Mitchell B. Schaffler

CUNY Distinguished Professor and Wallace H Coulter Professor

Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Main Affiliation

Biomedical Engineering


Steinman Hall







Schaffler photo

Mitchell B. Schaffler


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

Ph.D., 1985, West Virginia University (Anatomy & Orthopaedic Engineering)

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

Research Interests

  • Bone biomechanics
  • Skeletal fragility, material properties and aging
  • Bone physiology
  • Osteocyte function and mechano-biology
  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Imaging 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 , in vivo microscopy and super-resolution microscopy, cell culture and molecular biology.


Selected Publications

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.

You L-D., 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.

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.

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 Proceedings, National Academy of Sciences. 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. Proceedings, National Academy of Sciences. 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 27:264-273, 2009

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 24:597-605. 2009.

Emerton, K.B., B. Hu, A.A. Woo, A. Sinofsky, C. Hernandez, R.J. Majeska, K.J. Jepsen and  M.B. Schaffler.  Osteocyte apoptosis and control of bone resorption following ovariectomy in mice.  Bone 46(3):577-83, 2010

Herman B.C., L. Cardoso, R.J. Majeska RJ, K.J. Jepsen and M.B. Schaffler. Activation of bone remodeling after fatigue: Differential response to linear microcracks and diffuse damage. Bone. 766-72, 2010.

Schaffler MB, Cheung WY, Majeska R, Kennedy O.  Osteocytes: Master orchestrators of bone.  Calcified Tissue International  94: 5-24, 2014.

Thi M, Suadicani SO, Schaffler MB, Weinbaum S, Spray DC.  Mechanosensory responses of osteocytes to physiological forces occur along processes and not cell body and require αVβ3 integrin. Proceedings, National Academy of Sciences. 110(52): 21012-17, 2013.

Seref-Ferlengez Z, Basta-Pljakic J, Kennedy OD, Philemon CJ, Schaffler MB.  Structural and mechanical repair of diffuse damage in cortical bone in vivo.  Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 29(12) 2537-44, 2014

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

Seref-Ferlengez Z., 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. PLoS One. 2016 May 9;11(5):e0155107.

Frikha-Benayed D., 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.

Cheung W.Y., 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: 892-899, 2016.

Cabahug-Zuckerman P., , 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.

Kaya S, Basta-Pljakic J, Seref-Ferlengez Z, Majeska RJ, Cardoso L, Bromage T, Zhang Q, Flach CR, Mendelsohn R, Yakar S, Fritton SP, Schaffler MB.  Lactation Induced Changes in the Volume of Osteocyte Lacunar-Canalicular Space Alter Mechanical Properties in Cortical Bone Tissue. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 32(4):688-697, 2017

McCutcheon S., Majeska R, Schaffler M, Vazquez M.  A multiscale fluidic device for the study of dendrite-mediated cell to cell communication. Biomedical Microdevices. 2017 19(3): 71. doi: 10.1007/s10544-017-0212-1.

Lewis K.J., Frikha-Benayed D, Louie J, Stephen S, Spray DC, Thi MM, Seref-Ferlengez Z, Majeska RJ, Weinbaum S, Schaffler MB.  Osteocyte calcium signals encode strain magnitude and loading frequency in vivo. Proceedings, National Academy of Sciences. U S A. 114(44):11775-11780, 2017.

Cabahug-Zuckerman P, Stout RF Jr, Majeska RJ, Thi MM, Spray DC, Weinbaum S, Schaffler MB. Potential role for a specialized β3 integrin-based structure on osteocyte processes in bone mechanosensation.  Journal of Orthopaedic Research 35(2) 642-652, 2018

Additional Information

Selected Awards & Honors

Elected Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

Elected Fellow, American Society for Bone and Mineral Research

Elected Fellow, American Association of Anatomists

AcroMed Award for Outstanding Research, North American Spine Society,

Editorial Boards, Journal of Orthopaedic Research (1990 - 2005), BONE, (1990-2010), Anatomical Record (2003 - 2018);

Grant review panels: National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIH), National Science Foundation,  The Wellcome Trust (UK), Medical Research Council (Canada), Orthopaedic Research Society