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Research Area: Human Health

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Where mechanics meets medicine

With over 200 medical device companies within 20 miles and three top-tier hospitals within walking distance, the Stanford campus provides a unique setting for medical innovation.

Many faculty and students working in human health/Biomechanical Engineering are developing a combination of strong mechanical skills with a working understanding of biological and/or medical systems and processes. Investigations range from exploring how cells sense their environment and interact, to designing the next generation of medical equipment and joint replacements. Biomechanical Engineering research encompasses not only fundamental scientific questions but also the endeavors which will bring discoveries to hospitals, clinics and society as a whole to improve general health, well-being and quality of life.

Human Health is central to the department’s efforts in exploring the mechanics-biomedicine interface and developing innovative solutions for this rapidly growing area. In addition, many students working in all of the Mechanical Engineering groups (Design; Thermofluids, Energy, and Propulsion Systems; Flow Physics and Computation; and Mechanics and Computation) have substantial research efforts in the area of biological systems.

Biomechanical Engineering Program >

Human Health Research Highlights


Assistant Professor Renee Zhao’s lab is developing biomedical robots powered by magnets and inspired by the movement of octopus arms – generally regarded as one of the most flexible limbs in nature.

Postdoctoral researcher Caitlyn Seim takes measurements with a participant in the clinical trial

Vibrating glove helps stroke patients recover from muscle spasms

For those with stroke, involuntary contractions of the hands and arms often follow. A simple, wearable vibrating glove may offer a more effective treatment.

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OpenCap: Sophisticated human biomechanics from smartphone video

With synchronous video from a pair of smartphones, engineers at Stanford have created an open-source motion-capture app that democratizes the once-exclusive science of human movement – at 1% of the cost.

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A 3D bioprinter in the Skylar-Scott lab prints a sample of heart tissue.

Moonshot effort aims to bioprint a human heart and implant it in pig

Advances in the 3D printing of living tissue – a field known as bioprinting – puts within reach the possibility of fabricating whole organs from scratch and implanting them in living beings. 

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