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HMRC News and Events

Congratulations to Dr. Randy Ellis, School of Computing - 2014 Award

Recipient for Outstanding Contributions to Society

April 3, 2014

Dr. Randy Ellis is a 2014 Award Recipient for Outstanding Contributions to Society from the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Computer Science Outstanding Achievement and Advocacy Award (OAA) program.

The Award recognizes the remarkable accomplishments of graduates of the School's degree programs.  Dr. Ellis obtained his PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Computer Science in 1987 and is currently a Professor in the School of Computing, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Surgery at Queen's University.

The sixth annual Outstanding Achievement and Advocacy Awards Bnaquet will be held on the evening of Friday, May 2nd, 2014 in the UMass Amherst Mulllins Center.

Congratulations to Sima Zakani for moving to the Final of the 3

Minute Thesis Competition!

March 31, 2014

Sima Zakani of Mechanical and Materials Engineering is one of four students chosen from Heat 2 to proceed to the final of the Graduate Studies 3 Minute Thesis Competition.  The Competition showcases 10 graduate students and their research.  Sima's presentation was titled "Engineered hips:  reality or myth?". 

The final will be held on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 at 5:00PM in the Kinesiology Building, Room 101.

Congratulations Sima!

Best poster award for School of Computing


February 24, 2014

Congratulations to Andrew W. L. Dickinson, Craig B. Casier, Richard W. Sellens, David R. Pichora and Randy E. Ellis, whose poster "Overall Wrist Biomechanics are Conserved by Phenol-based Embalming" won a Best Poster Award the the NextMed/MMVR (Medicine Meets Virtual Reality 21) Conference, held in Manhattan Beach, California, USA, February 19 - 22, 2014.

Dr. Joan Stevenson, Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies

and the Ergonimics Research Group featured on Daily Planet for

work with military load carriage systems

October 30, 2013

Dr. Joan Stevenson and the Ergonomics Research Group was featured on the Daily Planet on October 30, 2013.  The Ergonomics Research Group has been working with the Canadian military to design new load carriage systems using simulators to measure pack stiffness, load distribution on the shoulders and waist, pack-person motion, skin contact pressures and forces and moments at the hips.  For more information about Dr. Stevenson's work and this feature please click here.  To view the feature from Daily Planet please click here to go to their website.

CFI Research in Action "A better foot forward" spotlights Dr. Tim

Bryant, the Niagara Foot and the future of prosthetics

September 12, 2013

Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Research in Action features:

"A better foot forward" - The great strides in prosthetic development since the Marathon of Hope

CFI, which funds research at Universities, colleges and research hospitals across Canada, highlights research that they have funded in a series of online stories examine the innovative research happening in Canada and the benefits of this research to Canadians.  This month they profile the work of Dr. Tim Bryant in developing protheses, including the Niagara Foot and the future of prosthetic research

The article is a retrospect of the prosthetics available at the time Terry Fox was running his Marathon of Hope and the technological strides made in the development of prosthetics since then, including the Niagara Foot, to the direction of prosthetic research and development in the future.  Dr. Bryant designed, developed and created the Niagara Foot that can be used in post-conflict countries.  It provides a reliable, improved prosthetic that is light, affordable and that can be assembled using materials locally sourced.

With funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Bryant and his colleagues at the Human Mobility Research Centre at Queen's University and Kingston General Hospital have built a motion analysis lab with materials testing equiment, computer vision systems and rapid prototypers, which allow them to quickly research, develop and test new prosthetics or prosthetic components as well as to rapidly respond to modifications to the designs.  This capability combined with the availability of new materials that enable prosthetic components to be lighter, stronger and smaller allow researchers to make technological advances in prosthetic development faster than ever before.  For people who have lost a limb the rapid availability of these advances provides improved mobility, agility and comfort as well as dignity.

For the full story of "A better foot forward" please click here.

The International Society for Computer Aided Surgery ISCAS Best

Poster Award to Dr. M. Kunz, Dr. J. Stewart, Dr. J. F. Rudan and

Dr. V. Kratky from HMRC



The research team of Dr. M. Kunz (School of Computing), Dr. J. Stewart (School of Computing), Dr. J.F. Rudan (Surgery) and Dr. V. Kratky (Ophthalmology) were awarded the International Society for Computer Aided Surgery's ISCAS Best Poster Award for their poster "Faster intraoperative localization of posterior orbital tumours using a patient-specific instrument guide" which was presented at the 17th Annual Conference of the International Society of Computer Aided Surgery held on June 26 - 29, 2013 at the Heidelberg Convention Center in Germany.

For more information about the research team and the award please Click Here.

Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery

27th International Congress and Exhibition

June 26-29, 2013, Heidelberg, Germany

The CARS congress is the yearly event for a renowned international community of scientists, engineers and physicians to present and discuss the key innovations that shape modern medicine on a worldwide basis.

HMRC is proud to announce an outstanding number of representatives will be attending this year’s congress with 9 papers and 4 posters having been accepted. Click here for more details on the papers.

Three Students honoured by Computer Research Association


June 3rd, 2013

The Computing Research Association (CRA) recently recognized theree Queen's students as part of its 2013 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Awards.

Mattea Welch (Cmp'13) received the runner-up prize for the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award (female), while Eric Moult (Sc'13) was named to the shortlist of finalists and Gregory Allan (Cmp'13) received an honourable mention for its male award.

Both Ms. Welch and Mr. Moult worked in Professor Gabor Fichtinger's Laboratory for Percutaneous Surgery (Perk Lab), which develops technology to enable less invasive surgical techniques through the skin.

Mr. Allan worked with Professor Randy Ellis, who applies computer technology and biomechanical engineering to improve surgical procedures.  Greg is also the recipient of an NSERC-CREATE scholarship and has worked in collaboration with the Human Mobility Research Centre.

For more information please click here.

The CRA is an association of more than 200 computing-related academic departments across North America, aimed at advancing computing research and education.  The competition for the 2013 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Awards included entries from students across Canada and the United States.

Congratulations to the three students for this honour and for their achievement!

Congratulations to Dr. John Rudan on being a recipient of the

South East Patients' Choice Awards

May 23rd, 2013

Patients in the South East Local Health Integration Network have nominated physicians and a critical care team for the first Patients' Choice Award.  The Patients' Choice Award honours health-care professionals who have demonstrated exceptional care within their community.

Dr. John Rudan, Orthopaedic Surgeon at Kingston General Hospital, was on of this year's recipients.  Recipients were nominated by their patients for the care they have provided and their commitment to enhancing the patients' overall experience with the health-care system

Congratulations Dr. Rudan!

For more information about the South East Patients' Choice Awards please click here:  South East Patients' Choice Awards Winners

Printing in Plastic, by Ralph Yeung, NERVE Magazine, featuring how 3D printing is used at the Human Mobility Research Centre.

October 2nd, 2012

From applications that alert people that you’re running late to Bluetooth activated coffee machines, one trend in technology is increasingly clear: people want customizable technologies that fill very particular niches in their needs and wants. There’s one problem: specificity is hard to mass produce, and custom craftwork is never cheap. The price tag of such uniqueness easily becomes overwhelming for any developer or consumer.

Which is why people have decided to print them instead.

In the past year or two, the technology behind 3D printing has really come into the spotlight. The idea is simple: digital blueprints are made via a computer program, the digital prints are sent to a printer, and immediately layer upon layer of polymeric material is printed out until a full, 3D object is created, exactly to specifications. There are few boundaries to what we can print and there is no shortage of ideas, either...

...Both Emma’s and Dr. Pearce’s experiences closely mirror research happening at the Human Mobility Research Center (HMRC) at Kingston General Hospital. At the HMRC, multi-faceted research groups develop a multitude of prototypes for prosthetics and rehabilitation devices. In a field that continuously manufactures unique hardware prototypes, the value of 3D printing is immediately obvious. “Any time we want to see something [in reality during] the design process, we can just print one,” Dr. Tim Bryant, who specializes in engineering artificial joints, said.

To read more of this article, "Printing in Plastic" by Ralph Yeung please click here:  "Printing in Plastic", NERVE Magazine

NERVE Magazine is a student-run science, technology and engineering magazine based out of Queen's University.


"Concussions a 'silent epidemic' in minor hockey" by Elliott

Ferguson, The Kingston Whig-Standard featuring Dr. L. Pelland,

School of Rehabilitation

September 6th, 2012

The long-term effects of concussions among young minor hockey players could be a 'silent epidemic' with the full effect not becoming apparent until those players get older, says a Queen's university researcher.   Prof. Lucie Pelland of the Queen's School of Rehabilitation Therapy said concussions can damage children's brains in ways that are not fully understood.

"Concussions in children are different," Pelland said.

Research is starting to show that children who suffer concussions have difficulty with organization when they reach the high school or post-secondary levels, she said.  In many cases, a childhood concussion is the only unusual incident that could be the cause.  Pelland said of particular concern is the impact concussions can have on children younger than 12.

"It's difficult to diagnose concussions in children,' she said.  "Because we don't have that link, prevention is everything."

