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50 years of research into articular health

Bone and cartilage research in applied physics initially started as pioneering research. Today, it is recognised as cutting edge all across the globe.

  • Text and podcast Marianne Mustonen
  • Photos Raija Törrönen, Mostphotos ja Petri Tanska

“Bone and cartilage research has a fine and long history in our university,” says Professor Jukka Jurvelin, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Forestry.

“Research in this field began at Kuopio University Hospital already in the 1970s, under Chief Physicist Paavo Karjalainen and Professor Esko Alhava. Physicists and orthopaedists at Kuopio University Hospital were working together to develop equipment for osteoporosis research and applied these methods to clinical diagnostics.”

In the early 1980s, Jukka Jurvelin, a young student of physics at the time, was hired to do a Master’s thesis project at the Department of Anatomy in a research project on articular cartilage, led by Professor Heikki Helminen.

“I was the first physicist ever to work there,” he says.

“Back then, the effect of physical loading on the mechanical properties of articular cartilage was studied using biomechanical measurement methods.”

Jurvelin continued his studies to become a hospital physicist, and he defended his PhD in 1991 on the association of articular cartilage structure and composition with functional properties of tissue.

“Our research in Kuopio was completely pioneering in the field. We had to design our research equipment before we could get down to doing actual research. A local slaughterhouse provided us with bovine knee joints for research. They are large in size and good for research, since their structure is similar to that of a human knee joint.”

“In my PhD project, I and a colleague of mine developed a clinical measurement device that enables the examination of cartilage health in the operating room by applying mechanical pressure. This device for the measurement of articular cartilage stiffness was quite definitely among the first commercial devices developed in our university, and also led to wider development of commercialisation processes.”

Jukka Jurvelin.
Jukka Jurvelin

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Jukka Jurvelin

Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Forestry

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Jukka Jurvelin

Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Forestry