Engineering Professor Awarded $324K NSF Grant for Osteoporosis Research

Dr. Ani Ural (right) explains a concept to one of her Mechanical Engineering students.
Dr. Ani Ural (right) explains a concept to one of her Mechanical Engineering students.

Ani Ural, PhD, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the University’s Computational Biomechanics and Solid Mechanics Laboratory, has been awarded a three-year $324,259 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the effects of osteoporosis treatments on bone quality.

Bisphosphonates—the most commonly used osteoporosis treatment—have been effective in preventing osteoporotic fractures by suppressing bone turnover. There is increasing evidence, however, of a possible link between bisphosphonate use and atypical femoral fractures. Recent reports have raised the possibility of adverse mechanical modifications in bone due to extensive suppression of bone turnover.

Dr. Ural is conducting research into the changes in material composition, organization, and fracture resistance of bone resulting from suppressed bone turnover. The goal is to provide timely information on a significant potential public health problem associated with the most commonly used drug therapy for osteoporosis. Advancing understanding of the effects of osteoporosis treatments on bone quality will help identify those patients who are at risk of atypical femoral fracture.

In addition to the impact of this research on osteoporosis treatment, Dr. Ural’s study is integrating an active educational and outreach component that will broaden the participation of underrepresented groups in engineering.