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Biomechanics of the Female Reproductive System

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

2:30pm – 3:45pm

Virtual via zoom (register by clicking here), Virginia Tech Campus

Kristin Miller

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Tulane University 


The vagina is central to female pelvic support and adapts to dynamic intra-abdominal pressures throughout a woman's lifespan. Structural instability in the vagina and surrounding pelvic organs may lead to significant health problems, such as pelvic organ prolapse. While the etiolagles of these conditions remain unknown, altered elastic fiber content has been implicated. Elastic fibers are present in most soft biological tissues and are critical to tissue function. Loss of elastic fibers may alter tissue adaptation by both mechanical and biochemical pathways, including altered structural integrity and smooth muscle cell phenotype; however, the relationship between elastic fibers and vaginal mechanical properties are not fully elucidated. In this talk, I will present our efforts to delineate the mechanical role of elastic fibers and smooth muscle cells in the murine vagina. I will specifically characterize vaginal mechanical properties using biaxial extension-inflation tests and hyperelastic constitutive models.


Kristin S. Miller is an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Tulane University. Dr. Miller's research interests are focused on the mechanobiology of soft tissue, including evaluating the role of elastic fibers and contractility in the female reproductive system. Before joining Tulane, Dr. Miller conducted postdoctoral research at Yale University and received her Ph.D. in bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2018, Miller was awarded the NSF CAREER award to develop a biomechanical model that can predict how elastic fibers in the soft tissues of the female reproductive system changes in response to mechanical pressure.