Multi-scale Computational Modeling Integrates Biology and Mechanics to Provide New Insights into Skeletal Muscle Health and Disease

Register in advance for this meeting: 

Friday, January 29, 2021 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
Silvia Salinas Blemker, Ph.D.


Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering,

Ophthalmology, and Orthopaedic Surgery

University of Virginia


Multi-scale Computational Modeling Integrates Biology and Mechanics to Provide New Insights into Skeletal Muscle Health and Disease


Skeletal muscles are extraordinarily adapted motors that enable us to perform many important functions, from walking to sight to speech. Thus, muscle dysfunction arising from muscle atrophy, degeneration, fatty infiltration, and fibrosis present major health care problems. From a basic science perspective, we have a sophisticated understanding of the fundamental biology and mechanics of skeletal muscle.  However, how these fundamentals relate to in vivo function and whole muscle adaptation is complex and remains poorly understood, which limits the translation of basic biological understanding to the development of effective treatments for muscle dysfunction.  The goal of the Multi-Scale Muscle Mechanophysiology (“M3”) Lab’s research is to develop and experimentally validate multi-scale computational models of skeletal muscle that relate structure, biology, and function across a range of scales. We aim apply these models to answering questions related to the role of complex muscle biology and mechanics in a variety of clinical problems, including muscular dystrophy, disuse-induced atrophy, and volumetric muscle loss injury.  In this presentation, I will describe these approaches and present some recent examples of how computational models of muscle have led to new ideas and insights.


Silvia Salinas Blemker is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering, with joint appointments in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Ophthalmology, and Orthopaedic Surgery, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, USA.  She obtained her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University and her Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.  Before joining the faculty at UVa in 2006, Dr. Blemker worked as a post-doctoral Research Associate at Stanford University’s National Center for Biomedical Computation.  At UVA, she leads the Multi-scale Muscle Mechanophysiology Lab (“M3 Lab”). 

The M3 lab group develops advanced multi-scale computational and experimental techniques to study skeletal muscle biomechanics and physiology, and they are currently applying these techniques to variety of areas, including speech disorders, movement disorders, vision impairments, muscle atrophy, aging, muscular dystrophies, and athletic performance.  While the work is rooted in biomechanics, it strongly draws from many other fields, including biology, muscle physiology, biomedical computation, continuum mechanics, imaging, and a variety of clinical fields.  The M3 lab is enthusiastic to take part in outreach activities, including having active participation of K-12 teachers in the lab and hosting an annual National Biomechanics Day event locally.   The M3 lab’s research has been funded by several institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIAMS, NIBIB, NIA, and NIDCD), NASA, the NSF, the Department of Defense, The Hartwell Foundation, the UVA-Coulter Translational Research Partnership, in addition to industry partnerships.  Dr. Blemker has received a number of scientific recognitions, including induction as a fellow of AIMBE and being awarded the ASB Founders Award in 2019.  She has multiple issued and pending patents, and she is a co-founder of Springbok, Inc, a company focused on image-based muscle analytics for a variety of applications from sports medicine to neuromuscular disorders.