Nutrition and Musculoskeletal Health Laboratory

Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario
What the facility does

Nutrition and musculoskeletal health

Areas of expertise

Professor Ward’s research program focuses on nutrition and musculoskeletal health within the Centre for Bone and Muscle Health (…). Her research group investigates the role of food components in the regulation of bone metabolism, with the long-term goal of developing nutritional strategies that prevent bone loss, preserve bone structure, and ultimately reduce the risk of fragility fractures (i.e. osteoporosis).

One strength is our ability to measure both the quantity and the quality of bone tissue. This allows us to more fully understand the factors that influence bone strength. Bone quantity is measured using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and bone quality is assessed using micro-computed tomography, as this analysis provides a three-dimensional structure. Actual bone strength is measured using a materials testing system with customized jigs for measuring different-sized bones.

One of our other strengths is the ability of our micro-computed tomography system to produce images of body composition in vivo using small animal models, allowing us to monitor changes in the same animal throughout its lifecycle. This helps us to reduce the numbers of animals studied.

Research services

The following analyses can be performed in rodent models:
- in vivo and ex vivo three-dimensional imaging of bone structure
- in vivo and ex vivo bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD)
- in vivo three-dimensional imaging of body composition
- biomechanical strength testing of excised bones

Sectors of application
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment

Specialized lab



Nutrition and Musculoskeletal Health Laboratory

SkyScan 1176 (in vivo micro-computed tomography system)


The system allows the following:

-measurement of body composition, in vivo, in small animals (rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits)

-measurement of three-dimensional structure of excised bones from rodent models

-resolution is 9, 18 or 35 microns


Instron 4442 (materials testing system)

Biomechanical strength testing of excised long bones or lumbar vertebrae from rodent models


pDEXA Sabre, Orthometrix

Measures body composition (fat, lean, bone mass) in small rodents and measures bone mineral content and density in excised bones from rodent models