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Mitchell Schaffler

Faculty and Staff Profiles

Mitchell B. Schaffler

Wallace H. Coulter and CUNY Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Department Chair

Steinman Hall
Phone Number: 
(212) 650-5070
(212) 650-6727

B.S., 1978, Stony Brook University (Biological Sciences) 

Ph.D., 1985, West Virginia University (Anatomy/Orthopaedics)

Post-doc, 1987, University of Utah/U.S. Department of Energy (Radiobiology)

Research Interests
  • Bone biomechanics
  • Tendon biomechanics
  • Skeletal fragility and aging
  • Bone physiology
  • Osteocyte function
  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Quantitative methods in analysis of skeletal structure

The major research emphasis of the Bone and Joint Laboratory is to understand how skeletal tissues (bone, ligament, tendon, cartilage) develop, maintain and repair themselves in order to meet mechanical demands throughout life. We focus on the cellular and integrative processes that control the architectural features of bone and tendon, and governs how they responds to physical challenges normally and in aging and in diseases such as osteoporosis, genetic defects and diabetes. Our current research efforts focus on fatigue and repair in bone and tendon, with specific emphasis on discovering how living cells in these tissues detect and repair wear and tear damage before it accumulates to the point of mechanical failure. We are also examining how osteocytes (the tissue-resident bone cells) influence s mechanical function, both directly by modulating local matrix composition, and indirectly by controlling local bone remodeling activities. In related studies, we are examining how osteocytes function as mechanical sensors that allow bone to perceive and react to mechanical loading. Experimental approaches used in the Bone and Joint Laboratory focus on the cell and tissue levels, and include in vivo and tissue mechanical loading studies, mechanical and biomaterials testing, microscopy, microcomputed tomography and secondary harmonic imaging modalities, cell culture and molecular biology.


Selected Publications
Bentolila V., T.M. Boyce, D.P. Fyhrie, T.M. Skerry and M.B. Schaffler. Intracortical remodeling in adult rat long bones after fatigue loading. Bone 23:275-281, 1998.

Boyce, T.M., D.P. Fyhrie, E.L. Radin and M.B. Schaffler. Damage and strain mode associations in human compact bone bending fatigue. Journal of Orthopaedic Research 16:322-329, 1998.

Vashishth D., J. Koontz, S-J Qiu, D Lundin-Cannon, Y.N. Yeni, M.B. Schaffler and D.P. Fyhrie In vivo diffuse damage in human vertebral trabecular bone. Bone 26: 147-152, 2000.

Vashishth D., O. Verborgt, G. Divine, M.B. Schaffler and D.P. Fyhrie Decline in osteocyte lacunar density in human cortical bone is associated with the accumulation of microcracks with age Bone 26:375-380, 2000.

Verborgt O., G.J. Gibson and M.B. Schaffler Loss of osteocyte integrity in association with microdamage and bone remodeling after fatigue in vivo. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 15: 60-67, 2000.

Schaffler M.B. and K.J Jepsen Fatigue and repair in bone. International Journal of Fatigue 22:839-846, 2000.

You L. S.C. Cowin, M.B. Schaffler and S Weinbaum. A model for strain amplification in the cytoskeleton of osteocytes due to fluid drag on pericellular matrix. Journal of Biomechanics 34:1375-1386, 2001.

Verborgt O., N.A. Tatton, R.J Majeska and M.B. Schaffler. Differential expression of Bax and Bcl-2 in osteocytes after bone fatigue: Complementary roles in bone remodeling regulation? Journal Bone and Mineral Research 17: 907-914, 2002.

Tami A., P. Nasser, O. Verborgt, M.B. Schaffler and M.L. Knothe Tate The role of interstitial fluid flow in the remodeling response to fatigue loading. Journal Bone and Mineral Research 17:2030-2037, 2002.

Akkus, O., A. Polyakova-Akkus, F. Adar and M.B. Schaffler. Aging of microstructural compartments in human compact bone. Journal Bone and Mineral Research 18:1012-1019, 2003.

Schaffler MB. Role of bone turnover in microdamage. Osteoporosis International 14, Suppl 5:73-80, 2003.

Akkus, O., F. Adar and M.B. Schaffler. Age-related changes in physicochemical properties of mineral crystals are related to impaired mechanical function of cortical bone. Bone 34:443-453, 2004.

