Name: Andrew Feola
Title: Graduate Student

Educational Background:
University of Pittsburgh - Bioengineering - June, 2006 - B.S.

MSRC Research Group:
Tissue mechanics

Lab Contact Info:
Musculoskeletal Research Center
405 Center for Bioengineering
300 Technology Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: 412-648-1943
Fax: 412-648-2001

Research Interests:
  • Biomechanics of the pelvic floor and pelvic organ prolapse

The goal of this project is to help increase the prevention of pelvic organ prolapse by understanding the biomechanical properties of the vagina. The motivation for beginning this project was in part due to the astounding number of women affect by prolapse: estimated up to half of women after menopause. However, for such a wide spread problem relatively little is known or understood. The normal function of the vagina and supporting tissue is to bear the load of the bladder, urethra, uterus, and rectum. When this support fails prolapse can result. There are many ideas as to what could cause prolapse, but by examining all of the risk factors many studies have found that parity, giving birth or multiple births, is the largest risk factor for developing pelvic organ prolapse later in life. It is known that there are specific adaptations in the vagina and supportive tissues required to reduce the injury suffered during the passage of the fetus, and if these adaptations are not complete by the time of birth or are inept then prolapse could result. This theory has led us to where we are now in believing that prolapse can be prevented more effectively if we understand the changes that occur during pregnancy. Our study begins by examining a nulliparous model of the rat and primate and then examining and comparing the biomechanical properties from sample tissue throughout different stages of pregnancy. The specific adaptations and purpose of the changes during pregnancy are, we believe, going to be more defined if they have can be examined with robust mechanical testing.

Personal Information:
I came to the University of Pittsburgh in the Fall of 2002 as an undergraduate in Engineering aspiring to graduate with a B.S. in bioengineering. As an undergraduate I began working in a laboratory after my sophomore year studying the effects of Age-related Macular Degradation using an Atomic Force Microscope to collect topographic images and force maps of the tissue. My specific goal was to develop a way to auto the analysis of each force curves, and I continued to work there until I completed my undergraduate degree. I also got a position at The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh as an ECMO Technician during the summer after my junior year. After graduation I decided to stay in Pittsburgh and join the MSRC under Dr. Abramowitch’s team studying pelvic organ prolapse.

Hobbies/Sports: Soccer, hockey

Home Country: USA