Ryan K. Roeder

Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and the Bioengineering Graduate Program


Prof. Ryan K. Roeder of the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and the Bioengineering Graduate Program leads efforts in biomaterials, biomechanics, orthopaedics, and materials engineering research and education at Notre Dame.

Over the last decade, Prof. Roeder’s lab has investigated non-invasive detection of microdamage in bone using contrast-enhanced micro-computed tomography. There is currently no means available to the clinician, or researcher, to non-invasively assess the accumulation of microscopic cracks that form in bone tissue and can lead to fractures. With the help of collaborators like Prof. Glen L. Niebur, the Roeder lab has developed new methods that are being adopted for use in scientific studies. Most recently, important steps were taken toward the goal of developing a deliverable contrast agent that can be used in vivo by functionalizing gold nanoparticles with molecules that target damaged tissue. This project has also led to an unforeseen collaboration with Dr. Tracy Vargo-Gogola at Notre Dame’s Harper Cancer Research Institute and Indiana University Medical School South Bend using similar nanoparticles for improved detection of microcalcifications associated with breast cancer.

Prof. Roeder’s lab also recently developed novel bioactive and porous scaffolds that are able to mimic the mechanical properties of human vertebral trabecular bone in a highly porous scaffold with characteristics known to be favorable for bone ingrowth. These implants are of clinical interest for interbody spinal fusion, synthetic bone graft substitutes, and tissue engineering scaffolds. Dr. Stephen Smith, a local neurosurgeon, has provided consultation on the clinical needs for improved spinal fusion outcomes. Several patents have been filed and the Office of Technology Transfer is seeking industrial partners for licensing or co-development.

Prof. Roeder’s multidisciplinary research group includes graduate students with backgrounds in mechanical engineering, materials engineering, bioengineering, chemical engineering, and chemistry. Former students are now researchers at universities and hospitals (including Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City; Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing) and in industry (for example, RTI Biologics, Biomet, and Zimmer). His research projects have been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the National Science Foundation, the State of Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, and private corporations.