Dr Stefaan Verbruggen
Lecturer in Biomechanics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and a Principal Investigator at the Insigneo Institute for in silico Medicine, University of Sheffield
Osteocyte mechanobiology in aging, disease and cancer
Telephone: +44 114 222 0159
Dr Stefaan Verbruggen is a Lecturer in Biomechanics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and a Principal Investigator at the Insigneo Institute for in silico Medicine, at the University of Sheffield. Dr Verbruggen is organiser for the Integrated Musculo-Skeletal Biomechanics research group, which brings together a number of research teams specialising in problems with movement and musculoskeletal diseases. He is also a member of the BioMed Engineering Association, the Orthopaedic Research Society, the European Society of Biomechanics, the European Association for Cancer Research, and the UK Organ-on-a-Chip Network. Most recently, Stefaan completed a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship at Queen Mary University of London and at Columbia University, New York.
Dr Verbruggen studies bone mechanobiology, a multi-disciplinary field, focussed on how the cells and tissues in our body respond to physical forces, through altered signalling cascades or adaptations in the material properties of extracellular matrix. Dr Verbruggen’s research has focussed on a number of diseases in which the mechanobiology of osteocytes, the most abundant bone cell, plays a key role. These include how osteocytes sense exercise during osteoporosis and how a baby’s kick in the womb is key to normal joint development. This exciting field of research is expanding rapidly to explore ever-more complex diseases, with Dr. Verbruggen’s group working to build representative organ-on-a-chip models of metastatic breast and prostate cancer, and identifying new therapeutic targets for associated bone lesions.
Dr Verbruggen is involved in a number of collaborative research projects investigating the role of osteocytes in various mechanisms, including regulating ageing (Tamara Alliston, University of California, San Francisco), spinal fracture risk in multiple myeloma patients (Julia Shelton at Queen Mary University of London and Sean Molloy at the, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital), and the tumour microenvironment of breast cancer metastases (Martin Knight at Queen Mary University of London and Oliver Pearce at Barts Cancer Institute, funded by the EPSRC-CRUK).