Dawn Elliott, Ph.D

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2013
For outstanding contributions to the field of biomechanics, elucidating the mechanical factors that contribute to intervertebral disc degeneration.

Dawn Elliott honored by Orthopaedic Research Society

Via University of Delaware | February 15, 2019

Some professors shine most brightly in the lab. Others are particularly excellent mentors, inspiring students and other faculty members to reach new heights in their careers. Then, there are those who excel at both.

Dawn Elliott, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware, is being recognized as one of those multitalented academics. Elliott, a Blue and Gold Professor of Biomedical Engineering, is the inaugural recipient of the Orthopaedic Research Society’s Adele L. Boskey, PhD Award.

“The University of Delaware Department of Biomedical Engineering started only eight years ago, and we have already had tremendous research and discovery impact on health and disease,” said Elliott. “Moreover, we are educating the next generation of biomedical engineers who will go on the make the world a healthy place and improve the quality of people’s lives… Continue reading.

UD biomedical engineering chair to lead national organization

Via U Daily | September 13, 2017

As president of the Biomedical Engineering Society, Dawn Elliott will focus on education

Dawn Elliott, chair of the University of Delaware’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, has been elected president of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). Founded in 1968, this professional society for biomedical engineering and bioengineering has more than 7,000 members.

As president, Elliott plans to launch an initiative to study biomedical engineering education. She wants to conduct market research to find out how industry professionals perceive biomedical engineering students and how academic biomedical engineering departments can optimize student success.

This is important because biomedical engineering and bioengineering are relatively new compared to other engineering disciplines, such as electrical and mechanical engineering. For example, ABET—the accrediting body for engineering programs—accredited its first biomedical engineering department in 1972, four decades after they started accrediting engineering departments.

In 2011, Elliott came to UD as the founding director and sole primary faculty member of the biomedical engineering program, which achieved departmental status and received national accreditation four years later. The department now has 17 primary and joint faculty, 45 affiliates, and a doctoral degree program. Recent graduates have landed jobs at firms such as Johnson & Johnson and Siemens or continued their education at graduate schools such as Columbia University, Stanford University, and the University of Pennsylvania… Continue reading.

New named professor

Via U Daily | May 11, 2017

Engineering’s Dawn Elliott named Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor

Dawn Elliott, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware, has been named Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering.

“Under Dawn’s leadership, biomedical engineering at the University of Delaware has grown from a small program to a thriving department with a team of very talented young faculty who are winning grants and publishing in high-quality journals,” says Babatunde Ogunnaike, dean of the College of Engineering.

“At the same time, Dawn has continued to develop her own thriving research program, which focuses on the biomechanics of orthopaedic soft tissues. She is well respected in the community at large both for her scholarship and for her leadership. I can’t think of anyone who is more deserving of this honor than Dawn.”

Elliott came to the University of Delaware in 2011 after spending 12 years on the faculty in orthopedic surgery and bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. She joined UD as the founding director and sole primary faculty member of the biomedical engineering program, which achieved departmental status and received national accreditation four years later.

The department now has 17 primary and joint faculty and another 45 affiliates, a doctoral degree program, and a U.S. News and World Report ranking in the upper 50 percent of programs across the country… Continue reading.

Cartilage micromechanics

Via U Daily | January 4, 2016

Research shows that tiny non-fibrous regions within fibrous tissue affect behavior

Injury and degeneration of fibro-cartilaginous tissues, such as the knee meniscus and the intervertebral disc, have significant socioeconomic and quality-of-life costs. But the development of effective treatment strategies to address pathologies in these load-bearing tissues has been hindered by a lack of understanding of the relationships between their structure and their function.

Now, a team of researchers from the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania has shed new light on this issue, laying the foundation for better treatment of injuries such as meniscus tears as well as new therapies for osteoarthritis and age-related degeneration.

Their findings are reported in a paper, “Microstructural Heterogeneity Directs Micromechanics and Mechanobiology in Native and Engineered Fibrocartilage,” published online in Nature Materials on Jan. 4.

Dawn Elliott, professor and chair of UD’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, explains that fibro-cartilaginous tissues are primarily made up of long, aligned fibers that confer strength and stiffness. It turns out, however, that they also have small non-fibrous regions, known as microdomains, that behave very differently from the fibrous areas.

“Our first question when we saw these microdomains was ‘Are they normal, or are they associated with pathology?’” Elliott says… Continue reading.

Biomedical engineering milestones

Via U Daily | September 8, 2015

Biomedical engineering program accredited, granted departmental status

The biomedical engineering (BME) program at the University of Delaware recently reached two important milestones: accreditation by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) and approval for departmental status by the UD Faculty Senate.

The BME program, developed by a steering committee led by Tom Buchanan and composed of faculty from all engineering departments, was launched in 2010 with mechanical engineering’s Jill Higginson as the first director.

In 2011, Dawn Elliott became the director and first primary faculty member. Now department chair, Elliott has continued to develop affiliated faculty appointments across the university, implement the new undergraduate program, and launch the graduate program.

“The undergraduate program has been extremely popular since the very beginning,” Elliott says. “Our incoming classes are capped at 55 students, and unfortunately we’re having to turn away outstanding applicants every year… Continue reading.

Backbone of the profession

Via U Daily | May 19, 2015

Elliott receives national awards for research, mentoring in biomedical engineering

Intervertebral discs are the spine’s shock absorbers. With age, they undergo progressive and irreversible degenerative changes that often lead to low back pain. Surgical treatment options for this condition are extremely limited and they don’t restore disc function, so there is tremendous interest in new treatments such as surgical repair and tissue engineering.

Dawn Elliott, chair of biomedical engineering at the University of Delaware, has been studying the biomechanical function of intervertebral discs and other orthopedic soft tissues for the past 20 years using mathematical models, mechanical tests and advanced imaging technologies.

“We want to develop a better understanding of tissue function as well as the mechanisms for degeneration, injury and healing,” Elliott says. “Our hope is that the detailed knowledge of material behaviors we gain through this work will provide a foundation for the development and evaluation of new therapies for disc problems.”

Elliott’s accomplishments were recently recognized when the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) awarded her the Van C. Mow Medal for contributions to the field of bioengineering.

She was cited for significantly advancing the field of biomedical engineering through her contributions in musculoskeletal tissue structure-function research, her student mentorship with a focus on mentoring women, and her leadership in the bioengineering division of ASME… Continue reading.