Characterization of structural and functional water

The interaction of water with biological tissues plays crucial roles in maintaining cells and keeping complex organisms alive and healthy. Dysfunctions in biological processes involving water can lead to pathologies or death.


The Welborn group seek to understand how water interacts at a fundamental molecular level with biological entities such as proteins and bone tissues. In particular, we are interested in modeling age-related dehydration in bones, which has been observed to lead to bone weakening.

We contribute to the molecular understanding of the organization of organic and inorganic materials in bone by investigating the effects of confinement, collagen conformation and ionic concentration on water dynamics at the interface. We use density functional theory-based methods to analyze the mechanism(s) responsible for water bonding and dynamics.

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Water pathways within the various levels of organization of bone tissues, from liquid in cortical pores to loosely or tightly bound in the mineral lattice. Understanding the material properties of bone starts with a detailed investigation of the structure and dynamics of water molecules at the nanoscale.

Check out our work in Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., we made the front cover!

Thank you Ella Marushchenko for designing this image for us!