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Silva Lab

Matthew Silva

Matthew Silva, Ph.D

Julia and Walter R. Peterson Orthopaedic Research Professor

Department of Orthopaedics Washington University
BJC - Institute of Health
11th floor - RM 11619
Phone: (314) 747-3772

Click here to visit the Musculoskeletal Structure and Strength website.


Skeletal Mechanobiology and Biomechanics:With aging or osteoporosis, people lose bone mass. This leads to weaker bones and an increase in fracture risk. Nine million adults in the U.S. have osteoporosis, and another 48 million have low bone mass and are at risk for osteoporosis. After the age of 50, one-half of women and one-quarter of men will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their remaining lifetime, greatly affecting quality of life and in some cases shortening lifespan. Our lab is interested in all aspects of osteoporosis and how it impacts bone strength. We use biomechanics techniques to measure the structure and density of bones, and to test their strength in the lab. These techniques allow us to quantify bone properties and better define how bones break and what properties are most important to maintain strong bones. But how can we help treatment of osteoporosis? We study bone mechanobiology, i.e., how bones respond to mechanical forces. Bones are living organs that change throughout life. Mechanical loading is a potent way to stimulate bone cells to add new layers of bone tissue on top of existing bone. This increases bone mass and strength, in other words it can potentially reverse osteoporosis. We examine this phenomenon using several in vivo mechanical loading approaches, ranging from mild loading using whole-body vibration to fatigue loading that produces stress fractures. Students, fellows and staff working in our lab utilize multidisciplinary methods to assess skeletal responses in these studies, including micro-computed tomography (µCT), positron emission tomography (PET), gene expression by real-time qPCR and microarray analysis, dynamic and static histomorphometry, and mechanical testing. Our overall goal is to better understand the mechanical and molecular factors that regulate loading-induced bone formations so that we can find new strategies to treat osteoporosis.