Mustafa Unal, a doctoral candidate in the lab of Ozan Akkus, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has been selected as a Baxter Young Investigator for his research, titled “Assessment of Bone Quality by Novel Spectroscopic Biomarkers,” in the Instrumental and Analytical Sciences category.

The Baxter Young Investigator Award is highly competitive annual award program sponsored by global health care company Baxter International Inc. for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the U.S.

Unal’s research combines mechanical engineering and biomedical optics. His current work focuses on the involvement of water in fracture resistance of bone. Skeletal fragility due to aging and disease, shown through health issues such as osteoporosis, osteopetrosis and osteopenia, is a major social health problem affecting the lives of millions of people. Accurate assessment of fracture risk is critical to help timely inception of therapy or help to avoid unnecessary treatments.

In his research, Unal has developed a novel Raman spectroscopy-based (laser-based vibrational spectroscopic technique), nondestructive method to assess hydration status in bone, providing a new tool for the determination of bone quality.