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. "Trabecular architecture of the mandibular condyle of rabbits is related to dietary resistance during growth" Terhune, C.E.; Sylvester, A.D.; Scott, J.E.; Ravosa, M.J. J Exp Biol., 2020, 223(Pt 7), jeb220988.  (cover image)
  2. "Masticatory loading and ossification of the mandibular symphysis during anthropoid origins" Ravosa, M.J.; Vinyard, C.J Sci Rep. 2020, 10(1), 5950. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-62025-8. PMID: 32249773.
  3. "Modeling the effect of ascites-induced compression on ovarian cancer multicellular aggregates" Klymenko, Y.; Wates, R.B.; Weiss-Bilka, H.E; Lombard, R.; Liu, Y.; Campbell, L.; Kim, O.; Wagner, D.; Ravosa, M.J.; Stack, M.S. Dis Model Mech. 2018, 11(9), e1345. 
  4. "Dietary variation and mechanical properties of articular cartilage in the temporomandibular joint: Implications for the role of plasticity in mechanobiology and pathobiology" Ravosa, M.J.; Kane, R.J. Zoology 2017, 124, 42-50.