Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department


Committee Chair/Advisor

Burg, Karen JL

Committee Member

Lee, Jeoungsoo

Committee Member

LaBerge, Martine

Committee Member

Harman, Melinda


According to the Centers for Disease Control, the geriatric population of ≥65 years of age will increase to 51.5 million in 2020; 40% of white women and 13% of white men will be at risk for fragility fractures or fractures sustained under normal stress and loading conditions due to bone disease, leading to hospitalization and surgical treatment. Fracture management strategies can be divided into pharmaceutical therapy, surgical intervention, and tissue regeneration for fracture prevention, fracture stabilization, and fracture site regeneration, respectively. However, these strategies fail to accommodate the pathological nature of fragility fractures, leading to unwanted side effects, implant failures, and non-unions. Compromised innate bone healing reactions of patients with bone diseases are exacerbated with protective bone therapy. Once these patients sustain a fracture, bone healing is a challenge, especially when fracture stabilization is unsuccessful. Traditional stabilizing screw and plate systems were designed with emphasis on bone mechanics rather than biology. Bone grafts are often used with fixation devices to provide skeletal continuity at the fracture gap. Current bone grafts include autologous bone tissue and donor bone tissue; however, the quality and quantity demanded by fragility fractures sustained by high-risk geriatric patients and patients with bone diseases are not met. Consequently, bone tissue engineering strategies are advancing towards functionalized bone substitutes to provide fracture reconstruction while effectively mediating bone healing in normal and diseased fracture environments. In order to target fragility fractures, fracture management strategies should be tailored to allow bone regeneration and fracture stabilization with bioactive bone substitutes designed for the pathological environment. The clinical outcome of these materials must be predictable within various disease environments. Initial development of a targeted treatment strategy should focus on simulating, in vitro, a physiological bone environment to predict clinical effectiveness of engineered bone and understand cellular responses due to the proposed agents and bioactive scaffolds. An in vitro test system can be the necessary catalyst to reduce implant failures and non-unions in fragility fractures.



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