Matthew Ravosa

Professor of Biology; Concurrent Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering; Concurrent Professor of Anthropology


221 Galvin Life Science Center

Research Cluster

Imaging & Structure

Mechanobiology, Development and Pathobiology of Connective Tissues

With an eye to both the evolutionary and translational implications, we investigate the plasticity, function, evolution, ecomorphology, aging, pathobiology and performance of the musculoskeletal system. We marshal diverse and non-traditional sources of evidence to address outstanding issues concerning the complex underpinnings of patterns of phenotypic variation. We use a broad range of cell biological, molecular, engineering and imaging techniques, typically via recourse to novel experimental and animal models. Thus, we are a highly collaborative lab with an integrative perspective that works with diverse scientists in organismal biology and bioengineering.

We have developed a rabbit model of long-term dietary plasticity in cranial hard- and soft-tissues, which is generating data on load-induced changes in protein and gene expression patterns of cartilage and bone properties. Characterization of the dietary correlates of cyclical loading, one of two primary determinants of bone formation, is detailing similarities and differences in tissue responses across the skeleton. We are also developing a mouse model of skull osteoblast mechanobiology, which has major implications for understanding bone formation during growth, craniofacial dysmorphologies and the evolution of the remarkably large brain in humans. Investigating the dynamic links among skeletal safety factors, masticatory stresses and bone formation serves to highlight basic similarities and differences in loading patterns among vertebrate skulls and limbs. Clinically, such evidence is important for characterizing strain-mediated responses necessary for mimicking the natural growth activity of connective tissues. Finally, we are developing a rabbit model of osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), a debilitating oral disease associated with long-term bisphosphonate therapy used in treating bone metastases and osteoporosis in a clinical context. In examining the pathogenesis of ONJ in oral soft and hard tissues, the ultimate goal of our imaging, cell biological and macroscale tests of tissue properties is to develop early detection and treatment strategies for preventing a painful disease related to standard care for bone cancer metastases.


  1. "Limitations of a morphological criterion of adaptive inference in the fossil record" Ravosa, M.J.; Menegaz, R.A.; Scott, J.E.; Daegling, D.J.; McAbee, K.R. Biological Rev. 2016, 91(4), 883-898.
  2. "Chewed out: An experimental link between food mechanical properties and repetitive loading of the masticatory apparatus in mammals" Ravosa, M.J.; Scott, J.E.; McAbee, K.R.; Veit, A.J.; Fling, A.L. PeerJ 2015, 3, e1345.
  3. "Differential limb loading in miniature pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus): A test of chondral modeling theory" Congdon, K.A.; Hammond, A.S.; Ravosa, M.J. J. Exp. Biol. 2012, 215, 1472-1483.
  4. "Masticatory loading, function, and plasticity: A microanatomical analysis of mammalian circumorbital soft-tissue structures" Jasarevic, E.; Ning, J.; Daniel, A.N.; Menegaz, R.A.; Johnson, J.J.; Stack, M.S.; Ravosa, M.J. Anatomical Record 2010, 293A, 642-650.
  5. "Allometry of masticatory loading parameters in mammals" Ravosa, M.J.; Ross, C.F.; Williams, S.H.; Costley, D.B. Anatomical Record 2010, 293A, 557-571.