Research departments


COTI TEAM : Comportement des Tissus Vivants

(Behavior of Living Tissues)

Team leader

Patrick SANDOZ


The activities of our COTI team figure broadly within the FEMTO-ST investigations destined to meet current scientific and technological challenges in the field of health. The team’s biomechanical activities combine experimental trials (in particular through the use of devices specifically designed and produced), modeling and digital computing in close partnership with hospitals which are the final users of the team’s work. The team systematically takes into account the highly individualized character of living tissues and cells in order to propose personalized solutions.

Goals and Research Areas

› The COTI team has acquired a vast experience in the mechanical behavior of human skin. Presenting wide variability, both intra- and inter-individually, the skin has a strong impact on the dynamics of healing, particularly following surgery. The development and spread of portable extensometers now allows quick and easy characterization of the local behavior of cutaneous tissue in zones of clinical interest. Digital exploitation of experimental data may help to model the mechanical behavior of skin, which, in turn, may help surgeons to better see how it will react to a given treatment and thus help them to make wiser decisions, for example, in defining the optimal path of an incision. These investigations also contribute to the study of poorly understood pathologies (keloids) and to the development of cutaneous substitutes adapted in function of final clinical use.

› Since 2014, at the request of surgeons, the COTI team has explored the biomechanical dynamics of the abdominal cavity in women suffering from prolapse. The multiple interactions between the different soft tissues of the abdomen make it difficult to decide which surgical strategies are the most suitable to reinforce the pelvic floor and compensate for its insufficiencies. From experimental data obtained by MRI, the team, through its investigations, has succeeded in quantifying the reinforcement effect produced by the implantation of stiffening prostheses.

› In a more fundamental focus area, approaches adopted from engineering sciences have been applied to the etiological question of the onset of diseases. The COTI team is particularly interested in the pathological consequences of the internal and individualized conflicts resulting from the dual function of the human brain: i) ensuring the optimal physiological functioning of the organism; and ii) ensuring the optimal psychosocial functioning of the person. The distinction between the organism and the person is paroxysmal in the human being of the 21st century for whom psychosocial stress is a major source of adversity. Pregnancy denial is explored as a model pathology due to the demonstrative character of associated clinical observations.


› Development of a specific instrumentation adapted to the in vivo exploration of the human skin;

› Modeling of the mechanical behavior of complex living structures (human skin, abdominal cavity). Dialogue trials—models more closely associated with clinical problem areas;

› A combination of the ‘systems’ methodology with evolutionary biology to provide a comprehensive approach to the bio-psychosocial functioning of human beings and their dysfunctions.

Implementing our work

The COTI team enjoys the benefits of the scientific expertise of the entire department, especially in structural dynamics, and also from the department’s equipment (calculator, experimental centers). The team’s transdisciplinary work also benefits from FEMTO-ST’s other departments and from close collaboration with hospital practitioners, the biology and medical laboratories of the UBFC and from the university’s clinical investigation center. Collaborative projects are currently under way with the Technological University of Liberec (Czech Republic) and the University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil.