ESBiomech24 Congress in Edinburgh

ESBiomech Newsletter Autumn 2012

We are pleased to present our new on-line European Society of Biomechanics newsletter within our new website. We continue increasing the Newsletter functionality and the ability to do more adventurous things so please contact us with ideas of items you would like to see on our website and newsletter and these will be considered as the society continues to expand. If you do not wish to receive mailings including the newsletter and other updates from the European Society of Biomechanics you can update your settings in the membership section of the website here:

For a printed version of the newsletter click the link below to view the newsletter in your internet browser and use the browser’s print function.

I hope you find the newsletter useful and informative.

MªAngeles Pérez –



Message from the President


19th Congress of the European Society of Biomechanics 25-28th August, Patras Greece

Award Announcements

Meeting Announcements:

2nd Meeting of the Spanish National Chapter

11th International Symposium on Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering

Report on the 18th Congress of the ESB

Prizes and Honors Awarded at the 18th Congress of the ESB

New Council Members for the ESB


Historical Perspective Article: Richard Scherb (Orthopaedic Surgeon and Muscle Physiologist) by Hilaire Jacob et al.



Student’s corner

Membership news

Treasurer’s Report

Society News

Summary of the 2nd Meeting of the Italian Chapter of the ESB

Special Book Offer exclusive to ESB members


Message from the President

About ESB congresses and more…

Hans Van Oosterwyck, ESB president

The ESB congress is the heart of the ESB community. This has been the case for more than thirty years now – thirty-four to be precise – and it is clear that we want to keep it this way. There are at least two reasons why ESB2012, the 18th Congress of the European Society of Biomechanics, that was organized last Summer in Lisbon, was special. The first reason clearly has to do with its success: ESB2012 was the largest ESB congress ever and over 750 participants attended (see the report). Needless to say, this demonstrates that biomechanics in Europe is vibrant, and that interest in biomechanical research is still increasing. Increasing numbers of participants necessitate an even stronger commitment of the local organizing committee as well as an efficient and transparent communication between the local organisers and the ESB Council. I find it a real pleasure to thank Paulo Fernandes, João Folgado and Miguel Tavares da Silva, chairmen of this congress, and their team for their dedication, professional organization and hospitality. As with every ESB congress, the combination of the high level of scientific content and the local flavour turned it into an experience that one will not easily forget.

The second reason has to do with the fact that ESB2012 was the last of a series of biennial congresses, the first one being organized in 1978 in Brussels by Franz Burny, one of our founding members. Indeed, inspired by the Society’s constant growth, it was decided three years ago by the Council that a Society of this size deserves an annual congress. For our student members, this has the advantage of offering twice as many opportunities for presenting their work and getting feedback from an international community of biomechanics experts, for establishing a research network and for entering awards competitions, such as the ESB Student award and the Best Doctoral Thesis award – so please make good use of it! All these aspects are crucial for career building, regardless of whether this is within or outside academia. Last but not least, we as a Council truly hope that it will strengthen the sense of belonging to a community, an aspect we feel is very important for the Society’s vitality. Of course, there is also a downside, especially for more senior scientists: it means that within our already busy agenda, we need to reserve some time to go to the ESB congress once every year, and not every two years. Again, we hope that our members do not perceive the ESB congress as ‘just another congress’ among the many congresses for which one receives invitations in his or her mailbox, but instead as ‘the one and only annual congress’ that one must not miss out on.

Having said this, I want to encourage you to take part in ESB2013 and come to Patras on 25-28 August (see also the call), in this way demonstrating that biomechanics in Europe indeed needs this annual platform for meeting and discussing with colleagues and ‘friends in science’. I am sure that our Greek colleagues, and in particular Yannis Missirlis and his organising team, will delight us with a great scientific experience in a very enjoyable local setting – the first time in history that ESB will move to Hellas!

In fact, this will not be the only congress-related break with the past during this presidency. In 2014, again for the first time the ESB congress will not take place in Europe, but instead will be merged with the World Congress of Biomechanics (WCB2014) that takes place in Boston. It will not be the first time that ESB and WCB join forces (as this also happened 2006, when WCB was organized in Munich by Dieter Liepsch), but it is certainly the first time that we have to cross the Atlantic to attend the joint meeting. Rather than competing with WCB2014, the previous Council, after consulting with the membership, felt we should stimulate European biomechanicians to take part in this major event, in this way creating additional opportunities for the visibility of European biomechanics research outside Europe. An agreement has been drafted by Damien Lacroix, previous ESB president, and Rodger Kamm, the chair of WCB2014, to further promote the participation of ESB at WCB, such as the nomination of a European Program Co-Chair (in the person of Stephen Ferguson, who is also the chair of the EAMBES Committee within the ESB Council), the reservation of a third of the total budget of WCB Student awards to European students and the presentation of major ESB awards (Huiskes Medal, Perren Research award) in a plenary session. Similar to ESB2012 (and ESB2013) the ESB membership fee will be incorporated in the congress fee of WCB2014. It is up to the new Council to make sure this will be implemented properly…and to you to turn this into a scientific success!

The incorporation of the membership fee into the congress fee brings me to another important task for this Council, which is the clarification and simplification of the fee payment procedure. The ESB2012 congress was the first ESB congress where ESB members could extend their membership by registering to the congress, i.e. the membership fee was part of the total registration fee. The practical implementation was still not perfect, mainly because at the moment there is no direct link between the congress registration site – which up to now was always provided by the local congress organiser – and the ESB member database. Within the next two years the Council , together with the web developer CookandKaye, will work hard to provide an integrated web solution for managing membership and congress registration, which must be operational by the time ESB2015 will take place. Unfortunately, we will not be able to already offer this solution for ESB2013 or WCB2014 (the latter for obvious reasons). Nevertheless, the new Council is already implementing a new fee model that should avoid some of the confusion that was encountered during ESB2012. I invite you to the read Bill Taylor’s contribution – our new treasurer – that explains this model.

I realize that by emphasing here on decisions that were already taken by the previous Council, you might get the (false) impression that the new Council is only here to implement these decisions. I can assure you that this will not be the case and that this Council is ready to rock, which among others involves further improving the Newsletter format, defining new activities for student members as well as benefits for all membership categories, interacting with EAMBES, our national chapters and other scientific societies, consolidating our affiliated journal and meetings programme as well as our awards programme etc. In order to further shape these ideas the Council will have its first meeting beginning of December, so I am sure you will hear about us. For those of you who are not yet familiar with the new faces – or who have forgotten about the ‘old’ faces – , please have a look on the Council section, where the new Council is being presented. In particular I want to welcome the newly elected members Hanna Isaksson, Maria Angeles Pérez, Luca Cristofolini and Paulo Fernandes. Welcoming new Council members obviously means that one has to say goodbye to an equal number of Council members: Damien Lacroix (former President), José Manuel García Aznar (former vice president), who both completed two terms on the Council, Gabriele Dubini (former secretary general) and Dominique Pioletti (former chair of the membership committee), who both completed one term. I would like to thank all of them for their tremendous efforts and dedication to the Society, in such a way that running the Society businesses as smoothly and efficiently as they did is becoming a real challenge!

In conclusion, it is a privilege to serve a Society that is doing so well, both in terms of membership as well as congress participation. Obviously, there are a number of challenges ahead of us, but I am sure we will be able to tackle them as a team. Of course, if you would have ideas or comments or like to get involved as well, we would be happy to hear from you.


19th Congress of the European Society of Biomechanics 25-28th August, Patras Greece

Call for Abstracts: Deadline January 31st, 2013

The European Society of Biomechanics cordially invites you to attend the 19th Congress of the European Society of Biomechanics (ESB) which will be held in Patras, a beautiful commercial hub located in northern Peloponnese. The meeting will cover all the ESB’s core topics while including emerging research areas in which much new and exciting biomechanics research is taking place.

The event will open on Sunday, August 25th, with two pre ­courses of interest to graduate students, post-docs, and young researchers: Wavelet analysis of biological signals and Nanomechanics of cells-tissues-biomaterials. The main Congress programme will span from Monday, August 26th to Wednesday, August 28th and will feature different tracks of presentations from delegates. Plenary sessions are planned to address current challenges in biomechanics research, and to provide valuable insight into the ever-increasing importance of collaborative research. Confirmed plenary speakers include Prof. Reinhard Blickhan, Prof. Evan Evans, and Prof. Peter Kohl. Based on the previous editions, it is expected that the ESB2013 Congress will have a strong impact on the development of biomechanics, identifying emerging areas of research, promoting the collaboration between participants and industry members, providing information on interdisciplinary programs, EU funding opportunities and biomechanical education programs.

Key Dates

January 31st, 2013: Submission of abstracts
March 31st, 2013: Notification of abstracts
May 30th, 2013: Early registration deadline

Abstract submission

Authors are invited to submit their contirbutions on any of the congress topics. The submission of abstracts and congress registration should be performed via the website

Conference proceedings will be published online at the ESB webpage.

Registration fees

Early registration until the 30th of May is advised to benefit from the congress reduced fee. The registration fee covers admission to the scientific sessions, congress bag with proceedings, coffee breaks and light lunches, cheese & wine evenings, and welcome reception. The Congress registration fee also includes a One-year ESB membership, valid until the end of 2014 (for ESB members who have paid their 2013 membership fee) or the end of 2013 (for non-members willing to apply for ESB membership, under the condition that it is approved by the ESB Council); more information will be available during registration. More detailed information available at the Congress webpage.

Social Events

The opening ceremony, on Sunday evening will include a cultural event along with appropriate presentation and a nice reception.
Monday evening-night a “student event” with appropriate food-drinks-music-dancing will take place near the congress site, in the open.
Special excursions/tours, pre- and post-congress can be arranged by the professional organizers (details in the webpage).
The congress gala dinner is expected to be a “real” SYMPOSIUM.

ESB2013 Conference Organising Committee:

Award Announcements

One way in which ESB promotes excellence in Biomechanics is by recognition of outstanding members with prestigious awards given at the ESB Congress. Further information is available at: For enquiries and award submission contact the chair of the Awards Committee: Dr. P. Zioupos:

All awards have a deadline of January 31st, 2013, unless otherwise stated.

Huiskes Medal for Biomechanics: The most prestigious award of the ESB, given to senior researchers, who have contributed significantly to biomechanics throughout their careers, nominated by at least two ESB members. The awardee will be presented with a medal and requested to provide an award keynote lecture at the ESB Congress.

ESB Clinical Biomechanics Award: Established by the ESB with the purpose of fostering the application of biomechanics to clinically oriented problems. Four award finalists will be selected to present in a special session at the ESB Congress. The first author of the winning paper will receive a certificate and €1000 donated by Elsevier Science Ltd.

Best Doctoral Thesis in Biomechanics: Candidates who have had their Ph.D. defence between December 1st  2011 and January 31st 2013 can submit an application; selection will be based on the Ph.D. thesis (written in English) and CV. The winner will present a keynote lecture at the ESB Congress and receive an honorarium of €2,000.

ESB Student Awards: One first prize and three runner-up awards will be given to students selected from eligible submitted abstracts. The award consists of a certificate for each winner, €1000 for the first prize and €250 for the runners-up donated by Elsevier Science Ltd.

ESB Poster Award: All the original paper submitted and accepted for poster presentation at an ESB Congress are eligible. The award consists of a certificate for the winner and an amount of 300 € donated by Bertec Corporation.

ESB Travel Awards: For ESB student members or who have not more than 5 years post doctoral experience and have a paper accepted for the ESB Congress. The award consists of a certificate and an amount of 400 € to be used for travel to attend the ESB Congress. Deadline: April 14th 2013.

Meeting Announcements:

2nd Meeting of the Spanish National Chapter

The second Meeting of the Spanish National Chapter will be held in Seville on 25th October 2012 at the ETS Ingenieros. The meeting will gather the Spanish members of the ESB who will have the opportunity to present their research. Moreover, two special sessions will be held: – A special session about technology transfer in biomechanics, in which companies and centers of technology are invited to present their work. – A round table involving clinicians and engineers/researchers in Biomechanics.

Both sessions aim at supporting technology transfer activities as a response to previous discussions at General Assembly of the Chapter in Zaragoza.

More information about the second Meeting of the ESB Spanish National Chapter is available at:

11th International Symposium on Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering

April 3-7, 2013, Marriott City Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Chair:  Jeffrey Weiss, University of Utah

Co-Chair:  Gerard Ateshian, Columbia University

INVITATION & Submission of Abstracts

We are pleased to invited both new and previous participants of the CMBBE Symposia series to submit abstracts to CMBBE2013.  We welcome submissions that focus on the topics listed below, as well as innovative developments in both theoretical and applied biosimulation:

DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS – December 14th, 2012

ACCEPTANCE OF ABSTRACTS – January 14th, 2013

Abstracts should be submitted in pdf format only, and should be formatted to a length of 2 pages or less, with two columns per page.  Abstracts should include the following sections:  Title, Authors, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Acknowledgments, References.  Abstracts will be reviewed on a continuous basis in order to speed up the acceptance process.


There will be a discount of 10% on the registration fee for students and regular ESB members.

Report on the 18th Congress of the ESB

by Paulo Fernandes

The 18th Congress of the European Society of Biomechanics was held in Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal, from 1st to 4th July 2012, organized by Paulo Fernandes, João Folgado, Miguel Silva, Helder Rodrigues, Jorge Ambrósio, Eduardo Borges Pires, Fernando Simões e Jorge Martins, all from IST.

The Lisbon congress was a very successful event both from the scientific and social perspective, which gathered about 750 delegates. It opened on Sunday 1st July with two pre-courses, one on Movement Biomechanics and other on Cell Biomechanics and Mechanobiology. The course on Movement Biomechanics was organized by Prof. Jorge Ambrósio and Prof. Miguel Silva who were also the lecturers on this course. This course counts with a very interesting practical component using the Lisbon Biomechanics Laboratory (LBL) facilities. The course on Cell Biomechanics and Mechanobiology was organized by Prof. Christopher Jacobs and Prof. Paulo Fernandes and has as lecturers Prof. Christopher Jacobs, Prof. Xavier Trepat, Prof. Ben Fabry, Prof. Peter Butler and Prof. Sanjay Kumar. These two courses of great interest for graduate students, post-docs and young researchers counted with a considerable number of participants, about 40 for each course.

Pre-course on Movement Biomechanics at the LBL facilities

The main program, from Monday to Wednesday, included 460 oral presentations arranged in 10 parallel sessions, and 195 poster presentations, and it covered a wide range of scientific and clinically-relevant topics. All abstracts are published online as a supplement of Journal of Biomechanics (Vol 45, Supp 1, July 2012).

ESB2012 – opening session

Three plenary sessions, offered by Prof. Gerhard Holzapfel, Prof. Ton van den Bogert and Prof. James Iatridis, addressed current challenges in biomechanics. Prof. Holzapfel talked about multi-scale modeling of cardiovascular tissues, Prof. van den Bogert presented models for analysis and prediction of human movement and Prof. Iatridis discussed the biomechanics, mechanobiology and injury in degenerating intervertebral discs.

Some members of the Society were recognized in five Award sessions. It should be emphasized the Huiskes Medal Award attributed to Prof. Georg Bergmann. This Award was attributed for the first time at this Congress.

The social events were a great contribution to the success of the Congress. Three main moments should be remembered: the welcome reception on Sunday, the students evening on Monday and the Congress banquet on Tuesday. The students evening started with a talk by Roland Kebel (senior manager R&D, Stryker) on “Key insights when embarking on a career in the Medical Device Industry” and ended with an tasteful barbecue with live music. The Congress banquet was held in a venue on the left bank of river Tagus with an unique view over the city of Lisbon.

Students Evening
Lisbon. View of the Cristo Rei.

The industrial exhibition with twenty promotional stands also contributed to the success of the congress. Many thanks to the conference sponsors: AMTI, BOSE, CGD, C-MOTION, CONTEMPLAS, DELSYS, ECSS, ELSEVIER, GAMEIROS, KISTLER, MATERIALISE, MRA, MTS, MYON PROPHYSICS, NDI, NEXTMUSE, PLUX, QUALISYS, ROUTLEDGE, ROYAL SOCIETY PUBLISHING, RSSCAN, SAWBONES, SENSIX, TAYLOR & FRANCIS, TIMBERLAKE, VANTEC, VICON.

Industrial exhibition

More photos of the ESB2012 are available on

Prizes and Honors Awarded at the 18th Congress of the ESB

by J. M. García-Aznar, Peter Zioupos and MªAngeles Pérez
Huiskes Medal for Biomechanics

Georg Bergmann was awarded with the Huiskes Medal for Biomechanics by his trajectory in the Biomechanics field. Prof. Dr. Georg Bergmann was born 1947 in Berlin. He studied mechanical and medical engineering at the Technical University in Berlin. 1974 he started his research activities at the Oskar-Helene-Heim, the Orthopaedic Clinic of the Free University of Berlin. After obtaining a Dr.-Ing. degree in 1981 he worked at the Harvard Medical School in 1982/83. 1995 he obtained the German postdoctoral qualification and is Professor at the Charité since 2003. Together with Prof. Dr. Georg N. Duda he founded the Julius Wolff Institute in 2007, where the research activities of both groups are joined in an ideal way.

