O'Connell on UC Berkeley's campus

Research Expertise and Interest

biomechanics, tissue engineering, intervertebral disc, cartilage

Research Description

Grace O'Connell is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.  Her research is focused on soft tissue biomechanics and tissue regeneration. Specifically, her goal is to understand the mechanical function of the healthy, degenerated and injured intervertebral discs in order to develop more physiologically relevant repair strategies. Injury, through herniation, or degeneration may lead to debilitating lower back pain. Current research is focused on understanding alterations in biomechanics and tissue remodeling with degeneration and injury. Other studies are focused on using organ culture techniques to directly measure tissue remodeling and potential biological repair strategies.

In the News

CITRIS Invention Lab opens to produce COVID-19 supplies

While UC Berkeley observes California’s shelter-in-place order, with most research labs shuttered, the CITRIS Invention Lab has received a rare exemption to operate the makerspace to fabricate products and prototypes designed to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis, including Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), ventilator adaptors, and materials needed by campus researchers. 

How To Grow Back The Back - Engineered Cartilage Surfaces

Researcher Grace O’Connell, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, is advancing ways to grow human disc tissue — the spongy, protective material between vertebrae — and other engineered cartilage surfaces in a lab.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
April 8, 2020
Madeline Wells
Ventilator SOS, a project co-led by mechanical engineering professor Grace O'Connell, is seeking donations of unwanted CPAP and BiPAP machines from people who may have used them for sleep apnea. They are converting the devices into much-needed ventilators for COVID-19 patients. "Tens of thousands of COVID-19 patients in this country and around the world will need respiratory support in the coming weeks and months," Professor O'Connell says. "We believe that using sleep apnea machines is a viable solution for non-ICU patients. This way, higher-grade ventilators can be reserved for patients with more advanced stages of respiratory disease." For more on the project, see this story at Berkeley Engineering.
FullStory (*requires registration)

April 7, 2020
John Osborn
Mechanical engineering professor Grace O'Connell is co-leading a Berkeley effort to convert devices used to treat sleep apnea into much-needed ventilators for COVID-19 patients. In the schematic design she and her team developed, the modified CPAP or BIPAP machine accepts oxygen where ambient air enters the device. The oxygenated air is then filtered and delivered to a patient through an FDA-approved endotracheal tube, with the exhaled air re-filtered before being released. A volunteer community effort led by two students is gathering donated machines for conversion. It's estimated that there are 8-10 million machines available in American households for conversion. And since the devices and the components needed to convert them are readily available, these ventilators could be made available to patients much more quickly than newly manufactured ventilators. For more on this, see this story at Berkeley Engineering.
Loading Class list ...