Sophia Leung is a PhD candidate at The University of Auckland’s Auckland Bioengineering Institute and Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. Her doctoral project, ‘Finding the links between knee injury and osteoarthritis’, aims to investigate how daily activities influence cellular and genetic functions in cartilage and to identify the genes that are sensitive to changes caused by knee injuries. This will lead to an understanding of the mechanical influences on cellular mechanobiology and thus help to elucidate mechanisms of the onset and progression of osteoarthritis.
Her research involved the development of a novel device for applying mechanical stimuli to cells seeded in specially designed 3D hydrogel constructs. The device applies not only uniaxial dynamic compression, tension, or shear to the constructs, but also complex physiologically relevant mechanical stimulation to the cells. Gene expression analyses of these mechanically stimulated cells were also carried out.