Georg Bergmann

From the beginning on Prof. Georg Bergmann has concentrated his activities on the field of orthopaedic biomechanics, according to his belief that really important research results can only be achieved by such a specialization. Since 1980 he worked on the idea to measure the loading of joint implants by using integrated sensors, an inductive power supply and telemetric data transmission. With regard to the state of technology existing at that time, this was a big technological challenge and had never before been achieved in a larger number of patients and over a longer period of time. After several years of development the first instrumented hip endoprosthesis was implanted in a patient in 1988. Since then the technology has steadily been improved. Currently loading studies are performed on hip joints, knee joints, shoulder joints, and at spine implants. They fundamentally contribute to further improve joint replacement, advancing fracture treatment, giving advice to patients, and deepen the general understanding of mechanical loads acting in the human body. The main goal of Georg Bergmann was to make three decades of hardly repeatable research work available to the public and other research groups by facilitating access to a huge number of load measurements from the internet data base This data collection is steadily expanding.

S.M. Perren Research Award

Stephen D. Thorpe, Conor T. Buckley, Andrew J. Steward, Daniel J. Kelly.  “The external mechanical environment can override the influence of local substrate in determining stem cell fate”. The authors submitted an outstanding research work that was widely executed and well presented, clearly worthy of the S.M. Perren Award, the most prestigious Award of the European Society of Biomechanics. The aim of this study was to explore how cell–matrix interactions and extrinsic mechanical signals interact to determine stem cell fate in response to transforming growth factor-β3 (TGF-β3). The temporal data presented in this study highlights the importance of considering how MSCs respond to extrinsic mechanical signals in the long term.

Stephen D. Thorpe

The SM Perren Award paper has been available online since 11 October 2012 in the Journal of Biomechanics, Volume 45, Issue 15, Pages 2483-2728, doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.07.024

ESB Clinical Biomechanics Award

The ESB Clinical Biomechanics Award was established by ESB with the purpose of fostering the application of Biomechanics to clinically oriented problems. This year the winner was:

Alina Levchuk , Alexander Zwahlen , Claudia Weigt, Sandro D. Badilatti, Friederike A. Schulte, Ralph Müller. “Large scale simulations of trabecular bone adaptation to loading and treatment”.

Best Doctoral thesis in Biomechanics

Sandra Loerakker

The Best Doctoral Thesis in Biomechanics is a new award in 2012 with which the ESB recognizes the development of an outstanding doctoral final thesis that has contributed to the advancement of the theory and/or applications of Biomechanics. The winner was Sandra Loerakker. “The relative contributions of muscle deformation and ischaemia to pressure ulcer development”  from Technische Universiteit Eindhoven. Supervisors: F.P.T. Baaijens and prof.dr. D.L. Bader.

ESB Student Award

The ESB Student Awards were instituted by Professor Marie-Christine Ho Ba Tho at the 1998 Congress in Toulouse, France, with the purpose to honor excellence in biomechanics already at a relatively young age. 2012 ESB Student Award was for Aurélie Carlier with the work entitled “Tip cells at the top: a multiscale model of sprouting angiogenesis”, the rest of the authors were Liesbet Geris and Hans Van Oosterwyck.

Aurélie Carlier

Best Poster Award

The ESB Poster Award is given at each ESB Congress with the purpose of raising the quality of poster presentations at the meeting. 2012 ESB Poster Award was for the work entitled: “Mechanical stretch induced calcium efflux from bone matrix stimulates osteoblasts”, Xuanhao Sun, Eric McLamore, Vipuil Kishore, Kateri Fites, Marshall Porterfield, Ozan Akkus

ESB Travel Awards

ESB Travel Awards are given to the worthiest applicants based on the selection made by the ESB Award Committee. The purpose of the Travel Awards is to allow young researchers to participate at the ESB Congress. The winners this year were:

Some of the winners of the ESB Travel Award 2012

New Council Members for the ES

Four new council members were elected at the European Society of Biomechanics Annual General Meeting 2012 and two members were re-elected. The new council unanimously elected Hans van Oosterwyck as the new president of the ESB and some members took up new posts within the council.

New council members

Here we introduce the role of each council member, more details on their background can be found in the Council Section of the ESB web page.

President: Hans Van Oosterwyck

Vice President and Awards Committee: Peter Zioupos

Secretary-General: Gwendolen Reilly

Treasurer: William Taylor

EAMBES Committee: Stephen Ferguson

Society and Chapter Liaison Committee: Anita Ignatius

Meetings Committee: Paulo Rui Alves Fernandes

Membership Committee: Luca Cristofolini

Publication Committee: Maria Ángeles Pérez Ansón

Education and Student Committee: Hanna Isaksson

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ARTICLE: Richard Scherb (Orthopaedic Surgeon and Muscle Physiologist) by Hilaire Jacob et al.

We are pleased to introduce a new section in the newsletter where our eminent senior members contribute review or historical perspectives article. We are conscious that some of the key early events and advances in Biomechanics are no longer discussed and the next generation of biomechanicians may miss out on this wealth of knowledge and expertise. We will ask Huiskes Medal winners for their contributions from our Honorary and senior members.

Richard Scherb

Orthopaedic Surgeon and Muscle Physiologist

(Read at the XVIIIth International Society of Biomechanics Congress in Zurich, July 2001)

Hilaire A.C. Jacob a, PhD, Thomas Böni a, MD, Beat Rüttimann b, MD.

aDept. of Orthopaedic Surgery, Balgrist, University of Zurich, Switzerland

bInstitute of Medical History, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Richard Scherb was born in 1880 in Bischofszell, about 50 km east of Zurich (Fig. 1). He grew up in a rural surrounding which enabled him to come into close contact with artisans, and in fact, during his school holidays he is said to have even joined them as an apprentice. This aptitude to work with his hands was of immense value later on when he designed mechanical equipment for research purposes.

Fig1: Richard Scherb (1880-1955).

