Mechanical and nuclear engineering doctoral student’s research honored by ASME Journal of Biomechanical Engineering

Johane Bracamonte
Johane Bracamonte Baran, doctoral student in VCU’s Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering.

An article first-authored by Johane Bracamonte Baran, a doctoral student in VCU’s Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, was named 2020 Editor’s Choice by the Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, a publication of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Bracamonte’s adviser is João Silva Soares, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering.

The article presents a promising new technique to examine the mechanical properties of the aorta. Noninvasive, patient-specific methods of quantifying aorta properties are key to improving clinical risk assessment and scientific understanding of vascular growth and remodeling.

The proposed technique was able to assess aortic elasticity with 60% fewer errors than current methods. It uses an inverse modeling approach paired with a novel boundary condition at the adventitia created by a collection of radially oriented springs with varying stiffness with circumferential distribution.

Soares and John S. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in VCU’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and Pauley Heart Center, are co-authors on the study.

“I'm very excited about receiving this recognition. It is encouraging and further validates the relevance of our research,” Bracamonte said. “We are proposing a simple yet powerful computational approach to estimate the effect of the surroundings on patient-specific aortic wall mechanics. This effect may play an important role in the onset and progression of several cardiovascular pathologies. Our proposed method has the potential to provide a better understanding of this issue.”

The article, titled “Assessing Patient-Specific Mechanical Properties of Aortic Wall and Peri-Aortic Structures From In Vivo DENSE Magnetic Resonance Imaging Using an Inverse Finite Element Method and Elastic Foundation Boundary Conditions,” appeared in the journal’s December 2020 issue. Its designation as an Editor’s Choice paper appeared in the July 2021 issue.

“Johane’s work in my group has been superb, and this recognition is certainly well deserved,” Soares said. “Since his arrival in 2017, he has become instrumental for the establishment of all of our ongoing projects and is the best first Ph.D. advisee I could ever have hoped for. Besides his awarded research work, he has also shown excellent leadership skills mentoring undergraduate students, and has demonstrated the ability to obtain funding support.”