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Biomechanics in Bulgaria: historical review

BIOMECHANICS IN BULGARIA: short historical review
Yuli Toshev, President of the Bulgarian Society of Biomechanics


THE BEGINNING (1960-1974)
►The beginning of the Bulgarian biomechanics was related with the sport sciences and the orthopaedics. In 1960 the academic course “Biomechanics of physical exercises” (Prof. Petar Bogdanov) was introduced in the frame of MSc education in the National Sport Academy (Sofia). In 1970 Prof. Ianaki Holevitch begins implantations of artificial hip joints in the University Hospital of Ortopaedics, Medical University of Sofia, using basic biomechanics. In 1971 Prof. Georgi Brankov (the father of the Bulgarian biomechanics) founds the “Scientific Group of Biomechanics” at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS). The next year this Group was transformed to “Central Laboratory of Biomechanics”.
►The Institute of Mechanics and Biomechanics at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences was established in 1977 on the basis of the Institute of Technical Mechanics (founded in 1962), the Central Laboratory of Biomechanics and some departments in the field of mechanics at the Institute of Mathematics, BAS. The Institute of Mechanics and Biomechanics (the first in Central and East Europe) is important and internationally recognized research centre in the field of theoretical and applied mechanics and in the field of biomechanics.
►Three biomechanical departments were created in the beginning: “Biomechanics of the cardio-vascular system” (Prof. Alexander Rachev), “Biomechanics of the loco-motor system” (Prof. Ianaki Holevitch) and “Biomechanics of sensor-motor system” (Prof. Atanass Kehaiov).
►The First National Conference on Biomechanics (Sofia, 34 oral presentations) was organized in 1972 – one year before the foundation of the ISB and 6 years before the foundation of ESB.
►In 1974 the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences begins to publish the Scientific Series “Biomechanics” (Editor-in-chief Prof. Georgi Brankov, two numbers per year). Due to financial problems, the last Number No 27 of the Series was published in 1995. The successor of this journal is the International Quarterely Peer-Reviewed Journal "Series on Biomechanics (Editor-In-Chief Prof. Yuli Toshev). This journal started in December 2007 sponsored by the International Society of Biomechanics.

INTERNATIONAL EVENTS IN BULGARIA (1977-2000)
►In 1977 held the EuroMech Colloquium No 68 “Mechanics of Biological Solids” (Varna, Co-chairmen: Robert Kennedy and G. Brankov). The Franco-Bulgarian Seminar “Biomechanics and Computer Science in Cardiology” held in Varna, 1978 (Chairmen: Georgi Brankov, Claude Gaudeau, Yuli Toshev).
►The First International Summer School on Biomechanics held in Varna, 1977, with 37 participants from 8 countries and lecturers as following: Robert Scalak (USA), Robert Collins (USA), Adam Morecki (Poland), Ivar Knets (Latvia), Lev Nikitin (Russia) and Alexander Rachev (Bulgaria). The Second International Summer School on Biomechanics held in Sofia, 1982. Lecturers were as following: Adam Morecki (Poland), Aurelio Cappozzo (Italy), D. E. Okhotsimski (Russia), A Rovetta (Italy) and Deyan Popovic (Serbia). The Third, the Forth and the Fifth Summer Schools held in Nessebar (1986), in Varna (1991) and in Sofia (1993).
►The Sixth International School on Biomechanics held in Blagoevgrad, 1995 (Cochairmen: Prof. Alexander Rachev, Prof. Yuli Toshev). The Sixth Summer School was organized with the decisive help of the European Society of Biomechanics and the International Society of Biomechanics. Lecturers were as following: Aurelio Cappozzo (Italy), Stephan Greenwald (UK), J. Vossoughi (USA), Joseph Ronsin (France), Pavel Riha (Czech Republic) and Yuriy I. Nyashin (Russia). 
►The International Conference on Biorheology with School for Young Scientists held in Sofia, 2000 (Chairman: N. Antonova) with participants from Bulgaria, Germany, USA, France, Turkey, GB, Georgia, Czech Republic, India.
Since 1969, every four years the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences organizes National Congresses on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics with international participation. The section “Biomechanics” has been very well internationally presented on every Congress. For example, on the Fifth Congress (Varna, 1985, Chairman: Georgi Brankov, Scientific Secretary: Yuli Toshev) presented papers: Richard Nelson (USA), John Paul (UK), Aurelio Cappozzo and C. Pallotti (Italy), Ivars Knets, H. Janson, V. Kasyanov, S. Adamovic and Y.Zaretskaia (Latvia), Pavel Riha, Victor Porada, Pavel Komarek, J. Vogel (Czech Republic), F.Klimes and J. Jirova (Slovakia), L. Skubihak (Poland), R. Merker (Germany) etc.