After completing his basic medical studies in Zurich, Scherb spent the first three years of his residency in Münsterlingen, in the eastern part of Switzerland, where he felt a desire to learn more about orthopaedics. This brought him in contact with Wilhelm Schulthess and August Lüning who already ran an internationally highly recognised Institute for Surgery in Zurich. It was here, in Zurich, under the guidance of Schulthess, that Scherb learnt about scoliosis and the manner of treating orthopaedic disorders with the aid of mechanical devices, and of course, orthopaedic surgery. Scherb described Schulthess as a man of such genius and understanding, that he could afford to contradict a universally accepted opinion without being considered an eccentric.

Scherb, following the advice of Schulthess, spent some time with Fritz Lange in Munich, who had set up the first state-run orthopaedic department in Germany. Lange was one of the few orthopaedic surgeons at that time who, like Schulthess and Lüning in Zürich, and Konrad Biesalsky in Berlin, carried out muscle transplantation to restore functionality that had been lost either through disease, trauma, or from the time of birth. Lange had also earned reputation in the treatment of hip dislocation by inducing the acetabulum to form a containment ring, formation of which was encouraged by suitable passive joint motion, this being produced by external mechanical devices. All these treatments facinated Scherb.

It must be expressly mentioned that Lange, like Schulthess, attributed much importance to muscle tone when judging the state of joint disorders. Anatomists at that time, on the contrary, were primarily impressed by the bracing effect of ligaments and considered these to act like springs, holding the whole body erect, while muscles were thought to play only a subordinate role by acting against these springs in order to cause the joints to flex in one direction or the other [1, 2].

After returning to the Schulthess clinic in Zurich, Scherb made several trips abroad, to Galeazzi in Milan, to Codivilla in Bologna, to Spitzy in Graz, Austria, and probably most importantly, to the neurologist Otfried Foerster in Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland). This great neurologist made an indelible mark on Scherb that was instrumental in the design of much of Scherb’s future research work.

Two books were particularly treasured by Scherb, Duchenne’s ‘Physiology of Motion’ [3] and Foerster’s ‘Physiology and Pathology of Coordination’ [4]. The immortal Duchenne, remembered for his experiments during the middle of the 19th century on electrostimulation of muscles, was probably the first to address the matter of coordination of motion. He also clearly recognised the importance of the antagonists in controlling and guiding the motion of joints.

Foerster too, worked on the coordination of motion and discussed the mechanics of normal gait, the spatial movement of the body’s centre of gravity, and even abnormalities during the stance and swing phase of gait. Influenced by Foerster, Scherb was now completely committed to physiological reasoning, where sensory feedback and muscle control are required to fulfil a particular purpose in a most economical manner.

Because Schulthess was aware that the child with a severe orthopaedic disorder must receive medical treatment, attend school classes and even undergo occupational training, he suggested in 1907 that an asylum be founded for handicapped children, especially for those of poor parents, that would provide all the necessary facilities under one roof. And so it came about, that in 1909 the ‘Swiss Society for Crippled Children’ was founded and, three years later in 1912, the ‘Asylum for Crippled Children, Balgrist’ was inaugurated at the southern end of Zürich.

Scherb returned from his visit to Foerster in Breslau in 1912 and took over his duties in the newly built Balgrist institute as chief resident, under the supervision of Wilhelm Schulthess. A little later, during the First World War, he headed a military hospital in Troppau (now Opava in the Czech Republic) where he gathered much experience in the treatment and management of war victims before returning to Balgrist in Zürich in 1918.

In the meantime, Scherb published several articles introducing the concept of function and functional treatment, often referring to Duchenne, Foerster and Monakow –  the latter having set up the Brain Research Centre in Zürich.

On the 1st of January, 1919, a day before he turned 39, he was nominated Director of the Balgrist Hospital and continued the work of Wilhelm Schulthess and Hans Hoessly, these two having introduced surgical treatment of paralysis by means of muscle transplantation, surgery of the spine, and also the so-called ‘mechanotherapy’ (Fig. 2 ).

Fig 2: The meridian. A universal machine for applying passive motion to any joint

Of all the many things Richard Scherb had done up to the time he retired in 1950, it is most fitting to briefly present his pioneer work on muscle physiology involving phasic muscle activity during gait. In 1926, on the occasion of the 21st Congress of the German Orthopaedic Society, Scherb voiced his frustration at being virtually unable to examine the functional state of his patients with regard to walking [5]. He commented that although cinematography was indeed a great tool to analyse motion, it could not replace the common photograph. Moreover, it was impossible to simultaneously palpate the patient’s muscles; they could only be examined in a quasi-static manner. If he attempted to examine the play of their muscles during the walking process, they would literally walk away from him! The solution to the problem was found by him in ‘eliminating the element of spatial progression from the act of locomotion’ like in the case of an animal-operated treadmill [5], a device that had already been prohibited in Switzerland in those days because of cruelty to animals. Thus, it would be possible to observe the muscular activity of the walking patient conveniently.

Fig 3: The ‘rolling pavement’, as used in 1927.

With the aid of two drums that were manually rotated, and an endless belt of canvas wrapped around them, which moved over a well-waxed and polished wooden board, Scherb made what was probably the world’s first tread mill, ‘the rolling pavement ‘, as it was called then, for diagnostic purposes (Fig. 3). With this ingenuous piece of equipment it became at last possible to observe the tone of the muscles as they rhythmically functioned during gait. As could be imagined, palpation was the only means of detecting muscle activity in those days. Three electric switches placed under the sole of each foot – under the heel, 1st metatarsal head, and 5th metatarsal head – connected to electromagnetically actuated pens, recorded the phases of foot contact with the floor on a strip of paper that moved at constant speed. A manually activated pen that moved at right angles to the paper, drew a curve on the same chart, corresponding to the feel of tone of the muscle being palpated. In this way, in the hands of Scherb, a myo-kinesi-gram resulted that was of indispensable value in learning the phasic action of muscles that control gait, also enabling him to observe and understand the exact muscular short-comings in those suffering from gait disorders. These recordings (Fig. 4) were of paramount importance in planning muscle transplantations to restore functionality. This beautiful piece of work, reminiscent of a sheet of orchestral music, showing the phasic activity of nothing less than 18 different muscles has often been referred to as ‘the score of Scherb’.

