Biomedical Engineering

Kyriacos A. Athanasiou

Distinguished Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering

(530) 752-7193

1202 GBSF

Athanasiou’s Lab


Personal Education

Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering (Bioengineering), Columbia University, 1989

Ph.M., Mechanical Engineering (Bioengineering), Columbia University, 1988

M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Columbia University, 1985

B.S. (summa cum laude), Mechanical Engineering, New York Institute of Technology, 1984

Research Interest

The main objective of Professor Athanasiou’s research is to understand and enhance the healing processes of cartilage. Indeed, successful cartilage regeneration continues to be the most vexing problem in musculoskeletal medicine. Following trauma (such as sports injuries) or pathologic affliction (such as osteoarthritis), cartilage is unable to heal itself in a way that would allow it to function properly under its strenuous and biomechanically difficult environment.

Of particular interest in our efforts are 1) hyaline articular cartilage, found in diarthrodial joints such as the knee, hip, and shoulder, 2) menisci, in the knee and temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and 3) fibrocartilage in the TMJ. Our approach entails the use of biodegradable scaffolds designed to incorporate suitable bioactive agents and signals to regenerate cartilage. We also place particular emphasis on certain aspects of scaffold design and overall approach. These include 1) biomechanical characterization of cartilage, 2) cell adhesion to substrata, and 3) attachment and effects of growth factors on chondrocytes.

In terms of cartilage biomechanics, we perform topographical characterizations of articulating surfaces using compressive indentation loading and tensile testing. To this end, we use custom-made instruments which allow us to obtain these tissues’ viscoelastic properties. We also develop biomechanical approaches to quantify cartilage structural integrity in vivo and arthroscopically. One of the main issues in scaffold design is to encourage cells to adhere correctly. A significant portion of our efforts centers around the elucidation of mechanisms of cell adhesion, defined as cell attachment, cell spreading, organization of actin cytoskeleton, and formation of focal adhesions. We use cytomechanical techniques to measure the mechanical adhesiveness and mechanical properties of individual cells as a function of peptide substrata. We believe that a deeper understanding and control of cell adhesion will result in better tissue engineered cartilage.

Research Facility

Dr. Athanasiou’s Lab

Selected Publications

Out of approximately 300 publications, five articles selected per year, past five years only.


  1. Makris EA, Responte DJ, Paschos NK, Hu JC, Athanasiou KA. Developing functional musculoskeletal tissues through hypoxia and lysyl oxidase-induced collagen cross-linking. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2014; epub ahead of print.PDF
  2. Murphy MK, Huey DJ, Hu JC, Athanasiou KA. TGF-β1, GDF-5, and BMP-2 stimulation induces chondrogenesis in expanded human articular chondrocytes and marrow-derived stromal cells. Stem Cells 2014; epub ahead of print.PDF
  3. Makris EA, Gomoll AH, Malizos KN, Athanasiou KA. Repair and tissue engineering techniques for articular cartilage. Nature Reviews Rheumatology 2014; epub ahead of print.PDF
  4. Makris EA, MacBarb RF, Paschos NK, Hu JC, Athanasiou KA. Combined use of chondroitinase-ABC, TGF-beta 1, and collagen crosslinldng agent lysyl oxidase to engineer functional neotissues for fibiocartilage repair. Biomaterials 2014; 35: 6787-6796.PDF
  5. Hadidi P, Yeh TC, Hu JC, Athanasiou KA. Critical seeding density improves the properties and translatability of self-assembling anatomically shaped knee menisci. Acta Biomaterialia 2014; epub ahead of print.PDF


