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Tendon Injury: A glitch in the Matrix with Professor Hazel Screen

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Arts Two Lecture Theatre, Mile End Campus

Queen Mary University of London

London

E1 4NS

United Kingdom

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The Inaugural lecture for Professor Hazel Screen. Tendon Injury: A Glitch in the Matrix?

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We all rely on the health of our musculoskeletal tissues for any activity that requires the ability to move. This includes everything from getting out of bed to running a marathon. These remarkable natural materials, which include bone, muscle, cartilage, ligament and tendon, are able to withstand the stresses and strains of everyday life, lasting for a lifetime.

Our musculoskeletal tissues are made of active, living cells, which reside in a matrix, and it is the matrix which provides structure and mechanical function to the tissue. The cells generate and subsequently maintain the matrix; they detect the surrounding environment and respond by altering the composition and properties of the matrix to meet external demands. In musculoskeletal tissues, this process is dominated by response to mechanical stresses and strains, and we see this process occurring when we build muscle and bone strength through exercise.

Perhaps the tissue matrix does live up to its cinematic double. In the film, the matrix provides an enclosure for people, providing for their needs, but relying on them to power life. In our tissues, the matrix provides structure and surroundings for our cells, and the cells are expected to maintain and support it. But what happens when the system is disturbed? How do injuries arise? Herein lies a tale of how mechanical loading can generate localised failure in the matrix, leads to an uprising from the surrounding cells and disruption of that calm, homeostatic environment. Let’s explore that tale, and the ways in which we can prevent or rapidly contain an uprising. Perhaps we do want to keep our cells harmlessly plugged into the matrix…..

About Professor Hazel Screen

Hazel Screen is Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the School of Engineering & Materials Science. After graduating as a mechanical engineer from University College London in 1999, she moved to Queen Mary University of London for PhD studies, when her interest in tendon began. She is now internationally recognized for her expertise in the mechanobiology and multi-scale structure-function behaviour of soft tissues (particularly tendon), looking to explore how our tissues function in health, and the processes which lead to tissue injury.

Her research spans from the nano-scale to whole body mechanics, where she utilises a bioengineering approach to explore the relationships between tissue health and disease, and the surrounding mechanical environment. She has a particular interest in developing in vitro models of tissues, with which she explores the processes of injury and also investigates the efficacy of potential new treatments. Building this research avenue, she co-directs the QMUL Centre for Predictive in vitro Models and the UK-wide Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network. She has received over £5 million of funding to explore this area, and authored over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and several book chapters in this field.

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Arts Two Lecture Theatre, Mile End Campus

Queen Mary University of London

London

E1 4NS

United Kingdom

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