EDUCATION ON BIOMECHANICS IN BULGARIA
►From 1975 to 1985 the University of Sofia (Faculty of Mathematics) proposed MSc programs on biomechanics. Fifteen MSc degrees were successfully obtained (Advisors: Prof. Alexander Rachev, Prof. Yuli Toshev, Assoc. Prof. Nikola Petrov and Assoc. Prof. Valko Petrov).
►In 1992 the Southwest University (Blagoevgrad) introduced BSc and MSc programs on biomechanics, biomedical engineering and robotics in the Faculty of Engineering. Prof. Y. Toshev was appointed as Head of the new Department “Biomechanics and Robotics”. In the period 1992-2002 about 60 MSc degrees on biomechanics and biomedical engineering were obtained (Advisors: Prof. Y. Toshev, Prof. M. Mihovski, Prof. P. Bogdanov, Assoc. Prof. V. Petrov, Assoc. Prof. V. Ivanov).
►A team of educators and researchers from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Technical University of Sofia, the Medical University of Sofia, the National Centre for Prosthetics & Orthotics and the National Sports Academy prepared new BSc and MSc programs on biomechanics. These programs are announced at the New Bulgarian University – Sofia (Program Director: Prof. Yuli Toshev).

THE BULGARIAN SOCIETY OF BIOMECHANICS
The Bulgarian Society of Biomechanics (BSB) was founded on a meeting of 17 scientists in Sofia on September, 24, 1991. Those present at this meeting were selected to be the Founding Members: Prof. D. Djerov, Prof. B. Vladimirov, Prof. Y. Toshev, Assoc. Prof. V. Petrov, Assoc. Prof. N. Petrov, Assoc. Prof. D. Stefanov, Assoc. Prof. N. Antonova, Assoc. Prof. R. Raikova, Assoc. Prof. I. Edissonov, Dr. N. Zlatov, Dr. P. Atanassov, Dr. D. Krejova, P. Koulev (MSc), B. Filipov (MSc), V. Lalova (MSc, MD), I. Naidenova (MSc), R. Kamenova (MSc).
Those present at this meeting selected a first Executive Committee: Prof. Y. Toshev – president, Assoc. Prof. Valko Petrov – vice-president, Dr. Rossitsa Raikova – secretary. The statutes were approved under Bulgarian law and registered in Sofia (November, 14, 1991). The main aims of the BSB were formulated as:

• To promote theoretical and applied research in the field of biomechanics in Bulgaria;
• To introduce and to develop university education on biomechanics at BSc, MSc and PhD levels;
• To assist the Bulgarian biomechanical researchers in their continuous education and research;
• To develop international contacts in the field of biomechanics;
At present the BSB consists of 52 regular members, one honorary member (Prof. Alexander Rachev) and 25 members of the “BSB Students Section” (created in 1996). The members of the Society are with different academic, research, medical and industrial institutions.

