Britta Berg-Johansen
Britta Berg-Johansen, Ph.D.
Associate
Biomedical Engineering
Menlo Park

Dr. Berg-Johansen specializes in orthopaedic biomechanics, mechanical testing, and biomedical imaging and image processing. She has experience in experimental design and mechanical testing of tissues using Bose, MTS, and Instron load frames. Her imaging experience includes various techniques including scanning electron microscopy (SEM), MRI, and CT, and she has extensive experience in data analysis and image processing using MATLAB, IDL, and JMP.

Prior to joining Exponent, Dr. Berg-Johansen obtained her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco’s joint program in bioengineering. Her thesis work elucidated changes in spine mechanics following spaceflight, throughout the aging process, and in disease. Through her work, she developed and implemented protocols to measure mechanical and structural properties of the spinal disc-vertebra interface and its mechanisms of failure. A large part of her research involved custom-designing mechanical test fixtures using SolidWorks and 3D printing technologies. She also worked closely with orthopaedic surgeons and radiologists on MRI-focused back pain studies, in which she analyzed cartilage endplate irregularities using both MRI and histology, and developed algorithms to threshold and segment cartilage endplates on MRI for geometric measurements.

Dr. Berg-Johansen holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly, with extensive project-based mechanical design and rapid prototyping experience. Dr. Berg-Johansen also has R&D experience in the medical sensor industry, in which she performed large-scale data analysis of signal properties (amplitude, count, signal to noise ratio, etc.) and root-cause analysis of poor sensor performance in the body. She wrote complex MATLAB algorithms to aggregate data, perform signal processing, and discover key trends. She is passionate about the future of smart devices, and was a digital technology scout during her doctoral degree for the NSF Center for Disruptive Musculoskeletal Innovations.

CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley, 2017
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 2012
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2012-2015

    Top 10 finalist, UC San Francisco Grad Slam contest (3-minute dissertation talk), 2017

    Grammer/European Spine Journal Award, 2016/2017

    Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, 2014

    Power Fellowship, UC Berkeley Graduate Division

Publications

Berg-Johansen B. Characterization of the spinal disc-vertebra interface and its relation to injury and back pain. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, San Francisco, CA, August 2017.

Berg-Johansen B*, Han M*, Fields AJ*, Liebenberg EC, Lim BJ, Larson PE, Gunduz-Demir C, Kazakia GJ, Krug R, Lotz JC. Cartilage Endplate Thickness Variation Measured by Ultrashort Echo-Time MRI is Associated with Adjacent Disc Degeneration. Spine 2017. *co-first authors. Published online before print, DOI: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000002432

Berg-Johansen B, Fields AJ, Liebenberg EC, Li A, Lotz JC. Structure-function relationships at the human intervertebral disc-vertebra interface. Journal of Orthopaedic Research 2017. Published online before print, DOI: 10.1002/jor.23627

Berg-Johansen B, Liebenberg EC, Li A, Macias BR, Hargens AR, Lotz JC. Spaceflight-induced bone loss alters failure mode and reduces bending strength in murine spinal segments. J Orthop Res 2015; 45(1): 48-57.

Laws CJ, Berg-Johansen B, Hargens AR, Lotz JC. The effect of simulated microgravity on lumbar spine biomechanics: an in vitro study. Eur Spine J (2015): 1-9.

Fields AJ, Berg-Johansen B, Metz LN, Miller S, La B, Liebenberg EC, Coughlin DG, Graham JL, Stanhope KL, Havel PJ, Lotz JC. Alterations in intervertebral disc composition and biomechanical behavior in the UCD-T2DM rat model of type 2 diabetes. J Orthop Res 33.5 (2015): 738-746.

Metz LM, Fields AJ, Lovell AF, Berg-Johansen B, Khashan M, Graham J, Havel P, Lotz JC. Diabetes Mellitus on Intervertebral Disc Health in Rats. The Spine Journal 13.9 (2013): S49-S50.

Berg-Johansen B*, Balcom NT*, Dills KJ, Van Donk JR, Williams GM, Chen AC, Hazelwood SJ, Sah RL, Klisch SM. In vitro cartilage growth with sequential application of IGF-1 and TGF-β1 enhances volumetric growth and maintains compressive properties. J Biomech Engr 134.3 (2012) 031001. *Co-first authors

Presentations


Berg-Johansen B, Liebenberg EC, Fields AJ, Lotz JC. Tidemark avulsions are a highly prevalent form of endplate damage. International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, 2017, Athens, Greece. Poster presentation.

Berg-Johansen B, Fields AJ, Liebenberg EC. Structural properties and failure mechanisms of the human intervertebral disc-vertebra interface. International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, 2016. Podium presentation.

Berg-Johansen B, Liebenberg EC, Macias BR, Hargens AR, Lotz JC. Spaceflight decreases bending strength and alters failure mode in murine spinal segments. Orthopaedic Research Society, 2015. Podium presentation.

Berg-Johansen B, Liebenberg E, Macias B, Hargens A, Lotz J. Spaceflight reduces bending properties and alters failure location in murine spinal segments. UC Berkeley-UCSF Bioengineering Conference, 2014. Podium presentation.

Berg-Johansen B, Hargens A, Lotz JC. Spaceflight compromises the bending strength of murine spinal segments. American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, 2014. Poster presentation.

Berg-Johansen B, Balcom NT, Dills KJ, Van Donk JR, Williams GM, Smith SA, Chen AC, Raub CB, Hazelwood SJ, Sah RL, Klisch SM. In Vitro Articular Cartilage Growth with Sequential Application of IGF-1 and TGF-β1 Enhances Volumetric Growth and Maintains Compressive Properties. Orthopaedic Research Society, 2011. Podium presentation.

Prior Experience

R&D Engineering Intern, Proteus Digital Health, Summer 2016

Adjunct Professor of Physics, University of San Francisco, 2015

Graduate Student Instructor, University of California, Berkeley, 2012

Professional Affiliations

Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS)

ORS Spine Section

NSF Center for Disruptive Musculoskeletal Disorders (CDMI)

CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley, 2017
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 2012
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2012-2015

    Top 10 finalist, UC San Francisco Grad Slam contest (3-minute dissertation talk), 2017

    Grammer/European Spine Journal Award, 2016/2017

    Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, 2014

    Power Fellowship, UC Berkeley Graduate Division