Jeremie Bertaud

SM '09


Research Focus

My research is focused on the multiscale modeling of the deformation and failure mechanisms of materials based on alpha-helical proteins. Alpha-helical (AH) proteins are critical building blocks of life, representing the key constituents of biological materials such as cells, hair, hoof and wool, where they assemble to form hierarchical structures with outstanding mechanical properties and play an important mechanical role in biological processes such as mechanotransduction, cell mechanics, tissue mechanics and remodeling. However, whereas the mechanics of engineered materials has been widely investigated, the deformation and failure mechanisms of biological protein materials remain largely unknown, partly due to a lack of understanding of how individual protein building blocks respond to mechanical load and how the features from nano to macro participate in the function of the overall biological system.

I have developed, calibrated, validated and applied two computational models to predict the elasticity, deformation, strength and failure mechanisms of AH protein arrangements and eukaryotic cells (e.g. intermediate filaments, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, etc.) over multiple orders of magnitude in time- and length-scales. These studies aim to lay the foundation to:

1) improve our understanding of the mechanical role of AH protein based materials in biological processes such as tissue mechanics
2) improve our understanding of pathological pathways linked to AH proteins such as muscular dystrophies
3) lead to the development of new engineering materials that mimic or exceed the outstanding properties found in biological analogs

Fig.1. The AH protein structure (top center region) is a key constituent in a variety of biological materials such as cells, hoof, hair and wool. These structures assembly to form hierarchical filamentous structures (left region). The cell figure (top left region) is reprinted from The wool picture is reprinted from, the hair picture from and the horse picture from


2007 - 2009: S.M., Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT
2004 - 2007: Diplome d'Ingenieur, Ecole Polytechnique (Paris, France)


  • Schoettler Fellowship


  • Bertaud, J., Buehler, M.J., Intermediate filament deficient cell show mechanical softening at large deformation, in submission.
  • Bertaud, J., Hester, J., Jimenez, D.D., and Buehler, M.J., Energy landscape, structure and rate effects on strength properties of alpha-helical proteins, in submission.
  • Bertaud, J., Qin, Z. and Buehler, M.J., Atomistically informed mesoscale model of alpha-helical protein domains. International Journal for Multiscale Computational Engineering. 7(3), pp. 237-250, 2009.
  • Bertaud, J., Qin, Z. and Buehler, M.J., Amino acid sequence dependence of nanoscale deformation mechanisms in alpha-helical protein filaments. Journal of Strain Analysis for Engineering Design. 44, doi: 10.1243/03093247JSA533, 2009.
  • Keten, S., Bertaud, J., Sen, D., Xu, Z., Ackbarow, T. and Buehler, M.J., Trends in Computational Nanomechanics: Transcending Length and Time Scales. Springer (New York), in the series Challenges and Advances in Computational Chemistry and Physics, in press.


Copyright (c) 1999-2009 Markus J. Buehler. All rights reserved.