Fig 4: Scherb’s myokinesigram.

A few years later, in 1944, with the help of Aldo Arienti of Milan, the first EMG recordings of muscles of the lower extremities were carried out that confirmed the reliability of the earlier observations made by Scherb [6]. This was carried out exactly at the same time Inman, Saunders and Abbot published the first electromyographic data on some muscles of the shoulder joint [7].

Universally renowned researchers in biomechanics such as Arthur Steindler, Verne Inman, Plato Schwartz and Eberhart were well acquainted with the work of Richard Scherb. Plato Schwartz too, developed a tread-mill for diagnostic purposes, but five years after Scherb had published a report on his device [8]. In the famous Berkeley report of the University of California, on Fundamental Studies of Human Locomotion that was compiled in 1947 but never published, Copy No. 79 of which is in our possession, Scherb is referred to as the originator of the myokinesiographic method of registering muscle action during locomotion. It is further stated that with the myokinesigraphic findings as a basis, the author establishes rules for successful transplantation of muscles pointing out that, phylogenetically, the neuromuscular pattern of automatic gait is very deeply rooted and that it remains practically unchanged throughout life.

And yet, although Richard Scherb and his pioneering work were well known to all those who were more successful in reaping wide-spread recognition for their achievements in the field of biomechanics of human walking, Scherb himself is hardly remembered today. Was this because he published his work only in German?

It is therefore the special purpose of this review to introduce this quiet, hard-working scientist of the past century who dedicated his whole life to unravelling the beauty of coordinated muscle play – ‘the melody of muscle action’ as the neurologist Monakow called it – and who taught us much towards understanding feed-back mechanisms of the intricate nervous system.


Several anecdotes and references to literature were found in a Biography on Richard Scherb from A. Uebelhart [9].


[1]  Meyer v. H. Statik und Mechanik des menschlichen Fusses. Jena: Gustav Fischer, 1886.

[2]  Fick R. Handbuch der Anatomie und Mechanik der Gelenke, 3.Teil. Jena, Gustav Fischer.

[3] Duchenne G. Physiologie der Bewegungen (Translated from French by C. Wernicke) Cassel and Berlin, 1885.

[4]  Foerster O. Die Physiologie und Pathologie der Koordination. Jena, 1902.

[5]  Scherb R. Ein Vorschlag zur kinetischen Diagnostik in der Orthopädie. Verhd Dtsch Orthop Gesell. Beilageheft der Z Orthop Chir  1927; 48; 462-472.

[6]  Scherb R, Arienti A. Ist die Myokinesigraphie als Untersuchungsmethode objektiv zuverlässig? Schw med Wschr 1945; 75; 1077-1079.

[7]  Inman VT, Saunders JBdeCM, Abbott, LC. Observations on the function of the shoulder joint. J Bone Joint Surg [Am] 1944; 26; 1-30.

[8]  Schwarz RP, Heath AL. The pneumographic method of recording gait. J Bone Joint Surg [Am] 1932; 14; 783-794.

[9]  Uebelhart A, Richard Scherb (1880-1955), Orthopäde und Muskelphysiologe. Zürcher Medizingesch Abhandl Nr 199; 1988.


by Stephen Ferguson

On March 27th, 2012, the European Parliament hosted an Expert Policy Workshop on Biomedical Engineering in collaboration with EAMBES. The clear outcome of the workshop was that Biomedical Engineering needs a formal recognition at the EU level. The European Parliament would like to ensure that this need becomes a reality to guarantee future financial support. Specifically, the multi-disciplinary and translational strengths of Biomedical Engineering were highlighted, and a strong role was promoted in the context of growth, health and well-being. Specific recommendations and the full report are available from the EAMBES website.

Publication of the European Commission proposals for a revision of the medical devices legislation has been pushed back. In light of recent high-profile reports of implant risks and failures (e.g. the PIP breast implant scandal), the EC has conducted test scenarios to determine whether or not similar cases could arise, and how to increase patient safety and market surveillance.  Discussions have shown a general agreement on key issues such as increased traceability, the creation of national and/or EU implant registries, pre- and post-market assessments and stricter rules for Notified Bodies. The inclusion of Clinical Investigations before receiving a CE mark for a medical device remains a controversial point. EAMBES is closely monitoring the new Medical Device Directive, and welcomes any feedback directly to Prof. Michael Imhoff, the Councillor for Regulatory & Industrial Affairs. As a further example of the EC’s desire to establish stronger, evidence-based support for implant performance (or non-performance), the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) is currently gathering information to issue a scientific opinion on the safety of metal-on-metal joint replacements, with a focus on hip implants.

Prof. Damien Lacroix, representative and past-president of the European Society of Biomechanics, was nominated Councillor for Communication of the EAMBES. In a short interview, Damien provides an introduction to his involvement in BME and his plans to contribute to the future of the EAMBES.

On June 18th, 2012, the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) held a debate on Horizon 2020 and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Discussion topics included the need to promote excellence in research, to have open access to research results and transparency in the progress and status of research results. There was a general consensus that Horizon 2020 did not have a sufficient focus on health. Multiple references to biomedical research in the Parliament’s report underline that health research needs to be better coordinated, also the use of technological and infrastructural resources across the entire biomedical community. The definition of biomedical research and promotion of translational research by a high-level scientific advisory board was a key recommendation. Horizon 2020 is expected to be adopted by the European Parliament in late 2013.

On July 17th, 2012, the European Commission published a Communication on “A Reinforced European Research Area Partnership for Excellence and Growth”. The Commission seeks to reduce the brain drain and the wide regional differences in research and innovation performance, aiming at excellence across the EU through coordinated and effective specialisation. Key priorities are the improvement of national research programs, the promotion of transnational cooperations – including removing barriers to the exchange of researchers – and the open distribution of scientific knowledge. Related to this, the European Commission announced its plans to make open access to scientific publications a general principle of Horizon 2020. The full EC communication is available via the EAMBES website.

