Dr. Unal’s current research interests include 1) Orthopaedic Research and Biomechanics and 2) Biomedical Spectroscopy and Device.

As a part of his doctoral work, Dr. Unal pioneered novel Raman spectroscopic techniques to study the role of bone matrix (water and collagen) in bone quality and fracture resistance. Dr. Unal’s studies on Raman spectroscopy (RS) of bone have been internationally recognized and he has received several prestigious national and international awards. Dr. Unal’s ultimate aim is to reduce the number of bone fractures occurring as a result of diseases that change the bone matrix such as osteoporosis, osteogenesis imperfecta, osteomalacia, and diabetes. Towards that end, Dr. Unal’s researches aim to identify i) disease-induced pathogenic, molecular defects in bone matrix specifically contributing to a decrease in fracture resistance and ii) to assess the ability of spectroscopic and bioimpedance measure as a clinically viable tool to detect meaningful compositional differences between a healthy bone and unhealthy bone, which may later posit a target of bone fragility treatment.

Dr. Unal also pioneered the use of RS to study different water compartments (such as collagen-bound, proteoglycan-bound, and free water) in cartilage. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating musculoskeletal disease characterized by degeneration of articular cartilage and has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing diseases worldwide because of the increased prevalence of obesity and aging of the society. Because the early stage of OA is characterized by an increase in water content by up to 15%, Dr. Unal has worked to identify different water compartments in cartilage using RS. Dr. Unal identified, for the first time, different water compartments in cartilage, and showed that RS can be used to assess the hydration perspective of cartilage quality as a potential early diagnosis of OA. Because permeability of cartilage’s water within the highly negatively charged extracellular matrix is critical to the physiological and mechanical functions of cartilage, Dr. Unal’s studies aim to study possible associations between cartilage biphasic mechanical properties and different water compartments in cartilage and transfer RS into the clinic to provide an early diagnosis of OA objectively with assessing cartilage matrix chemistry.

Dr. Unal’s studies further focus on translating RS in a compact, point of care medical device that is dedicated to the diagnosis of many diseases using body fluids, even by non-specialists.

For more information, click UNAL RESEARCH GROUP website