PhD students

These are the final Early Stage Researchers (ESR) recruited in the CuraBone project to pursue their PhD.

Gabriele Nasello

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Gabriele took his bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Università degli Studi di Palermo within the three regular academic years with the final grade of 110/100 cum laude, at the end of which he was selected for an advanced educational project to spend two months in the United States at Dr. William R. Wagner's laboratory in the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (University of Pittsburgh). After that, Gabriele decided to enroll the master’s degree programme in Biomedical Engineering - Biomechanics and Biomaterials at Politecnico di Milano, where he achived the final grade of 110/110 cum laude and he was awarded with the scholarship "Cavaliere del Lavoro Pietro Catelli, Fondatore del ARTSANA Group" for having one of the two highest weighted average grade between candidates from all master degrees in engineering at Politecnico di Milano. At the end of his master studies, Gabriele was awarded again to spend six months at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (University of Pittsburgh). He is currently working on his PhD in the CuraBone project on how scaffold mechanics affect tissue regenerations, and how computational models could predict the cellular response to mechanical stimuli.

PhD Project

The objective is the development and experimental validation of a novel numerical tool that provides insights on the biological response of the host tissue when scaffolds for bone tissue engineering are implanted, both in terms of osseointegration and bone ingrowth. Experimental methodologies are based on the use of simplified bone tissue models in microfluidic devices and the culture of bone cells in 3D printed titanium scaffolds with further mechanical stimulation with the use of a bioreactor. Computational analysis will mainly rely on models that correlate bone regeneration to the mechanical stimulus acting on the scaffold, and it will be validated by the experimental tests. The final use of the computational model is to guide the personalized designs of permanent scaffolds for the treatment of large bone defects.

Maria received her bachelor’s and master degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Leibniz Universität Hannover in Germany. During her studies she wrote her project thesis about prediction of ground reaction forces in the AnyBody Group of John Rasmussen in Aalborg, Denmark, using the human simulation software AnyBody. For her master studies she developed a finite-element-model of the femur, simulating gait with and without implants. Maria is currently working on his PhD in the CuraBone project on how to develop a bioresorbable bone plate for cranio-maxillofacial applications.

PhD Project

The objective is the development and experimental validation of a bioresorbable bone plate used for cranio-maxillofacial (CMF) surgery. Multiple possible materials such as polycaprolactone (PCL) and Magnesium will be investigated. Mechanical testing data of the reference Titanium implants will be used to validate a finite element model that can predict mechanical strength. Additionally, a material degradation model will be developed and validated to predict mechanical strength over time. Lastly, a physiological model including bone healing simulation will be developed to simulate the post-op situation. With these models, the performance of a bioresorbable implant can be simulated during the healing process. The developed models will be used to adapt the current implant design to ensure equivalent mechanical strength and functional performance to Titanium implants.

Maria Hilvert


Simone Russo


Simone Russo received his bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Università di Pisa (Pisa, Italy) in 2014 and his master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Politecnico di Milano (Milan, Italy) in 2017. Currently (since February 2018), he is a PhD student in Bioengineering at Universidad de Zaragoza (Zaragoza, Spain). During recent years, he has conducted extensive research and development on regenerative medicine. Simone worked as Trainee (from November 2012 to February 2014) in Prof. Arti Ahluwalia’s group at Centro Interdipartimentale “E. Piaggio” (Pisa, Italy) where he designed and prototyped a new holder for membrane bioreactors to implement a TEER (Trans-Epithelial Electrical Resistance) sensor for becoming a valid substitution of the animal experimentation to create living model. In September 2016 (till October 2017) he moved to London to work as Visiting Research Assistant in Prof. Paolo De Coppi’s group at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (London, United Kingdom). Here, his main activities were decellularizing tissues/organs and projecting/testing new bioreactors for Tissue Engineering applications, focusing on re-vascularization process of organs: small intestine, stomach, liver, spleen and lungs.

In November 2017 (till January 2018) Simone came back to Milan, pursuing his activities in Dr. Matteo Moretti’s group at the Cell and Tissue Engineering Lab (IRCCS Galeazzi Orthopedic Institute, Milan, Italy): his main research field was tissue engineering of cartilage to develop a new predictive model for rehabilitation through a customized bioreactor, collaborating with Dr. Fabio Galbusera’s group for biomechanical simulation modelling. His PhD project is part of CuraBone project: he is working on tissue engineering and biomechanics of bone: characterization of biodegradable scaffolds, 3D printing, cell culture, computational modelling. The main goal is developing a combined in-vitro/in-silico model of bone regeneration on biodegradable scaffolds.

PhD Project

The aim is developing a combined in-vitro/in-silico model of scaffolds’ degradation in response of the biological feedbacks of the host tissue when the scaffolds for bone tissue engineering are implanted. Dynamic conditions may help tissue regeneration; thus, this study will be conducted considering perfusion and load applied on the constructs. Polymeric scaffolds are 3D printed. Thanks to in-vitro experiment, it may be possible to validate the in-silico model as a predictive model of degradation. The final goal is to obtain some guidelines and tools to study further degradable scaffolds.

Maria Paz took his degree in Mechanical Engineering at University of Zaragoza. As she had been always attracted by medicine, she did her degree thesis about the influence of different types of knee implants in bone resorption. She decided to continue in the field with a Master in Biomedical Engineering at University of Zaragoza, combining it with an internship within the research group Multiscale in mechanical and biological engineering (M2BE). In that project, she worked together with surgeons of the Hospital Clinico Universitario Lozano Blesa carrying out and study about the influence of hip implants parameters in the risk of luxation. After this, she decided to tackle new challenges outside academia, where she explored different areas of Mechanical Engineering, holding positions as Product Manager and Supplier Quality Engineer at multinational companies of automotive industry. After 3 years in this field, her passion for biomechanics and the possibility to work on it in a business-oriented environment brought her back to the medical field. She is currently working as Research Engineer for Materialise, developing a Pre-planning tool for Total Knee Arthroplasty as part of her PhD. Her experience in both academia and industry fields provided her with a combination of remarkable skills in problem-solving, decision-making, organization and project management.

Maria Paz Quilez

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PhD Project

Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is a surgical procedure with high long-term reliability, yet up to a fifth of primary implant patients remains unsatisfied. This indicates that the golden standard of restoring neutral leg alignment not always results in the desired functional outcome. Recent intra-operative soft tissue balancing sensors incorporate the important stability effect of the ligaments, but these solutions cannot be used in a pre-operative planning setting. The goal of this thesis is to develop a TKA planning evaluation method that can be used to optimize a surgical plan, aiming for an optimal clinical outcome. A musculoskeletal model (MSM) will be used to calculate the ligament strains, kinematics and contact forces, given the implant type, size, position and orientation. Next, evaluator functions will be defined and used to score the surgical plan regarding clinical outcome. These evaluator functions are numeric representations of different surgical planning strategies. The clinical outcome evaluation will take into account the evaluator function scores in an optimization scheme, modifying the implant parameters to obtain an optimized plan. Clinical outcome data from TKA patients will be collected to validate the model scheme. In this way, the clinical outcome of TKA surgery will be improved using an innovative planning tool to increase the patient satisfaction rate.

Jonathan Pitocchi

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Jonathan took his bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering at the “Università degli Studi di Bologna” within the three regular academic years. After that, Jonathan decided to continue with the master’s degree programme in Biomedical Engineering. He achieved the final grade of 110/110 cum laude. During his master thesis, he spent a period of 6 months at the Reykjavik University, Iceland, under the supervision of Prof. Paolo Gargiulo and with the collaboration of Prof. Luca Cristofolini. At the end of his master studies, Jonathan spent a period of 3 months as intern at the ‘Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli’, Bologna, under the supervision of Ing. Enrico Schileo, working on the project “Does cortical bone mapping improve FE strain prediction accuracy at the proximal femur?” He is currently working on his PhD in the CuraBone project entitled: “Optimization of a custom specific shoulder implant for Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty (RSA)”

PhD Project

The Materialise Glenius® custom implant is an innovative solution for reverse shoulder arthroplasty to treat patients with severe glenoid bone loss. Currently, bone-implant micromotion and process inaccuracies are not taken into account during the pre-operative planning, although they might have effect on the surgical outcome. The main goal of this project is to define a method to optimize long-term implant fixation which is robust to process inaccuracies. A FE-model for micromotion prediction will be developed and validated to be used during the implant design. To increase the robustness to the uncertainties of the contact area, the effectiveness of new scaffold structures for the interface will be investigated. Eventually, a procedure to automatically obtain a robust plan for optimal implant fixation will be defined. The initial position and screws configuration of an implant will be evaluated in terms of micro-motion and robustness to the uncertainties, for example by perturbing the scaffold-bone contact area. Then, through an optimization of the screw parameters and the prosthesis design, the best combination will be provided to the surgeon, thus guaranteeing a robust plan for implant fixation. In this way, the pre-operative planning for shoulder implants can be improved by decreasing planning time and ensuring a better surgical outcome.

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Funding

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 722535.

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