  1. Makris EA, MacBarb RF, Responte DJ, Hu JC, Athanasiou KA. A Copper Sulfate and Hydroxylysine Treatment Regimen for Enhancing Collagen Cross-linking and Biomechanical Properties in Engineered Neocartilage. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology 2013; 27: 2421-2430. PDF
  2. Makris EA, Hu JC, Athanasiou KA. Hypoxia-induced collagen crosslinking as a mechanism for enhancing mechanical properties of engineered articular cartilage. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 2013; 21: 634-641. PDF
  3. Eleswarapu SV, Athanasiou KA. TRPV4 channel activation improves the tensile properties of self-assembled articular cartilage constructs. Acta Biomaterialia 2013; 9: 5554-5561. PDF
  4. Murphy MK, DuRaine GD, Reddi A, Hu JC, Athanasiou KA. Inducing Articular Cartilage Phenotype in Costochondral Cells. Arthritis Research & Therapy 2013; 15: R214. PDF
  5. Athanasiou KA, Eswaramoorthy R, Hadidi P, Hu, JC. Self-Organization and the Self-Assembling Process in Tissue Engineering. Annual Review of Biomedical Bngineering 2013; 15: 115-136. PDF


  1. Dowling EP, Ronan W, Ofek G, Deshpande VS, McMeeking RM, Athanasiou KA, et al. The effect of remodelling and contractility of the actin cytoskeleton on the shear resistance of single cells: a computational and experimental investigation. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 2012; 9: 3469-79. PDF
  2. Responte DJ, Natoli RM, Athanasiou KA. Identification of potential biophysical and molecular signaling mechanisms underlying hyaluronic acid enhancement of cartilage formation. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 2012. PDF
  3. Huey DJ, Hu JC, Athanasiou KA. Unlike bone, cartilage regeneration remains elusive. Science 2012; 338: 917-21. PDF
  4. Responte DJ, Arzi B, Natoli RM, Hu JC, Athanasiou KA. Mechanisms underlying the synergistic enhancement of self-assembled neocartilage treated with chondroitinase-ABC and TGF-beta1. Biomaterials 2012; 33: 3187-94. PDF
  5. Sanchez-Adams J, Athanasiou KA. Dermis isolated adult stem cells for cartilage tissue engineering. Biomaterials 2012; 33: 109-19. PDF


  1. Sanchez-Adams J, Willard VP, Athanasiou KA. Regional variation in the mechanical role of knee meniscus glycosaminoglycans. Journal of Applied Physiology 2011; 111: 1590-6. PDF
  2. Wong ML, Leach JK, Athanasiou KA, Griffiths LG. The role of protein solubilization in antigen removal from xenogeneic tissue for heart valve tissue engineering. Biomaterials 2011; 32: 8129-38. PDF
  3. Makris EA, Hadidi P, Athanasiou KA. The knee meniscus: structure-function, pathophysiology, current repair techniques, and prospects for regeneration. Biomaterials 2011; 32: 7411-31. PDF
  4. Kalpakci KN, Kim EJ, Athanasiou KA. Assessment of growth factor treatment on fibrochondrocyte and chondrocyte co-cultures for TMJ fibrocartilage engineering. Acta Biomaterialia 2011; 7: 1710-8. PDF
  5. Huey DJ, Athanasiou KA. Maturational growth of self-assembled, functional menisci as a result of TGF-beta1 and enzymatic chondroitinase-ABC stimulation. Biomaterials 2011; 32: 2052-8. PDF


  1. Natoli RM, Skaalure S, Bijlani S, Chen KX, Hu J, Athanasiou KA. Intracellular Na(+) and Ca(2+) modulation increases the tensile properties of developing engineered articular cartilage. Arthritis Rheumatism 2010; 62: 1097-107. PDF
  2. Elder BD, Kim DH, Athanasiou KA. Developing an articular cartilage decellularization process toward facet joint cartilage replacement. Neurosurgery 2010; 66: 722-7; discussion 727. PDF
  3. Gunja NJ, Athanasiou KA. Effects of hydrostatic pressure on leporine meniscus cell-seeded PLLA scaffolds. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A 2010; 92: 896-905. PDF
  4. Sanchez-Adams J, Athanasiou KA. Biomechanical characterization of single chondrocytes. In book Cellular and Biomolecular Mechanics and Mechanobiology, Amit Gefen, (ed), Studies in Mechanobiology, Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials, 2010. PDF
  5. Willard VP, Zhang L, Athanasiou KA. Tissue Engineering of the Temporomandibular Joint, D. Ducheyne, K. Healy, D. Hutmacher, and J. Kirkpatrick, (ed), Comprehensive Biomaterials, 2010. PDF