The mechanobiology of the cerebral aneurysm wall: Our current understanding and future research directions

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department Seminar Series

Anne M. Robertson, Ph.D.
Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Professor of Bioengineering
Pittsburgh University

Intracranial aneurysms (IA) are pathological enlargements of the walls of cerebral arteries, estimated to exist in approximately 5% of the adult population. Their spontaneous rupture is responsible for roughly 80% of subarachnoid hemorrhagic strokes, a devastating disease with high mortality and disability rates. The most common treatment modalities are surgical clipping and endovascular coiling. Both remain imperfect with respect to efficacy and morbidity. The introduction of intracranial flow diverters as an endovascular treatment was hailed as a possible resolution to many of the shortcomings of these modalities. Unexplained aneurysm ruptures after seemingly successful treatment with flow diverters have been a sobering reminder of the need for a science based understanding of the influence of altered hemodynamics on aneurysm wall structure and function.

One central focus of the Robertson group is the mechanobiology of arterial walls in health and disease, with a particular focus on cerebral aneurysms. In this talk, we discuss the current state of knowledge of the relationship between hemodynamics, wall content (cellular and extra-cellular) and wall strength in human aneurysms and in relevant animal models. This will include a discussion of the biomechanics of walls that have successfully remodeled. An integrated understanding of the link between hemodynamics, wall structure and wall mechanics in cerebral aneurysms is vital for improving flow altering devises such as flow diverters and developing pharmacological approaches directed at disrupting this flow dependent degradation and harnessing the ability of the wall to maintain structural integrity.


Anne M. Robertson is Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds a William Kepler Whiteford Endowed Professorship in Engineering. Dr. Robertson's research is focused on cerebral vascular disease and mechanobiology. The NIH, NSF, DOE and The Whitaker Foundation have funded this work. She is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal for Numerical Methods in Biomedical Engineering. She earned an MS and PhD from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at U.C. Berkeley and was a President's postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering at U.C. Berkeley.