You, L-D, S. Weinbaum, S.C. Cowin and M.B. Schaffler. Ultrastructure of the osteocyte process. Anatomical Record 278A: 505-513, 2004.

Hernandez, C.J., R.J. Majeska and M.B. Schaffler. Osteocyte density in woven bone. Bone 35:1095-1099, 2004.

Han Y-F, S.C. Cowin, M.B. Schaffler and S. Weinbaum Mechanotransduction and strain amplification in osteocyte cell processes. Proceedings, National Academy of Sciences 101:16689-94, 2004.

Tommasini, S.M,. P. Nasser, M.B. Schaffler and K.J Jepsen. The relationship between bone morphology and bone quality in male tibiae: Implications for stress fracture risk. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 20: 1372-1380, 2005.

Li, C-Y C. Price; K. Delisser, P. Nasser, D. Laudier, M.O. Clement, K.J. Jepsen and M.B. Schaffler. Long-term disuse osteoporosis appears less sensitive to bisphosphonate treatment than other osteoporosis Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 20:117-124, 2005.

Wang, L, R.J. Majeska, Y. Wang, S. Henderson, Y. Han, S. Weinbaum and M.B. Schaffler. In situ measurement of solute transport in the bone lacunar-canalicular system PNAS 102: 11911-16, 2005.

Li, C.Y, K.J. Jepsen; R.J. Majeska, J. Zhang; R. Ni; B.D. Gelb and M.B. Schaffler. Mice lacking cathepsin K maintain bone remodeling but develop bone fragility despite high bone mass. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 21: 865-875, 2006.

Wang Y., L. McNamara, M.B. Schaffler and S Weinbaum. A model for the role of integrins in flow induced mechanotransduction in osteocytes. PNAS 104: 15941-46, 2007.

Fung, D.P., V.M. Wang, K.J. Jepsen, M.B. Schaffler and E.L. Flatow. Subrupture tendon fatigue damage. Journal of Orthopaedic Research (E pub) 2008.

Cardoso L., B.C. Herman, O. Verborgt, D.M. Laudier, R.J. Majeska and M.B. Schaffler, Osteocyte apoptosis controls activation of intracortical resorption in response to bone fatigue. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (In press).

Z. Seref-Ferlengez, O.D. Kennedy, M.B. Schaffler. Bone microdamage, remodeling and bone fragility: how much damage is too much damage? BoneKEy Reports 4, Article number: 644, 2015.

Z. Seref-Ferlengez, S. Maung, M. B. Schaffler, D. C. Spray, S. O. Suadicani, M. M. Thi.  P2X7R-Panx1 Complex Impairs Bone Mechanosignaling under High Glucose Levels Associated with Type-1 Diabetes., 2016.

D. Frikha-Benayed, J. Basta-Pljakic, R.J. Majeska, M.B. Schaffler. Regional differences in oxidative metabolism and mitochondrial activity among cortical bone osteocytes. Bone 90: 15-22, 2016.

W. Y. Cheung, J. C. Fritton, S. A. Morgan, Z. Seref-Ferlengez, J. Basta-Pljakic, M. M. Thi, S. O. Suadicani, D. C Spray, R. J. Majeska,  M. B Schaffler. Pannexin-1 and P2X7-Receptor Are Required for Apoptotic Osteocytes in Fatigued Bone to Trigger RANKL Production in Neighboring Bystander Osteocytes. . Journal Bone and Mineral Research 31 Issue 4: 892-899, 2016.

P. Cabahug-Zuckerman, D. Frikha-Benayed, R. J. Majeska, A.Tuthill, S. Yakar, M. B. Schaffler. Osteocyte Apoptosis Caused by Hindlimb Unloading is Required to Trigger Osteocyte RANKL Production and Subsequent Resorption of Cortical and Trabecular Bone in Mice Femurs, Journal Bone and Mineral Research 31: 1356–1365, 2016.


Additional Information

Awards & Honors

American Society for Biomechanics, Orthopaedic Research Society, American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, American Association of Anatomists, Sigma Xi, Phi Kappa Phi, AcroMed Award for Outstanding Research, North American Spine Society, Editorial Boards, Journal of Orthopaedic Research (1990 - 2005), BONE, (1990-present), Anatomical Record (2003 - present); Grant review panels: NSF, The Wellcome Trust (UK), Medical Research Council (Canada), Orthopaedic Research Society, NIH-National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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