The effects of a single event can have lifelong consequences, Pelland said, which makes better training for parents, coaches and players critical.

Pelland is taking part in a panel discussion this afternoon in Kingston about concussions in children playing minor hockey.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Cafe Scientifique is geared twoards helping parents and coaches understand the biomechanics behind concussions and some of the ways to prevent them.

Pelland is to be joined by Michael O'Connor, of the Kingston General Hospital department of emergency medicine, and Blaine Hoshizaki, a concussion expert and member of the advisor panel of the National Hockey League.  A repressentative from Reebook-CCM will also be on hand to talk about how helmets can prevent concussion, and some of their limitations.

To read more of this article please click here.  "Concussions a 'silent epidemic' in minor hockey", The Kingston Whig-Standard.


Congratulations to Steve Waldman and Yonjun Lai on receiving

CHRP funding

Stephen Waldman and Yongjun Lai have received grants from the Collaborative Health Research Projects program (CHRP). The joint funding is provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Stephen Waldman (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) has developed a new approach to creating engineered cartilage. The new cartilage, using the patient’s own cells, is used to repair damaged cartilage, in joints and as a result of trauma. Previously, only small areas could be repaired due to the number of cells that can safely be harvested from a patient. Dr. Waldman cultivates these small amounts of harvested cells in a bioreactor to create larger areas of engineered cartilage.

Yongjun Lai (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) and his group have applied micro fabrication technologies to develop new sutures that will improve the control doctors have while completing glaucoma surgery. The surgery is designed to reduce pressure on the eye. This surgery often preserves a person’s eyesight.

Queen’s Launches Initiative Campaign

The Initiative Campaign is about investing in the people of Queen's who — like the generations before them — will not waver in their pursuit of excellence. It's about unleashing the potential of our thinkers and doers. It's about bolstering our reputation nationally and internationally by focusing on what we do best.

Together, we will grow stronger and make a difference, not only to Queen's, but to the world around us.

The Human Mobility Research Centre is profiled for the Queen's Initiative Campaign. For more information please click here:

HMRC Profile for Queen's Initiative Campaign


The Initiative Campaign will help us achieve our potential and define the Queen’s of the future. Our goal is to provide an environment where opportunity meets excellence. To do this we will:

  • Be the destination for exceptional people
  • Enhance our students’ learning experiences
  • Secure a global reputation in discovery and inquiry
  • Nurture a supportive community

To reach our full potential, we need you to join us.

Fundraising Goal

To raise at least $500 million for identified University priorities and an additional $100 million in future estate gifts.


The Initiative Campaign began May 1, 2006 and will conclude in 2016.


Grand Opening of the Human Mobility Research Lab

at Hotel Dieu Hospital

Friday, May 25th, 2012

The Human Mobility Research Lab brings together clinicians, researchers and engineers seeking new strategies for prevention and treatment of bone and joint disorders.  This state-of-the art facility is designed to study human movement in all its complexity.  Analysis of walking, running, activities of daily living and sporting activities is possible due to the space's unique flexibility and the breadth of expertise of the staff.

The new 3,000 square foot lab was introduced to the public and hospital staff on Friday, May 25th, 2012.  The lab is located in Hotel Dieu Hospital in a partnership with Queen's University which puts both partners on the leading edge of mobility research.  The funding for the lab was shared by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Ministry of Research and Innovation and Queen's University.  Private donation came from the family of the late Don McGeachy (Science '40) and Betty and Michael Dicketts.

This facility is part of the Human Mobility Research Centre, a multidisciplinary group that has produced leading innovations in the fields of computer-assisted surgery, bone and joint health, and tissue engineering.

For more information please click on the following links: 

Queen's open world-class research lab at Hotel Dieu (Queen's University News Centre)

MOBILITY LAB:  Queen's University and Hotel Dieu Hospital have joined forces in building the human mobility research lab.  (CKWS - Kingston).

Mobility Lab leading the way (By Michael Lea, Kingston Whig-Standard)

Please click here to see the Grand Opening speeches posted by UHK Foundation.



Gold Winner Award! 


