Mellanby Seminar- Dr Richard Abel, Friday 4th May, 1-2pm

“Breaking Bad”

Dr Richard Abel

Imperial College London

Friday 4 May 2018

1.00-2.00 pm

Lecture Theatre 3, F Floor, The Medical School



Dr Richie Abel joined the Department of Surgery and Cancer in December 2010. His current research focuses on understanding why some people age healthily whilst others fracture. The aim of the research is

to develop metrics for measuring bone health and fragility which could be used to improve the diagnosis of osteoporosis and measurement of treatment outcomes.



Apart from analyses of well-known correlates of age-related hip fracture risk, such as low BMD, impaired external geometry and deteriorated micro-architecture, there is increasing interest to elucidate the nano-scale (i.e. material) contribution.  Bone is a nanocomposite of collagen and mineral particles. The structure of which may be  crucial for the mechanical performance of bone as a whole.


All of which raises the question: How do age, disease or treatment related changes in the intrinsic material properties of bone improve or reduce mechanical properties?


Until recently these questions were impossible to answer because of the difficulty in visualising the nano-structure of bone under in situ loading – at the level of the collagen fibril or mineral crystal. Therefore our team has developed a series of imaging techniques using a Synchrotron Particle Accelerator at the Diamond Light Source (…think CERN in the oxford countryside…).

The talk will explain what we have learned by watching how the mineral collagen matrix behaves under loading. Our Sample size are small (but growing) so we would be keen to hear other opinions on the data.