University of Washington
Applied Biomechanics Laboratory
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The Applied Biomechanics Lab (ABL) at the University of Washington is a research and development laboratory affiliated with the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering.  Its mission is to: (1) explore and document the mechanisms and mechanics of musculoskeletal injury; (2) support the development of improved injury prevention and clinical intervention strategies through biomechanics research; (3) educate and train students in the performance of high-quality biomechanical research methods and techniques; and (4) transfer acquired knowledge to advance the art in our field.

In the broadest sense, biomechanics is mechanics applied to biology... (Y.C. Fung, 1981).  Our lab specializes in research to prevent or treat injuries to the human musculoskeletal system, with an emphasis on spinal injuries.  The ABL fosters cross-disciplinary research through collaborations with other departments in the College of Engineering and the School of Medicine at the University of Washington.

The ABL can trace it roots back nearly 40 years to a collaborative effort between the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Orthopaedics.  In the early 1970s, Professor Colin Daly was one of the first UW Mechanical Engineering faculty members to foster joint research projects with the Orthopaedics Department.  Soon after, in 1976, Richard Harrington was hired as a research engineer to support the Orthopaedics faculty and residents in developing research projects.  Randy Ching became one of Professor Daly's graduate students in 1988 and completed his doctoral research in what was then the Orthopaedic Biomechanics Lab in 1992.  Randy served as a member of the Orthopaedics Department faculty and worked together with Richard on numerous research projects.

In April of 2002, the Applied Biomechanics Lab transitioned from the Department of Orthopaedics to Mechanical Engineering when Professor Ching joined the faculty of Mechanical Engineering to help launch an academic graduate program in biomechanics.  He was joined by Richard Harrington, and later by Amy Cohen, who together form the core team of investigators at the ABL.  As part of this move, the ABL relocated to its current location on Eastlake Avenue less than three miles South of the main University of Washington campus. 

Located in the Republican Building, the ABL occupies approximately 2,000 square feet of general-purpose lab and office space, which is comprised of experimental workspace, offices, computer workstations, a tissue dissection and preparation area (with storage/freezer space and chemical fumehood), and a conference area.  In addition to specialized test systems (high-speed MTS servo-hydraulic testing system, benchtop acceleration sled system, 3-D spine simulator, and high-speed motion capture and video imaging systems), the central lab area provides flexible workspace to accommodate short-term projects.  These equipment and facilities support our researchers, students, and collaborators in fulfilling the mission of the Applied Biomechanics Laboratory.

The Republican Building houses the ABL

Office Space Floor Plan