Further news items are available at the EAMBES website.

Finally, as a member of the ESB, you are entitled to receive the benefits provided by EAMBES. This also includes the direct delivery of the EAMBES newsletter.  While the EAMBES activities and news will continue to be summarised and passed on to you via the ESB website and newsletter, you may choose to also receive EAMBES updates directly from the Alliance. If you are not yet personally registered with EAMBES and wish to receive these monthly updates, you may fill in the EAMBES membership form at:

Student’s corner

A student’s tale of the ESB 2012 conference in Lisbon

The 18th Congress of the European Society of Biomechanics was held at the Technical University of Lisbon in Portugal and was a great meeting of biomechanical minds. The pre-courses, focusing on the computational and laboratorial techniques of movement biomechanics and cell biomechanics and mechanobiology, allowed some of us to dive into these interesting topics in detail. After a full day of listening, presenting, exchanging fresh ideas and making new contacts during the conference, the city of Lisbon offered some exciting sights and activities: a visit to the Castelo de São Jorge or the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, strolling around in the “Bairro Alto” with its small streets and cosy restaurants, listening to some Fado music while trying the famous “bacalhau” and “pastéis de Belém”!

The student evening started with an interesting presentation about making a career in the Medical Device Industry. Roland Kebel from Stryker, Switzerland gave some key insights and answered many questions from the audience. Afterwards all students were invited to the students speed meeting and barbecue. The speed meeting was a new idea that was organized for the first time at an ESB congress. Interested participants could get to know each other within a time frame of one minute in an informal way during the barbecue. Students found out what their colleague’s research is about and it was very nice to observe some groups which formed during the speed meeting hanging out together for the rest of the congress. The student evening, which came along with some tasty drinks and food and mingling of the students turned into a great party thanks to the live band and everybody giving their best on the improvised dance floor!

Student Evening Activities                  Live music

Another highlight of the ESB meeting was the conference dinner at the magnificent location at the bottom of the “Cristo Rei” statue from where we had an exquisite view on the old city of Lisbon, the “Ponte 25 de Abril” and the Tagus River by sunset. During the dinner the new president, as well as some other new council members, were welcomed. The awards were given and the evening ended with the sounds of a typical Fado concert.

                Fado concert           Lisbon. View from the Banquet venue

One of the new council members, Hanna Isaksson was selected to take over the student committee, since Bill Taylor moved on to become treasurer. We would like to thank Bill for leading the student committee for the last 4 years with so much enthusiasm and motivation! We also warmly welcome Hanna who is now chairing the student committee and looking forward to an exciting future! Changes in the student committee did not only take place at the top but also at the student’s side: Arzu Tasci and Alessandra Carriero are leaving the committee, both after contributing significantly during several years to maintain the ESB facebook accounts, organize events at the ESB conferences and writing the student corner of the newsletter. Thank you very much for your effort and the great collaboration!!! At the same time we would like to present our three new student members, Priyanka Pravincumar, Angelo Karunaratne and Aurélie Carlier who now joined the student committee.

The students working in the new student committee are: Ali, Silke, Priyanka, Angelo and Aurélie. For any further information and contact details please check the student section of the ESB webpage:

The conference was again a great success, inspiring us with new ideas of how to improve our work. We in the committee have already started planning activities for the next ESB meeting in Patras in August 2013. If you have any ideas, remarks or wishes for particular student events, please get in contact with us! We hope to see you all in Patras!

Silke and Aurélie, on behalf of the whole student committee.

Membership news

by Luca Cristofolini

The membership of the European Society of Biomechanics is steadily increasing.  Total membership is now 855.   This includes 580 active members, 227 student members, 36 senior members, 7 honorary members, 5 corporate members.

ESBiomech membership growth

A very warm welcome to the 40 new members who have joined us since Spring 2012:

In order to consolidate the pending memberships, a few members in arrears are being personally contacted and encouraged to confirm their affiliation with the ESB.  This action is likely to further increase the total number of regular members in the near future.

The Membership committee is also taking actions to encourage the participation of more corporate members in the ESB.  In fact, currently the ESB has “only” 5 corporate members, while a larger number of companies could potentially be interested.  For this reason, current corporate members and potential ones are being contacted with a survey to better understand their needs (why would / would not a company join the ESB).  The policy for Corporate members will be revised accordingly, to better focus on their expectations and encourage a broader participation in the ESB.

In order to avoid any confusion regarding the payment of the ESB membership fee, we remind you of the following:

For more details about membership payment rules, please visit the dedicated page or treasures report.

To update/check your membership profile and fee payments, you just need to login in the ESB website and follow the account overview link on the right.  The ESB website has been redesigned recently, but you can still login with your email address (the one you used to register for the ESB) and old password. If you do not remember your password, just fill out your email address on the login page and a new password will be generated and emailed to you.


TreasureR’s Report

by Bill Taylor

As incoming treasurer, I am asked a great number of questions that are not easy to answer, but the one overriding issue that is currently causing concern with the ESB is how exactly the payment of membership should work now that we have annual congresses. This single point has thus been the focus of extensive discussion, and in this issue of the Newsletter I therefore aim to clarify many of these issues and present a clear and transparent set of rules for how membership payment is now structured. Please note that our goal is to have the majority of our members fees included within their registration fees at the annual congress. Alternatively a membership campaign will be run over the autumn months with the target that all members are continually in good standing for the following year. While these rules can now always be found online at, I also provide a copy below:

Payment Structure for Membership of the ESB

Participants of the biomechanics community can become members of the ESB by applying according to the membership application rules (see Article I: Members), using the online tool available on the website at:

The normal method for paying ESB membership fees is by attending the annual ESB congress, where membership fees are included within the price of congress registration. Membership through congress registration will update (and overwrite) the existing membership, and the member will then be in good standing until the end of the following calendar year. Alternatively, should a non-member register for the congress (at non-member registration prices) and wish to become a member, they will be able to become a member by completing the registration process within 2 months of receiving the Emailed information, from that point until the end of the following calendar year (subject to membership approval). In this manner, any participant of the ESB congress can automatically have their membership updated to run for the following ~18 months.

