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Professor Cobb was an open scholar at Magdalen College Oxford, graduating in medicine in 1982. He trained in Oxford, London and Brighton. He completed his master’s thesis in 1991 and was then appointed consultant orthopaedic surgeon at The Middlesex Hospital. He was awarded a Hunterian Professorship in 1992. After 15 years as a consultant at UCLH and Hon Sen Lect at UCL, he joined Imperial as chair of orthopaedics in 2005.
In 1992 the special trustees of The Middlesex, awarded his first grant, which led to the development, with Brian Davies, of Acrobot, the worlds first haptic based robotic assistant. This was bought by Stanmore Implants, who then sold it to Mako Surgical. The Mako robot is now sold by Stryker around the world.
He runs the MSk Lab in the Sir Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering (BME) Hub on the White City Campus, an entire building devoted to biomedical engineering, housing engineers, scientists and clinicians working on many aspects, from regenerative medicine to neurotechnology and dementia research. Close links remain with the Engineers and scientists who remain in South Kensington where some equipment is better housed. Those links resulted in the OsteoArthritis Centre, funded by an £11m grant from the Wellcome Trust and EPSRC. The patients who take part in trials in the MSk lab come from the NHS trust, and from King Edward VII Hospital, and soon will take advantage of the ambulatory surgery centre on the first floor of the Hub. This will make an ideal conduit for combined projects with investigators across college, including Jonathan Jeffers, Andrew Amis, Richard Van Arkel and Ferdinando Rodriguez in Mechanical Engineering, Anthony Bull in Biomedical Engineering, Molly Stevens and Julian Jones in Material Science, Philippa Cann in Tribology, and Andrew Phillips in Civil Engineering. These collaborations have led to the current MSk Lab team, which comprises a group of more than 30 surgeons, physios, scientists and engineers translating their benchtop findings straight to the patients with musculoskeletal problems in the ambulatory surgery centre on the floor below.
One example of this translational approach is the combination of Gait Analysis, 3D planning, 3D printing and robotics which enabled precise minimally invasive joint salvage surgery. This world leading approach is in collaboration with the Blast Centre in Biomedical Engineering.
The MSk Lab is funded in part by research councils such as the EPSRC, and substantial charitable trusts such as the Wellcome Trust, ORUK, the Sir Michael Uren Foundation, and the Sackler Foundation, and also by donations from patients who also come to the lab to allow us to measure their gait as part of a large study of gait and its relationship to joint health and disease.
The major research themes in his group are these:
3D planning and 3D printing: the development of novel procedures and instruments to enable minimally invasive joint preservation surgery
Compartmental Knee Surgery: the detailed analysis of knee pathology allows us to avoid cutting out the whole knee in most cases
Enhanced Reality and surgical skills: using head mounted technology to enhance skills of surgeons in training and in the operating theatre
Gait analysis and other outcome metrics such as JointPro, a patient centred web based tool
Bone health and disease: the impact of exercise, disability and medication on bone health and material properties
Professor Cobb is on the staff of King Edward VII hospital for Officers, and is Orthopaedic Surgeon to Her Majesty the Queen.
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