• 4257
1995 …2023

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Research profile

René van Donkelaar is Associate Professor in Cartilage Mechanics at the department of Biomedical Engineering (research group Orthopaedic Biomechanics). In his research he approaches cartilage from a mechanical point of view. Using fundamental insights on the mechanical behavior of cartilage, he established a well-recognized computational model of cartilage mechanics. The main asset of this model is that it directly links biochemical contents (distributions of proteoglycans and collagen) and structural features (collagen fiber orientation), to mechanical properties. Van Donkelaar has now shifted his focus from fundamental to applied cartilage research in two main research areas. First, he aims to develop improved loading protocols for cartilage tissue engineering. Second, he aims to understand how adverse mechanical loading leads to progression of osteoarthritis, ultimately leading to the development of diagnostic tools. All topics are studied by means of experimental work using cell cultures and explant systems, in conjunction with numerical modeling using the aforementioned cartilage mechanics model. The latter is being adapted such that cartilage growth and developmental as well as cartilage degeneration can be computed and predicted.

Academic background

René van Donkelaar studied Human Health Sciences at Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands) where he obtained his MSc in 1994. Subsequently, he was a PhD student at the Department of Movement Sciences of Maastricht University (UM, The Netherlands) under supervision of professors Maarten Drost (UM), Harm Kuipers (UM), and Jan Janssen (Eindhoven Unversity of Technology, TU/e, The Netherlands). He obtained his PhD in 1999 with his thesis 'Skeletal muscle mechanics, a numerical and experimental approach to spatial phenomena'. Since 1998, Van Donkelaar has been appointed at the TU/e Biomedical Engineering Department, where he was one of the first faculty members. He has worked at the groups of professors Frank Baaijens and Rik Huiskes, and since 2010 he is Associate Professor in Cartilage Mechanics at professor Keita Ito's group for Orthopaedic Biomechanics.


To me, science is chasing the moment you finally understand how many findings fit together. I wish everybody a few of such Eureca-moments in their carreer.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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