COLLABORATION WITH THE EUROPEAN SOCIETY OF BIOMECHANICS (ESB)
Prof. Y. Toshev presented papers at the 3rd ESB Conference (Nijmegen, 1982), the 5th ESB Conference (Berlin, 1986), the 7th ESB Conference (Aarhus, 1990), the 8th ESB Conference (Rome, 1992) and at the 10th ESB Conference (Leuven, 1996).
Prof. A. Rachev and Prof. Y. Toshev presented papers at the 2nd World Congress of Biomechanics (Amsterdam, 1994, with the 9th ESB Conference). Prof. Y. Toshev was regular member of ESB from 1985 up to 1995.
In February 1992, the Bulgarian Society of Biomechanics was approved as “associated member” of ESB. As noticed above the Sixth International School on Biomechanics (Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, 1995, Co-chairmen: Prof. A. Rachev, Prof. Y. Toshev). was held with the decisive help of the European Society of Biomechanics and the International Society of Biomechanics (with the participation of the Canadian Society of Biomechanics). Lecturers were as following: A. Cappozzo (Italy), S. Greenwald (UK), J. Vossoughi (USA), J. Ronsin (France), P. Riha (Czech Republic) and Y. Nyashin (Russia).
In 2001, the Council of ESB appointed as Corresponding members for Central and East Europe – Prof. A. Rachev and Prof. Y. Toshev.
The free subscription for “J. of Biomechanics” (since January 2002) is very important for the Bulgarian researchers.

COLLABORATION WITH THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF BIOMECHANICS (ISB)
Prof. Y. Toshev presented papers at the 7th ISB Congress (Warsaw, 1979), the 11th ISB Congress (Amsterdam, 1987), 12th ISB Congress on Biomechanics (Los Angeles, 1989).
Prof. A. Rachev and Prof. Y. Toshev presented papers at the 14th ISB Congress (Paris, 1993). Prof. Y. Toshev was regular member of ISB from 1984 up to 1995.
In 1991 Prof. Y. Toshev was on the list of Members of ISB for membership of the Council of ISB. In 1993 the Bulgarian Society of Biomechanics was approved as “ISB Affiliate Society” (ISB President: A. Cappozzo; ISB executive member in charge of the Affiliated Societies: Micheline Gagnon).
As noticed above the Sixth International School on Biomechanics (Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, 1995, Co-chairmen: Prof. A. Rachev, Prof. Y. Toshev) was held with the decisive help of the European Society of Biomechanics and the International Society of Biomechanics (with the participation of the Canadian Society of Biomechanics).

The International Society of Biomechanics sponsored the start of the International Quarterely Peer-Reviewed Journal "Series on Biomechanics (Editor-In-Chief Prof. Yuli Toshev). This journal started in December 2002.

WORLD COUNCIL OF BIOMECHANICS

The idea to establish The Word Council for Biomechanics, responsible to organize every four year World Congress of Biomechanics, has been firstly discussed and proposed by "the father of the modern biomechanics" Prof. Young C. Fung (USA) and "the father of the bulgarian biomechanics" Prof. Georgi Brankov (Bulgaria). The First World Congress of Biomechanics held in San Diego, USA, 1990 and during this congress the First World Council has been elected with Prof. Fung as president and Prof. Brankov as member. After the death of Prof. Brankov. Prof. Alexander Rachev was elected as member of the World Council during the Forth World Congress of Biomechanics, Calgary, Canada, 2002). The Bulgarian Society of Biomechanics has been presented to all World Congresses. It is to note that 5 members of the  Society attended the Fifth World Congress, Munich, Germany, 2006: Prof. Alexander Rachev, Prof. Yuli Toshev, Assoc. Prof. Stoyan Stoichev, Assoc. Prof. Nadya Antonova and Dr. Miglena Kirilova.  

INSTITUTE OF MECHANICS AND BIOMECHANICS
As mentioned above the Institute of Mechanics and Biomechanics at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) was established in 1977 on the basis of the Institute of Technical Mechanics (founded in 1962). the Central Laboratory of Biomechanics (founded in 1972) and some departments in the field of mechanics at the Institute of Mathematics. The Institute is the leading national research centre in the field of theoretical and applied mechanics and in the field of biomechanics. The interdisciplinary teams of the Institute perform research, advisory services, metrology measurements, experimental design and education on PhD level in theoretical and applied mechanics, biomechanics and mechatronics. Recently the Institute was shortly named Institute of Mechanics (Director: Assoc. Prof. Emil Manoach).
The Institute consists of 7 departments and 8 laboratories. The staff of the Institute comprises about 110 scientists and researchers including 12 full professors and 33 associate professors. Twelve scientists are Doctors of Sciences and 68 scientists have PhD degree. Annually the scientists from the Institute publish about 120 publications, two third of which in international journals and in important international scientific events proceedings. Scientists from the Institute of Mechanics possess about 170 BG Patents. More than 80 innovations are patented in 15 countries. The research results of the Institute are applied in many branches of industry, agriculture, the medicine and sport.

