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Sports Medicine Research Laboratory

Musculoskeletal soft tissues such as cartilage, tendon, meniscus and ligament are composite biological structures that serve vital mechanical functions during activities of daily living. The primary focus of the Sports Medicine Research Laboratory is study of the structure, function, injury and repair of these connective tissues.

Our laboratory mission is to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of sports-related injuries through translational research studies which elucidate the biomechanical, morphologic and biologic properties of skeletal joints and associated soft connective tissues in their normal, injured, and healing states.

Our work

Laboratory research studies performed within the Division of Sports Medicine are directed by Elizabeth F. Shewman, MS, in collaboration with Nikhil Verma, MD, director of sports medicine research.

All studies are conducted in close collaboration with sports medicine physicians at Rush, and frequently with faculty from other basic science and clinical departments (e.g., biochemistry, anatomy and cell biology, radiology).

Ongoing investigations can be broadly categorized as follows:

  • Quantitative, 3D anatomic studies for the refinement of surgical techniques (e.g., orientation of bone tunnels for ACL reconstruction)
  • Biomechanical studies of the stability and strength afforded by surgical fixation techniques (e.g., comparison of different biologic graft materials and hardware for tissue repair; assessment of joint contact pressures and 3D joint kinematics following simulated pathology and surgical repair)
  • Preclinical, industry-sponsored studies (e.g., evaluation of therapeutic devices, drugs, or tissue engineering strategies needed for FDA approval)
  • Assessment of microscopic, biologic and biomechanical properties of normal, injured, and healing musculoskeletal soft tissues using animal models (e.g., to assess roles of specific tissue matrix proteins and/or surgical repair techniques on the quality of healing)
  • Development and application of noninvasive imaging techniques for quantitative assessment of tissue structure and integrity


  • MTS Insight 5 electromechanical testing system with dedicated personal computer and software
  • SpicaTek digital video imaging system for optical strain measurement; utilized in conjunction with MTS machine
  • Biaxial (linear and torque) hydraulic materials testing machine (Instron 8874) with dedicated PC and software
  • Four-camera infrared motion tracking system (Motion Analysis Corp.) for 3D kinematic measurements; utilized in conjunction with Instron machine
  • Custom test fixtures for assessment of joint kinematics/pressures and compression/tensile material testing of soft tissue grafts
  • Microscribe MX portable 3D coordinate measuring machine (Immersion Corp.)
  • Laser displacement sensor (Keyence Corp.)
  • NextEngine 2020i high-resolution laser scanner


  • Major League Baseball Charities
  • AOSSM Young Investigator Award
  • Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA)
  • Allosource
  • Arthrex
  • Smith & Nephew
  • Stryker
  • Rush University Medical Center Department of Orthopedics
  • Rush University Medical Center Section of Sports Medicine

Our team

Clinical faculty

Affiliated engineering faculty

Research engineer

  • Elizabeth F. Shewman, MS

Contact us

Email Elizabeth F. Shewman