• Ph.D., Cornell University, 1971
  • M.S., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1965
  • B.S., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1964


A histology-based approach has been developed to study how arteries respond to changes in their mechanical environment.  This figure shows a rat mesenteric artery after three weeks of high blood pressure, revealing that inflammatory cells (macrophages) are concentrated where stresses are high.

Dr. Vito began his research career in nonlinear vibrations but switched within two years of receiving his Ph.D. to biomechanics, especially soft tissue mechanics. He began at Tech in 1974 as an Assistant Professor. Prior, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at McMaster University, Canada.


Dr. Vito's research interest is in the mechanical determinants of rupture of atherosclerotic plaque. Plaque rupture is important in stroke and heart attack because it precipitates the formation of a thrombus (blood clot) which then breaks away and causes an obstruction of flow. Experiments and modeling are used to determine what compositional factors predispose a plaque to rupture. Dr. Vito collaborates with people interested in detecting vulnerable plaque using magnetic resonance imaging and with others who want to intervene with drugs or genetic manipulation to reduce the likelihood of plaque rupture. His current research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

  • American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Fellow, 2006
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
    • Outstanding Service Award, 2000
    • ANAK Society Outstanding Faculty Award, 2000
  • Cardiovascular Techniques and Technologies Meeting Innovation of the Year Award, 2004
  • Wallace H. Coulter Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 2002
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers Fellow, 1997
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration/American Society for Engineering Education summer Faculty Fellowship, 1979 and 1976
  • Medical Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1973

Representative Publications

  • Y. Kim, et al. 2004. The Levels of MMP-2 and -9 Correlate to Local Stress levels for a Heterogeneous Mechanical Model. Proceedings of the 2004 BMES Annual Fall Meeting, Philadelphia, October 13-16.
  • R. P. Vito and S. Dixon. 2003. Blood Vessel Constitutive Models 1995-2002. Annual Reviews of Biomedical Engineering 5, 413-420.
  • H. C. Han, D. N. Ku, and R. P. Vito. 2003. Arterial Wall Adaptation Under Elevated Longitudinal Stretch in Organ Culture. Annals of Biomedical Engineering 4, 403-411.
  • N. P. Davis, H. C. Han, and R. P. Vito. 2002. Axial Stretch of Arteries in Organ Culture. Proceedings of the World Congress of Biomechanics, Calgary, Canada, August.
  • P. Carnell, R. P. Vito, and W. R. Taylor. 2001. A Histology Based Finite Element Model of Arterial Branches in Hypertensive Mice. Journal of the Biomedical Engineering Society 29 (Supplement 1), 5-29.


  • Autologous Vascular Grafts Created by Vessel Distension, U. S. Patent 6,322,553, November 27, 2001
  • Fixation Assembly for Orthopedic Applications, U. S. Patent 5,931,838, August 3, 1999
  • Orthopedic Leg Brace with Cable Control, U. S. Patent 4,688,559, August 25, 1987
  • Cable Controlled Orthopedic Leg Brace, U. S. Patent 4,602,627, with R. Boehm, July 29, 1986
  • Carton Cutting Knife, U. S. Patent 4,531,286, with R. Boehm, July 30, 1985