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Full NameProfessor Laoise McNamara
Organisation:National University of Ireland Galway
- cell and developmental biology/regenerative medicine
- bioengineering/medical devices
Other Research Fields:
Postgrad Medical Specialties
- Sports and Exercise Medicine
- Cardiac Surgery
- Orthopaedic surgery
- Vascular Medicine
Many biological cells are governed by mechanical stimuli arising in their environment, which regulate proliferation, differentiation, gene expression, protein synthesis and cell viability. Professor McNamara’s research group use multidisciplinary research approaches across Engineering and Biology to derive understanding of mechanobiology and how this process contributes to development, physiology and disease. Through these studies they have recently shown that mechanobiological processes play an important role in the aetiology of osteoporosis. Their ongoing research is to seeking to establish the effectiveness of modulating the mechanotransduction response for preventing bone loss and fracture in osteoporosis, with the ultimate goal of developing novel therapeutic approaches for osteoporosis.
Professor McNamara has active research collaborations in medical device design with industry partners (Stryker, Boston Scientific). Through these collaborations her research group are striving to inform the development of medical devices (e.g. Surgical cutting tools – Stryker, Transcatheter Heart Valves – Boston Scientific) by applying their multidisciplinary research approaches (e.g. in vitro cell culture, computational modelling, biomechanical testing) to understand how medical implants alter the biomechanical environment and how these changes alter the normal biology of the tissue/organ into which they are implanted.
Project 1: The role of mechanobiology in bone metastases
Many biological cells are governed by mechanical stimuli arising in their environment, which regulate proliferation, differentiation, gene expression, protein synthesis and cell viability. Mechanobiological factors have been implicated in tumour invasion and metastasis of breast, brain, skin, kidney and prostate tumours. In particular, changes in extracellular matrix stiffness within the primary tumour contributes to growth and metastasis of breast cancer by promoting cell proliferation and transition of tumour cells to migrating cells. However, it is not yet known what role mechanobiology plays in bone metastasis. The specific objective of this PhD research is to uncover the role of mechanobiology in the aetiology of bone metastases. A multidisciplinary approach will be used to (i) characterise the mechanical properties and composition of bone metastases and (ii) delineate whether mechanobiological cues provided by bone tissue encourage tumour cell attachment and invasion.
Project 2: The Effect of Mechanical Stress on Calcium Signalling in Heart Tissue.
Transcatheter Aortic Heart Valve Implantation (TAVI) is a minimally invasive alternative to surgical heart valves in the treatment of aortic stenosis. One of the major complications with the procedure is the interference with the heart conductance system due to the pressure the device is placing on the heart. It is thought that the mechanical stimuli imposed by the device leads to cell necrosis, however, the level of stress that is acceptable is yet unknown. The specific objective of this PhD research is to uncover the role of mechanobiology in the aetiology of conductance block after TAVI implantation. A multidisciplinary approach will be used to (i) conduct in vitro experiments to monitor biochemical signalling of cardiac cells and live heart tissue under normal conditions and (ii) delineate whether mechanobiological changes after TAVI implantation interfere with the normal biochemical signalling.