Should a member not attend a congress, their membership will elapse at the end of that calendar year, and they will be required to pay their annual membership fee online (available through the members login page to cover membership for the following calendar year. Similar to acquiring membership through congress attendance, fees paid online from the time point of the annual ESB Congress until the end of that calendar year will be valid for the period until the end of the following calendar year. Late payments (after membership has elapsed) will be allowed until the beginning of the following congress (i.e. for the period of 1st January through to 30th June), but will then only be valid until the end of that calendar year. Please note that should late membership then be paid before registration at the following congress, registration will be allowed at membership rates – however, should membership elapse and not be paid before congress registration, non-member rates will be charged. In this case, membership through congress registration will then cover their membership fee for that, as well as the following year, in the normal manner.

Members who allow their membership to lapse, and do not attend the annual congress will be maintained within the membership database for the period of 3 years, under the status of “suspended”. Such members will be able to return their membership to good standing by attending a congress at non-members rates, or by paying their membership fees in the normal manner. Should a member not return their membership into good standing within this 3 year period, they will have their membership entirely removed from the database and – should they wish to return to membership at some point in the future – would be required to reapply in the normal manner.

Of course, any new structure can be expected to have teething problems, so if anything is unclear or any of your eventualities are not sufficiently dealt with, please feel free to contact me at

In addition, I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the upcoming costs of journal subscription:


Journal of Biomechanics……………………..…………………………… € 100

Clinical Biomechanics…..……………………………………..………….. € 94

Gait and Posture (combined print and online subscription)…………….. € 111

Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology (print only).…..…………. € 121

The Knee (print only) ……………….…………………………………….. € 97

The Foot (print only) ………………………………………………………. € 138

Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering …… € 88

Footwear Science………………………………………………………….. € 88

Sports Biomechanics………………………………………………………  € 59

Biomechanics and Modelling in Mechanobiology………………………..  € 95

All prices are inclusive of VAT.

Society News

Summary of the 2nd Meeting of the Italian Chapter of the ESB

The Second Meeting of the Italian Chapter took place in Rome on 29 June as an event of the Bioengineering week, which included also BioRob, CARS, CMBS. In order to promote the Chapter and to reach other researchers working in Biomechanics, the Meeting was co-organized together with the Congress of the GNB (National Bioengineering Group). In particular, the opening plenary lectures were given in a joint session with the GNB and had more than 200 attendees.  Two outstanding scientists were invited for this event: Prof. Aurelio Cappozzo (Università di Roma “Foro Italico”) who gave the speech “De motu animalium: from Borelli to the foundation of the Italian Chapter of the ESB and beyond” and Prof. Oussama Khatib (Stanford University) who presented the lecture “Human and the robot”.

Plenary Session

The following oral and poster sessions were open to ESB members only.  A total of 19 works by authors (younger than 36) were presented to an audience of some 50 participants. The two-pages abstracts of these papers are included in the GNB Congress Proceedings, which are being ISI- and Scopus-indexed.  The best oral and best poster presentations were selected based on the original assessment by the Peer reviewers, and on the polls of the participants.  Diana Massai (Politecnico di Torino) was awarded for her presentation “Innovative low-cost microgravity bioreactor for hydrogel-based regenerative medicine”.  Elena Bianchi (Politecnico di Milano) was awarded for her poster “Buoyancy driven flows in a microfluidic device for PCR applications”. The Chapter Ex-Bo sponsored the prizes, a voucher for two persons for a one night escape from the city.

General Assembly of the Italian Chapter
Logo of the Italian Chapter by Andrea Malandrino

The yearly assembly of the Chapter took place on the same day.  An open discussion took place about the goals of the Italian Chapter, and the organization of the next meeting.  The assembly was animated by the selection of the official logo for the Italian Chapter. A contest for logo proposals was opened in May 2012 to the members of the Italian Chapter.  Fifteen different interpretations of the logo were received.  Participants in the assembly voted with a secret poll the preferred logo of the Italian Chapter, whose author, Andrea Malandrino, received a prize for his artistic contribute to the Chapter.

Special Book Offer exclusive to ESB members

We are pleased to have secured this special offer for our members from Garland Science – Introduction to Cell Mechanics and Mechanobiology by Christopher R. Jacobs, Hayden Huang and Ronald Y. Kwon. To obtain the book at a promotional 20% discount please input code AGL83 at the checkout on Valid until 31st March 2013.

About the book:

Introduction to Cell Mechanics and Mechanobiology is designed for a one-semester course in the mechanics of the cell offered to advanced undergraduate and graduate students in biomedical engineering, bioengineering, and mechanical engineering. It teaches a quantitative understanding of the way cells detect, modify, and respond to the physical properties within the cell environment. Coverage includes the mechanics of single molecule polymers, polymer networks, two-dimensional membranes, whole-cell mechanics, and mechanobiology, as well as primer chapters on solid, fluid, and statistical mechanics.

Introduction to Cell Mechanics and Mechanobiology is the first cell mechanics textbook to be geared specifically toward students with diverse backgrounds in engineering and boilogy.

Table of Contents:

Book Cover

Part I. Principles

1. Cell Mechanics as a Framework

2. Fundamentals of Cell Biology

3. Solid Mechanics Primer

4. Fluid Mechanics Primer

5. Statistical Mechanics Primer

Part II. Practices

6. Cell Mechanics in the Laboratory

7. Mechanics of Cellular Polymers

8. Polymer Networks and the Cytoskeleton

9. Mechanics of the Cell Membrane

10. Adhesion, Migration, and Contraction of the Cell

Corporate members of the ESB:

AMTI force and motion logo
Beta CAE logo
BoB Biomechanics logo
Materialise logo
Nobel Biocare logo