Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering (Bioengineering), Columbia University, 1989
Ph.M., Mechanical Engineering (Bioengineering), Columbia University, 1988
M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Columbia University, 1985
B.S. (summa cum laude), Mechanical Engineering, New York Institute of Technology, 1984
The main objective of Professor Athanasiou’s research is to understand and enhance the healing processes of cartilage. Indeed, successful cartilage regeneration continues to be the most vexing problem in musculoskeletal medicine. Following trauma (such as sports injuries) or pathologic affliction (such as osteoarthritis), cartilage is unable to heal itself in a way that would allow it to function properly under its strenuous and biomechanically difficult environment.
Of particular interest in our efforts are 1) hyaline articular cartilage, found in diarthrodial joints such as the knee, hip, and shoulder, 2) menisci, in the knee and temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and 3) fibrocartilage in the TMJ. Our approach entails the use of biodegradable scaffolds designed to incorporate suitable bioactive agents and signals to regenerate cartilage. We also place particular emphasis on certain aspects of scaffold design and overall approach. These include 1) biomechanical characterization of cartilage, 2) cell adhesion to substrata, and 3) attachment and effects of growth factors on chondrocytes.
In terms of cartilage biomechanics, we perform topographical characterizations of articulating surfaces using compressive indentation loading and tensile testing. To this end, we use custom-made instruments which allow us to obtain these tissues’ viscoelastic properties. We also develop biomechanical approaches to quantify cartilage structural integrity in vivo and arthroscopically. One of the main issues in scaffold design is to encourage cells to adhere correctly. A significant portion of our efforts centers around the elucidation of mechanisms of cell adhesion, defined as cell attachment, cell spreading, organization of actin cytoskeleton, and formation of focal adhesions. We use cytomechanical techniques to measure the mechanical adhesiveness and mechanical properties of individual cells as a function of peptide substrata. We believe that a deeper understanding and control of cell adhesion will result in better tissue engineered cartilage.
Sanchez-Adams J, Athanasiou KA. Biomechanics of meniscus cells: regional variation and comparison to articular chondrocytes and ligament cells. Biomech Model Mechanobiol. 2012 Jan 10. [Epub ahead of print]
Arzi B, Wisner ER, Huey DJ, Kass PH, Hu J, Athanasiou KA. A proposed model of naturally occurring osteoarthritis in the domestic rabbit. Lab Anim (NY). 2011 Dec 19;41(1):20-5.
Willard VP, Arzi B, Athanasiou KA. The attachments of the temporomandibular joint disc: A biochemical and histological investigation. Arch Oral Biol. 2011 Nov 28. [Epub ahead of print]
Huey DJ, Athanasiou KA. Tension-compression loading with chemical stimulation results in additive increases to functional properties of anatomic meniscal constructs. PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27857. Epub 2011 Nov 16.
Sanchez-Adams J, Athanasiou KA. Regional Effects of Enzymatic Digestion on Knee Meniscus Cell Yield and Phenotype for Tissue Engineering. Tissue Eng Part C Methods. 2011 Dec 2. [Epub ahead of print]
Eleswarapu SV, Responte DJ, Athanasiou KA. Tensile properties, collagen content, and crosslinks in connective tissues of the immature knee joint. PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e26178. Epub 2011 Oct 13.
Bhatavadekar NB, Hu J, Keys K, Ofek G, Athanasiou KA. Novel application of cytodetachment technology to the analysis of dental implant surfaces. Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants. 2011 Sep-Oct;26(5):985-90.
Eleswarapu SV, Chen JA, Athanasiou KA. Temporal assessment of ribose treatment on self-assembled articular cartilage constructs. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Oct 22;414(2):431-6. Epub 2011 Sep 28.
Sanchez-Adams J, Athanasiou KA. Dermis isolated adult stem cells for cartilage tissue engineering. Biomaterials. 2011 Sep 27.
Sanchez-Adams J, Willard VP, Athanasiou KA. Regional variation in the mechanical role of knee meniscus glycosaminoglycans. J Appl Physiol. 2011 Sep 8.
Wong ML, Leach JK, Athanasiou KA, Griffiths LG. The role of protein solubilization in antigen removal from xenogeneic tissue for heart valve tissue engineering. Biomaterials. 2011 Nov;32(32):8129-38. Epub 2011 Jul 31.
Makris EA, Hadidi P, Athanasiou KA. The knee meniscus: Structure-function, pathophysiology, current repair techniques, and prospects for regeneration. Biomaterials. 2011.
Olson SA, Brown TD, Athanasiou KA, Natoli RM, Dirschl DR. Applied biomechanics in articular injuries: perspectives in the basic investigation of articular injuries and clinical application. Instr Course Lect. 60:583-94, 2011.
Athanasiou KA. Special issues. Ann Biomed Eng. Ann Biomed Eng. 39(6):1607, 2011.
Kalpakci KN, Kim EJ, Athanasiou KA. Assessment of growth factor treatment on fibrochondrocyte and chondrocyte co-cultures for TMJ fibrocartilage engineering. Acta Biomater. Acta Biomater. 7(4):1710-8, 2011.
Huey DJ, Athanasiou KA. Biomaterials. Maturational growth of self-assembled, functional menisci as a result of TGF-β1 and enzymatic chondroitinase-ABC stimulation. Biomaterials. 32(8):2052-8, 2011.