Bone tissue plays a critical structural role in the skeleton, yet the underlying microstructure-mechanical property relationships are incompletely understood, in part due to the complex hierarchical structure of the tissue. We examine biopsies from human patients to understand disease- and treatment-induced changes in bone composition and their relationship to osteoporotic fracture incidence and bone tissue from animal models to elucidate fundamental structure-property relationships. To understand the relationships among bone turnover, material properties, and fracture incidence, we use vibrational spectroscopic imaging to characterize changes in the composition of osteoporotic human bone with antiresorptive pharmaceutical treatment. This work informs an emerging understanding of the pathophysiology of bisphosphonate-associated atypical fractures debated in the medical literature and reported in the popular press. Elucidation of microstructure-property relationships in normal and pathologic bone generates insights into the contribution of tissue material properties to skeletal integrity and the processes by which the load-bearing capability of bone is degraded in pathologic tissue.
Eve Donnelly is an Assistant Professor and the Dale R. Corson Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell University. Her current research focuses on characterizing disease- and treatment-induced changes in the properties of mineral and collagen and their effects on fracture risk. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Mineralized Tissues Laboratory at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Prior to that she studied skeletal tissue biology as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Cornell University, where she developed multiphoton imaging methodologies for characterizing primary cilia in tendon. Her Ph.D. research was performed in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University, where she examined the role of mineral and collagen on the mechanical properties of bone tissue at multiple length scales. Prior to that, she worked as a graduate student in Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University studying fatigue microcracks in aerospace alloys.
Dr. Donnelly received an NIH Ruth L Kirchstein National Research Service Award for her postdoctoral fellowship at HSS examining the effects of bone tissue mineral and matrix properties on fracture incidence. She received the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research’s Young Investigator Award in 2010 and Junior Faculty Osteoporosis Research Award in 2012 for her work on the effects of bisphosphonates on bone tissue properties. She received the New Investigator Recognition Award from the Orthopedic Research Society in 2009 and the Alice L. Jee Memorial Young Investigator Award from the Sun Valley Workshop on Skeletal Tissue Biology in 2007 for her work on imaging primary cilia in skeletal tissues. In 2103 she received an NIH K01 award to study bone material properties and mechanical behavior in Type II diabetic patients and in 2015 received an NSF CAREER award, “CAREER: Role of Variations in Tissue Material Properties in Bone Fracture Behavior.”