Henry J. Donahue, Ph.D

BME Professor and Chair

Dr. Donahue is the Alice T. and William H. Goodwin, Jr. Endowed Professor and Chair Department of Biomedical Engineering and Co-Director, Institute for Engineering and Medicine  at Virginia Commonwealth University. He received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. He has over 30 years of experience studying musculoskeletal biology, using both in vitro and in vivo models. His research focuses on understanding the mechanism by which bone and muscle adapt to their mechanical environment; examining the effects of space flight on musculoskeletal tissues and exploiting biophysical signals, including shear stress and nanotopography, to develop innovative strategies to regenerate musculoskeletal tissue lost to disease, injury or ageing. His research has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 30 years and he has had funding from the Department of Defense, NASA/National Space Biology Research Institute, private foundations and industry. Dr. Donahue is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research and the Orthopaedic Research Society.

Phone: (804) 828-7958
Twitter: @HenryJDonahue1

Yue Zhang, Ph.D

Research Associate Professor

Yue received his PhD in Molecular Genetics from University of Pavia, Italy.  His research topics include bone biology and regeneration, cartilage biology and animal models of musculoskeletal conditions.

Phone: (804) 828-0870

Michael A Friedman, Ph.D

TRISH Postdoctoral Fellow

Michael is a TRISH postdoctoral fellow who received his PhD and Masters in biomedical engineering from Michigan University. Michael received his bachelor’s degree from University of Texas at Austin in biomedical engineering as well. His research focuses on interactive effects of exercise and nutrition on the musculoskeletal system. He is interested in studying ways to maximize bone mass and bone strength as well as ways of preventing bone loss from disuse or disease. His TRISH postdoctoral fellowship is focused on studying the effects of genetic variability on unloading-induced bone and muscle loss.

Twitter: @MAFriedmanVCU

Evan Buettmann, Ph.D

TRISH Postdoctoral Fellow 

Evan is a TRISH postdoctoral fellow in the B.E.S.T. Lab who previously received his PhD and Master’s in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. There he worked in Matthew Silva’s Mechanobiology Laboratory looking at the role of osteoblast lineage cells and VEGFA in coordinating osteogenic and angiogenic processes necessary for fracture healing. Before that Evan received his B.S. in Biological Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His current TRISH funded project is investigating the role of microgravity and connexin43 deficiency on bone fracture healing.

Twitter: @EvanBuettmann

Rachel DeNapoli

BME Ph.D. Student

Rachel is a Ph.D. student studying biomedical engineering under Dr. Donahue at VCU. Her undergraduate degree was from the University of Florida in 2018 in biomedical engineering as well. Her current research involves studying the endocannabinoid system, particularly the CB1 and CB2 receptors, and how they influence bone metabolism under different loading conditions.



Gabe Hoppock

BME Ph.D. Student

Gabe is a Ph.D. student studying Biomedical Engineering under Dr. Henry Donahue at VCU. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University in 2019. Gabe is researching the effect loading and simulated microgravity have on osteocytes, both in vitro and in vivo. Specifically, the effects these changes have on osteocyte phenotype and protein expression and the effect of osteocytic protein expression on other musculoskeletal cell types.

Twitter: @GabrielHoppock

Steven Meas

M.D./Ph.D. Student

Steven is an MD/PhD student in the Clinical and Translational Science PhD program under the supervision of Dr. Henry Donahue. He was awarded a B.Sc. in Human Biology: Neuroscience and Animal Physiology at the University of Toronto in 2016 and then completed an M.Sc. in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto in 2018. His research interests include regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, aging and developmental biology. He is currently investigating the role of senescence in disuse- and aging-induced bone loss.



Lovell Abraham

Chemistry Undergraduate Student

Lovell is an undergraduate student in his sophomore year, majoring in Chemistry. He has been working in the B.E.S.T. Lab since March of 2020. Lovell is interested in investigating systemic bone and muscle loss during fracture healing in mice.


Yasmina Zeineddine

BME Undergraduate Student

Yasmina is an undergraduate student in her junior year, majoring in biomedical engineering. Shee has been working in the B.E.S.T. lab since September 2019. Yasmina is interested in investigating the effects of microgravity and spaceflight on muscle and bone homeostasis.


Joseph Denisco

BME Undergraduate Student

Joseph is an undergraduate student in his sophomore year, majoring in biomedical engineering. He has been working at B.E.S.T. lab since October 2020 and is interested in investigating the effects of Cx43 deletion in osteocytes and bone regulation.



Wesam Elhawabri

BME Undergraduate Student

Wesam is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University who is majoring in biomedical engineering with a minor in chemistry and is on the pre-dental track. She wants to learn more about spaceflight impacts on muscles. She is also interested in learning how to increase bone mass and prevent bone loss.


                                                          BEST Lab Alumni

Seyed Mohsen Latifi, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow – ECPI, Lecturer

Camilla Reina Maroni, Ph.D.

Doctoral Candidate – GSK, Scientific Advisor

Otto J. Juhl IV

Doctoral Candidate – GSK, Discovery Project Manager

Christopher Brunkhorst

Undergraduate Researcher – Cornell University, Doctoral Candidate 

Ravi Shankar

Undergraduate Researcher – Johns Hopkins University, Masters Student

Anna-Blessing Merife

Undergraduate Researcher – Syracuse University, Doctoral Student

Ushna Aroura

Undergraduate Researcher – Stryker, R&D Intern

Caleb Ryan

Undergraduate Researcher –