Alan J. Grodzinsky, ScD



Professor of Biological Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus


Musculoskeletal tissue regeneration
Traumatic joint injury
Biology and Biophysics of the extracellular matrix
AFM-based molecular imaging and nanomechanics of extracellular matrix
Tissue-targeted drug delivery for joint diseases


Director, Center for Biomedical Engineering


Professor Alan Grodzinsky attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as an undergraduate, graduating in 1971 with a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Electrical Engineering. He worked with James Melcher (EECS) during his graduate studies at MIT, earning a Ph.D. in 1974 for his work on membrane electromechanics. Grodzinsky has received numerous awards including the NIH Merit Award and is a Founding Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

Image of Professor Grodzinsky's research.


Our group focuses on problems motivated by diseases of the musculoskeletal system including arthritis, connective tissue pathologies and, more generally, the molecular biology and biophysics of the extracellular matrix (ECM). As an example, it is well known that traumatic joint injury in humans causes cartilage degeneration and progression to post-traumatic osteoarthritis, but the mechanobiological mechanisms governing cellular transcription, translation, and post-translational responses to physical overload are not well understood. We use genomic and proteomic tools to identify key pathways associated with mechanical injury and the resulting cell-mediated proteolytic degradation of the ECM. Atomic force microscopy and related biophysical tools are used to image and probe the molecular structure of ECM proteoglycans and proteins synthesized by connective tissue cells in health and disease. Nanoindentation at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels aids in the discovery of molecular determinants underlying tissue pathology. Complementary projects focus on chondrogenesis of stem cells seeded within self-assembling peptide hydrogel scaffolds for repair of degraded or osteoarthritic cartilage. The molecular fine structure of stem cell-synthesized ECM molecules and the responses of these stem cells to physiological loading during and after differentiation are studied in vitro. Concurrent studies using small and large animal models are ongoing. Finally, there are currently no available disease-modifying drugs for osteoarthritis due, in part, to lack of appropriate delivery modalities. We are therefore studying the ability of electrostatic interactions linked to charged ECM molecules within target tissues to enable enhanced uptake, rapid penetration, and retention of potential therapeutics.

Research Areas: 

Honors & Awards: 

Institute for Advanced Studies Professorship, Univ. Western Australia, Perth, 2011-2012
Honorary Doctorate May, 2008, University of Montreal, Canada, 2008
President, Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS), 2007-2008
Honorary Life Member (Fellow) Award, International Cartilage Repair Society, 2007
IEEE/ACM Award for Best Undergraduate Academic Advisor in EECS Dept, MIT, 2005
New Investigator Research Award, Orthop. Res. Soc. to J. Fitzgerald (AJG Supervisor), 2005
New Investigator Research Award, Orthopaedic Res. Soc. to M. Jin (AJG Supervisor), 2002
President, International Cartilage Repair Society, 1999-2000
MIT Class of 1960 Innovation in Education Award (w R. Kamm & L. Griffith), 1999
Melville Medal, ASME, For Best Paper in Mech Eng (all fields), 1997
NIH MERIT Awardfor Research on “Cartilage Metabolic Response to Loading”, 1995-2005
Founding Fellow of AIMBE (American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering), 1993
Kappa Delta Award of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon: Cartilage Mechanobiology, 1993

Selected Publications:

Florine, Emily M., Rachel E. Miller, Paul H. Liebesny, Keri A. Mroszczyk, Richard T. Lee, Parth Patwari, and Alan J. Grodzinsky. "Delivering heparin-binding insulin-like growth factor 1 with self-assembling peptide hydrogels." Tissue Eng Part A 21, no. 3-4 (2015): 637-46.
Kopesky, Paul W., Sangwon Byun, Eric J. Vanderploeg, John D. Kisiday, David D. Frisbie, and Alan J. Grodzinsky. "Sustained delivery of bioactive TGF-β1 from self-assembling peptide hydrogels induces chondrogenesis of encapsulated bone marrow stromal cells." J Biomed Mater Res A 102, no. 5 (2014): 1275-85.
Bajpayee, Ambika G., Cliff R. Wong, Moungi G. Bawendi, Eliot H. Frank, and Alan J. Grodzinsky. "Avidin as a model for charge driven transport into cartilage and drug delivery for treating early stage post-traumatic osteoarthritis." Biomaterials 35, no. 1 (2014): 538-49.
Li, Y, E H. Frank, Y Wang, S Chubinskaya, H-H Huang, and A J. Grodzinsky. "Moderate dynamic compression inhibits pro-catabolic response of cartilage to mechanical injury, tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6, but accentuates degradation above a strain threshold." Osteoarthritis Cartilage 21, no. 12 (2013): 1933-41.
Nia, Hadi Tavakoli, Iman S. Bozchalooi, Yang Li, Lin Han, Han-Hwa Hung, Eliot Frank, Kamal Youcef-Toumi, Christine Ortiz, and Alan Grodzinsky. "High-bandwidth AFM-based rheology reveals that cartilage is most sensitive to high loading rates at early stages of impairment." Biophys J 104, no. 7 (2013): 1529-37.
Zhang, Lihai, David W. Smith, Bruce S. Gardiner, and Alan J. Grodzinsky. "Modeling the Insulin-Like Growth Factor System in Articular Cartilage." PLoS One 8, no. 6 (2013): e66870.