Over decades, the theoretical and applied mechanics community has developed sophisticated approaches for analysing the behaviour of complex engineering systems. Most of these approaches have targeted systems in the transportation, materials, defence and energy industries. Applying and further developing engineering approaches for understanding, predicting and modulating the response of complicated biomedical processes not only holds great promise in meeting societal needs, but also poses serious challenges. This report, prepared for the US National Committee on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, aims to identify the most pressing challenges in biological sciences and medicine that can be tackled within the broad field of mechanics. This echoes and complements a number of national and international initiatives aiming at fostering interdisciplinary biomedical research. This report also comments on cultural/educational challenges. Specifically, this report focuses on three major thrusts in which we believe mechanics has and will continue to have a substantial impact. (i) Rationally engineering injectable nano/microdevices for imaging and therapy of disease. Within this context, we discuss nanoparticle carrier design, vascular transport and adhesion, endocytosis and tumour growth in response to therapy, as well as uncertainty quantification techniques to better connect models and experiments. (ii) Design of biomedical devices, including point-of-care diagnostic systems, model organ and multi-organ microdevices, and pulsatile ventricular assistant devices. (iii) Mechanics of cellular processes, including mechanosensing and mechanotransduction, improved characterization of cellular constitutive behaviour, and microfluidic systems for single-cell studies.
Keywords: biomedical device design; cell mechanics; nanoparticle-mediated drug delivery.
© 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.