Duration of Studentship: 3 years
Interview date: TBC
Studentship Start date: 1st October 2022 (earlier start may be possible)
Come and join the exiting area of bioengineering research to help innovate orthopaedic implant technology. During this fully funded studentship you will work in the leading medical implant retrieval research group, at the largest university in Europe (ranked 1st for Bioengineering), onsite at the largest orthopaedic hospital in the UK.
You will use state-of-the-art measurement technology and work directly with leading orthopaedic surgeons to develop novel implant analysis methods. You will have access to engineering equipment and expertise across all UCL sites (e.g. at Stanmore and central London). The best orthopaedic engineers are those that can put clinical meaning to their measurements.
To train for this, you will regularly visit operating theatres, multi-disciplinary clinical team meetings (led by surgeons, radiologists and arthroplasty practitioners) and have opportunities to interact with patients. You will develop an understanding of the use of blood tests and medical imaging (e.g. X-rays and CT scans) in helping to interpret your engineering analysis.
You will complete this PhD with: (1) a track-record of peer-reviewed publications, (2) an expertise in implant analysis methods and (3) an ability to interact with engineers and surgeons of all levels. This unique PhD will offer a strong foundation for building an academic career but equally, your expertise will position you very well for a successful career in industry, where clinical knowledge in engineers is sought after (we have worked with all major orthopaedic manufacturers).
This PhD project will take place at the Implant Science Centre, based on site at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH). This lab is leading research in understanding failure in orthopaedic implants. Since 2007, we have collected over 10,000 spine, hip and knee components from 29 countries, published 130 papers in peer-reviewed journals with 200 co-authors and been cited more than 3,000 times. Our worldwide surgeon network consists of over 150 surgeons.
The RNOH is the largest orthopaedic hospital in the UK with over 1,500 NHS and UCL staff working together. There are 300 hip and knee revision procedures performed annually here and 20% of all UK orthopaedic surgeons will have some form of training here.
The successful candidate will join a highly motivated team, and all research students have access to training and personal development opportunities offered by UCL across a wide range of campuses. The student will interact and build working relationships with other engineers, scientists, orthopaedic surgeons and other clinicians.
Background to the Project
Additive manufacturing (AM) is rapidly changing and revolutionising orthopaedic implant engineering: AM production methods (also known as 3D printing) are taking over from conventional subtractive methods in all manufactures. The benefits of AM include greater control over the production of: highly porous surfaces that can better adhere to bone; thinner implants, allowing the surgeon to preserve the patient's bone stock, and the design and production of complex shaped implants to fit the patient including bespoke/customised implants for complex bone loss.
However, all new methods have risks which are high for AM orthopaedic implants particularly because over a short time there has been rapid adoption of this technology, which previously was mainly used for 'rapid prototyping'. Over 300,000 patients receive an orthopaedic implant (knee, hip, spine) every year in the UK alone, at a cost of over £2.5Bn; 15% of revision hips are now AM implants, a 3-fold increase over the past decade, with a 20% year-on-year increase in spend projected over the next decade.
Aim and Objectives
The overarching aim of this project is to identify the surgeon, implant and patient factors that influence the performance of AM implants in patients. This will be achieved through the analysis of AM components retrieved from patients, together with assessment of implants in situ. You will investigate the material, shape and manufacturing parameters of the implants using tools such as coordinate measurement machines, profilometers and micro-CT scanning. This will be combined with medical imaging data, including using 3D-CT and clinical data to enable a holistic understanding of AM implant behaviour.
Key Milestone Requirements of the Project
You will be encouraged to attend UCL courses (e.g. in research study design, good clinical practice, medical statistics, time management, paper writing).
Your thesis will consist of at least 4 well-developed chapters, in addition to chapters discussing a detailed literature review, introduction and discussion. You will be expected to publish peer-reviewed papers for each chapter of your thesis.
Impact of the Project
This research will inform manufacturers, surgeons and regulators about the performance of current AM implants and aid the improvement of future designs. Manufacturers will be able to adopt the analysis methods developed and data for comparison. Regulators will know what standards are required from manufacturers. Patients will have more AM implants and have been function when compared to conventional implants.
- At least an upper second-class honours degree (2:1, or equivalent qualification) in Bioengineering, or equivalent.
- Knowledge of orthopaedic implant design.
To apply for the vacancy please email your CV, full transcript and covering letter to Dr Harry Hothi at [Email Address Removed]
Your covering letter should explain your interest in the project, previous research experience (including examples of previous project work) and why you should be a suitable a candidate for this post).