge condensation in cell biology

4:10 - 4:30pm

Coffee break


4:30 - 5:00pm

Shaun Sellers (Washington U)

Plasticity-like models for growth

5:00 - 5:30pm

Thomas Pence (Michigan State)

Simple mechanics for treating swelling in fiber reinforced hyperelastic materials

5:30 - 7:00pm

Frick Fine Arts Building


September 20, Saturday

8:30 - 9:00am



9:00 - 10:00am

Steven Cowin (CUNY)

On the modeling of biological growth

10:00 - 10:20am

Coffee break


10:20 - 11:20am

Larry Taber (Washington U)

On a Fundamental Principle for Morphomechanics

11:20 - 11:40am

Coffee break


11:40 - 12:10pm

Dirk Hartmann (U of Heidelberg)

Multiscale Techniques for Biomaterials


12:10 - 12:40pm

James Wang (U of Pittsburgh)

Experimental Cell Mechanobiology: The Need for Theoretical Modeling


12:40 - 2:00pm



2:00 - 3:10pm

Roger Fosdick (U of Minnesota)


Continuum Thermodynamics from the Prespective of Invariance

3:10 - 3:30pm

Coffee break


3:30 - 4:00pm

Tim Healey (Cornell)

Continuum Shell Models for Two-Phase Lipid Bi-layer Membrane Vesicles


4:00 - 4:30pm

Ashutosh Agrawal (UC Berkeley)

Modeling biomembranes with bending elasticity


4:30 - 5:30pm

Future directions discussion


6:30 - 9:30pm


(Holiday Inn, Oakland Room)


9:30pm - 10:30pm

SNP Business Meeting

(Thackeray Hall 704)


September 21, Sunday

9:00 - 10:00am

John Criscione (Texas A&M)

Failures and Future Directions of Phenomenological Relations for Biological Tissues


10:00 - 10:20am

Coffee break


10:20 - 11:20am

Davide Ambrosi (Politecnico di Torino)

The insight of mixture theory for the growth and remodelling of soft biological tissues


11:20 - 11:40am

Coffee break


11:40 - 12:10pm

Yongcheng Zhou (UCSD)

Continuum Modeling of Electrostatic Induced Macromolecular Deformation

12:10 - 12:40pm

Kai-Bin Fu (Texas A&M)

The modeling of retinal ganglion cell (RGC)

axons and its convexity properties


12:40 - 12:50pm

Closing remarks





The registration fee for SNP non-members is $25, which also provides a one year membership with the Society for Natural Philosophy.  This fee is waived for students. For participants attending the banquet an additional fee of $50 will be charged to help cover the costs. All prospective participants (especially if they plan to attend the banquet) are urged to notify Professor David Swigon(


Travel Support:

Faculty members, students, and employees of IMA Participating Institutions are eligible to apply for travel support from the IMA PI funds of their home institution. Those interested should direct enquiries to IMA directly or to the IMA representative of their home institution.


Blocks of rooms has been reserved at:
Wyndham Pittsburgh University Place Hotel, 3454 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, tel: 412-683-2040 for $139 a night, and
Quality Inn University Center, 3401 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, tel: 412-683-6100 or 800-245-4444 for $89 a night (reservations must be made over the phone using the group name SNP meeting)

In both hotels, rooms must be reserved by August 19, 2008 to take advantage of the reduced rates.



Public transportation provides a convenient way to reach both hotels from the airport. The Airport Flyer 28X departs every 25-30 minutes from Lower level (baggage claim) door 6, the trip to Oakland Campus takes 50 mins. The bus runs along the Fifth Ave. More information can be found here.



Parking meters can be found on Schenley Drive outside the Frick Fine Arts Building. A more economical way is to park at Soldiers and Sailors underground parking garage, next to Thackeray Hall (see below).  U Pitt parking map can be found here. 


The locations of the hotels and the Frick Fine Arts Building (meeting location) are shown on the map of Oakland Campus of the University of Pittsburgh; all are within walking distance from each other.



Ashutosh Agrawal, Mechanical Engineering, UC Berkeley

Davide Ambrosi, Politecnico di Torino

Julia Arciero, Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh

Gang Bao, Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Tech and Emory

Don Carlson, Mechanical Science and Engineering, UIUC

Yi-chao Chen, Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston

Bernard Coleman, Mechanics, Rutgers University

Stephen Cowin, Mechanical Engineering, CUNY

John Criscione, Biomedical Engineering, TAMU

Luca Deseri, Mechanical and Structural Engineering, University of Trento

Yekaterina Epshteyn, Mathematics, CMU

Emre Essenturk, Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh

Roger Fosdick, Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, University of Minnesota

Kaibin Fu, Mathematics, TAMU

Dirk Hartmann, University of Heidelberg

Tim Healey, Mathematics, Cornell University

Michel Jabbour, Mathematics, University of Kentucky

David Kinderlehrer, Mathematics, CMU

Martha Lewicka, Mathematics, University of Minnesota

Gearoid Mac Sithigh, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Missouri-Rolla

Ivan Maly, Deparment of Computational Biology, University of Pittsburgh

Chi-Sing Man, Mathematics, University of Kentucky

Darren Mason, Mathematics & Computer Science, Albion Cllege

Mehrdad Massoudi, US Department of Energy

Walter Noll, Mathematics, CMU

David Owen, Mathematics, CMU

Bob Pego, Mathematics, CMU

Thomas Pence, Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University

Anne Robertson, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Pittsburgh

Brian Seguin, Mathematics, CMU

Shaun Sellers, Mechanical, Aerospace & Structural Engineering, Washington University

Daniel Smith, Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh

Daniel Spector, Mathematics, CMU

Scott Spector, Mathematics, Southern Illinois University

Allan Struthers, Mathematics, Michigan Technological University

David Swigon, Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh

Larry Taber, Biomedical Engineering, Washington University

Kazumi Tanuma, Mathematics, Gunma University

Anna Vainchtein, Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh

Noel Walkington, Mathematics, CMU

James Wang, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Pittsburgh

William Williams, Mathematics, Brown University

Ivan Yotov, Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh

Yongcheng Zhou, Mathematics, Colorado State University