The Developmental Biomechanics Group combines experimental and computational approaches to the study of the role of mechanical forces on prenatal skeletal development. When there is not enough movement in the womb, the spine, bones and joints can be severely affected, but the underlying reasons are not well understood. It is unclear how much movement, and what type of movements, are important for normal development of the skeleton. The aim of the multidisciplinary research done being conducted in the Nowlan Group is to enhance our fundamental understanding of the role of mechanical forces on the formation, adaptation and maintenance of healthy cartilage and bone

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Research Projects

Stresses and strains induced by fetal kicks

Role of mechanical forces in joint morphogenesis

Fetal movements, spine development and congenital scoliosis

Wearable sensor for fetal movements

Research Methods and Techniques


  • Developmental model systems of abnormal fetal movements
  • 3D imaging of developing skeleton using Optical Projection Tomography (OPT)
  • in vitro explant culture using bioreactor system
  • Immunohistochemistry and histology

Computational and mathematical:

  • Finite element analysis
  • Musculoskeletal modelling
  • 3D shape characterisation and quantification
  • Image registration
  • Mechanobiological modelling