BIOMECHANICAL RESEARCH ACTIVITY IN THE INSTITUTE 
The biomechanical research activity in the Institute of Mechanics and Biomechanics involves theoretical and experimental investigations of the mechanical behaviour of living systems, and in particular, the human cardio-vascular and human motion systems. Methods of mathematical, mechanical and engineering sciences are used. Results obtained extend the basic knowledge for mechanical processes, which take place under normal, pathological and extreme conditions. Studies are oriented to improve the diagnosis of certain diseases and to propose new design of prostheses and orthoses with application in medicine. Biomechanical studies also promote development of robotics, mechatronics, ergonomics, sports, criminology and space research. The biomechanical researches are concentrated in two departments and one laboratory:

Department “Biomechanics of Systems and Tissues” (Head: Assoc. Prof. Stoyan Stoytchev). The research activity of the Department covers four majors’ areas:
►Adaptation of Arteries to Mechanical Factors. Theoretical study on changes in arterial geometry and mechanical properties caused by alteration of arterial pressure and blood flow rate based on continuum mechanics models.
►Passive and Active Mechanical Behaviour of Blood Vessels. Theoretical and experimental study of arterial wall mechanics, which accounts for residual strains and effects of smooth muscle contraction/relaxation.
►Mechanical Analysis of Artery/Stent and Artery/ Graft Systems. Analysis of stress distribution, flow distortion and pulse wave reflection at junctions of host arteries and implanted grafts. Stress analysis and optimal design of stents.
►Rheological and Mechanochemical Studies of Biological Fluids, Tissues and Substitutes. Experimental and theoretical investigations on interrelations between mechanical characteristics of biological fluids and tissues and their structure and chemical composition.

Department “Biomechanics of Motion and Telemanipulators” (Head: Prof. Y. Toshev). The research fields of the Department are:
►Biomechanics of human motion. 3D Motion analysis. Normal and pathological locomotion. 
►Diagnosis in orthopaedics and traumatology. Assistance for pathological and elderly gait. Wheel chairs.
►3D human body modelling. Experimental measurements and data processing. 
►3D orthoses design: new generation of orthoses for upper and lower limbs. 
►Reverse engineering and rapid prototyping oriented to new maxillofacial implants. 
►Telerobotics in hazardous media. Medical telemanipulators. Man-machine systems.
►Biomechanical applications in: medicine, sport sciences, mechatronics, robotics, biomedical engineering, criminology. 

Laboratory “Biodynamics and Biorheology” (Head: Assoc. Prof. V. Petrov). The main research topics of the Laboratory are:
►Nonlinear dynamic behaviour of biological systems and processes
►Reconstructing dynamics of time series in biomechanics
►Mechanical properties of biological tissues and organs
►Experimental and theoretical hemorheology
►Modeling and control of immunological and biotechnological processes

COLLABORATION ON NATIONAL LEVEL. As noticed above the Institute of Mechanics and Biomechanics is the leading national research centre in the field of biomechanics and co-ordinates the research activities of different teams. The researchers from the Institute of Mechanics and Biomechanics take part in numerous joint project in the field of biomechanics with many bulgarian institutions: Medical University of Sofia, Technical University of Sofia, Technical University of Varna, Southwest University of Blagoevgrad. New Bulgarian University, National Cardio-Vascular Centre, National Centre for Prosthetics and Orthotics, National Sport Academy, different institutes at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, industrial and medical governmental and private companies etc.

INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC COLLABORATION. The Institute of Mechanics and Biomechanics has long and successful relations with many biomechanical research teams from Italy, Switzerland, France, USA, Belgium, UK, Poland, Russia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Romania, The Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark, Portugal, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea. Many researchers participate  in different European and International projects.