Menzies Health Institute QLD Seminar Series - Professor Syn Schmitt

Menzies Health Institute QLD Seminar Series - Professor Syn Schmitt

Principal speaker

Professor Syn Schmitt

Seminar Title:  Using biophysics to understand degeneration of the human spine


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The locomotion of biological systems is fascinating. Muscles serve as a mechanical energy source, which drive the segments to move around joints. The resulting motion is versatile, powerful, complex, tuned. A system dynamics view on the interplay of the biophysical structures reveals nature’s evolutionary design. An application of this system dynamics framework to study the human lumbar spine dynamics will be shown. One example will be the prediction of internal mechanical loads occurring during daily activity tasks, i. e. internal forces and displacements of ligaments, muscles and intervertebral discs, while performing common movements. Another example will be the simulation of a spinal fusion surgery and a comparison of internal loads before and after surgery.


Syn Schmitt studied physics and sport science at the University of Stuttgart. He received his M.Sc. in physics and his state examination for becoming school teacher for physics and sports in secondary school both in 2003. As graduate student he focussed on biophysics and received his PhD in 2006 with a work on macroscopic muscle models and biomechanical simulations. His supervisors had been Prof. Hanns Ruder and Prof. Albert Gollhofer. After a short Post-Doc period at the University of Freiburg and the University of Stuttgart, Syn was granted a young researcher’s group “Computer simulation of human movement” at the University of Stuttgart in 2009. In 2012 he was appointed as Juniorprofessor (Assistant professor) with tenure track option and at the same time as head of the division “Human Movement Simulation” at the University of Stuttgart. Syn Schmitt develops methods for forward dynamics, muscle-driven computer simulations of digital human models. He is not only interested in basic research, but also in dissemination of the methods and the models to industry.

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