EPSRC New Investigator Award for research on orthopaedic implants


Dr Richard van Arkel

Dr Richard van Arkel (Biomechanics group) has won an EPSRC New Investigator Award worth £428k.

The project, titled "Evaluation of novel implant fixation technology with a new pre-clinical testing method", will develop new methods to pre-clinically test the fixation of orthopaedic implants in bone.

Dr van Arkel explains: “Every year in the UK, more than 300 000 hip, knee, shoulder, ankle or elbow devices are implanted into patients for the treatment of orthopaedic pain, disease and trauma. Secure fixation of these implants in bone is essential for the procedure's success, yet is challenging to achieve, as bone is a living tissue that adapts and changes after the operation. 

Researchers and industry are aiming to take advantage of bone's living response by enabling it to grow into the implant. However, this is a challenge to test and optimise pre-clinically: current lab methods do not allow for testing with living bone samples, so they cannot measure bony ingrowth and adaptation, whilst live animal testing has ethical issues and is complicated by anatomical differences. 

This project will develop a new bioreactor system to enable implant bony ingrowth and adaptation to be measured in the lab, and then use it to pre-clinically test and optimise novel fixation technologies. The long-term ambition for this research is to lower the risk for patients enrolling on clinical trials, reduce the need for ineffective live animal testing, and improve orthopaedic implants.”

Professor Justin Cobb from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial is a co-investigator in the project, while Baylor College of Medicine and Waters Ltd are partners.

The New Investigator Award supports individuals who have recently acquired their first academic lectureship position, have not previously led an academic research group or been the recipient of a significant grant. 


Nadia Barbu

Nadia Barbu
Department of Mechanical Engineering