Niagara Foot 2012

Niagar Foot - Gold Winner and Best in Show Awards - Medical Design Excellence Awards - 2012   

GOLD WINNER: Niagara Foot field-adjustable prosthetic device, manufactured and submitted by Niagara Prosthetics and Orthotics International Ltd. (Fonthill, ON, Canada). The Niagara Foot is an affordable, effective, and field-adjustable prosthetic that can be used anywhere in the world. Prosthetists can tune the heel stiffness, forefoot stiffness, and resistance to dynamic loading to meet patient needs, even in the field. Supply and design credit to DuPont Canada (Mississauga, ON, Canada), Queen’s University, Human Mobility Research Centre (Kingston, ON, Canada), Centennial Plastics Mfg. Ltd. (Mississauga, ON, Canada), Hippo Design (Saint-André-Avellin, QC, Canada), Logique 3D/Instadesign (Montreal Laval, QC, Canada), Services PRÉCICAD Inc. (Quebec, Canada), and Universidad Don Bosco (Kempten, Germany).  Rehabilitation and Assistive-Technology Products Division

About MDEA

The MDEA competition is a prestigious, publicity-charged program that provides companies with year-round opportunities to increase the distinction of their MDEA-finalist and winning products. The program recognizes the achievements of medical product manufacturers and the many people behind the scenes—engineers, scientists, designers, and clinicians—who are responsible for the groundbreaking innovations that are changing the face of healthcare.

The Medical Design Excellence Awards is the industry's premier design awards competition for the medical technology community.  Entries are evaluated by a multidisciplinary panel of jurors with expertise in engineering, medicine, human factors, industrial design, manufacturing, and other design and healthcare-related fields.

For more information please click on the link here:

Queen's recognized for work on innovative prosthetic foot (Queen's University News Centre)

Prosthetic Foot an Award Winner (By Elliot Ferguson, The Kingston Whig-Standard, May 29th, 2012)


Congratulations to Brian Amsden and Lauren Flynn on receiving funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Brian Amsden (Chemical Engineering, amount over four years, $112,374 per year) - Arterial disease is a condition in which arteries in certain areas such as the lower leg become partly blocked. One approach to treating this condition is to locally deliver protein drugs. Dr. Amsden will examine the possibility of using polymer as an effective delivery vehicle for these protein drugs.

Lauren Flynn (Chemical Engineering, amount over four years, $105,982 per year) – Dr. Flynn’s collaborative research team is investigating adult stem cells from human fat to develop new strategies to help promote healthy tissue regeneration, rather than scarring, following soft tissue loss due to injury or disease.


Engineering Relief: Dr. Lauren Flynn, a chemical engineeer at Queen's University, has developed a new process to transform human fat into a soft-tissue substitute.

The Kingston Whig-Standard, Danielle VandenBrink

Monday, February 27th, 2012

A process developed by a Queen’s University researcher could lead to a breakthrough in healing from traumatic injuries and disfiguring surgeries.

Dr. Lauren Flynn, a chemical engineer, has successfully transformed human fat — discarded during surgery — into a soft-tissue substitute that can potentially be used in repairing or replacing missing or damaged tissue.

This includes people who have suffered burns, traumatic injury, congenital defects or tumour removal, such as women who have undergone a lumpectomy due to breast cancer.

“I was really motivated by the need for this type of substitute,” Flynn said during an interview with the Whig-Standard on Saturday. “I could see it wasn’t being addressed, so it was something I was interested in researching.”

Flynn began her research in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Queen’s in 2007 after obtaining a doctorate from the University of Toronto in chemical and biomedical engineering.

In a laboratory in Kingston General Hospital, Flynn and a research team work with 20- to 25-gram pieces of fat most commonly discarded during reduction surgeries, such as liposuction.

Researchers mince the fat and remove cells and other components from it that could provoke an immune response in the animals. The result is a natural material that can be made into various forms, called “scaffolding.”

“It’s just a very flexible platform,” Flynn said, explaining the scaffolding has been produced in the form of a sheet and very small Styrofoam-looking balls designed to be implanted in the body. “Starting with something that nobody wanted, we can make all different constructs from.”



Dr. Lauren Flynn's soft tissue replacement technology gets a funding boost

February 15th, 2012

A new process for transforming discarded human fat into a soft-tissue substitute for use in reconstructive surgery is laying the groundwork for creating an Ontario-based regenerative medicine initiative focused on developing products for reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.

"Human fat is an abundant and accessible source of stem cells and proteins that can be used in tissue engineering," says Dr. Lauren Flynn, Queen's University chemical engineer who pioneered the process. "We use tissues that are normally discarded during surgery, to develop non-immunogenic structures that have shown great promise in promoting natural soft tissue regeneration."

Dr. Flynn's technology can be used in repairing or replacing damaged or missing soft tissue caused by traumatic injury, burns, congenital defects or tumour resections such as in breast cancer surgery. The process removes the cells and other components from fat leaving behind a component that, when implanted in the body, can stimulate the regeneration of healthy soft tissue.

Further development of the technology is possible through $192,500 in funding from MaRS Innovation Medical Sciences Competitive Proof of Principle. The program is part of the Ontario Centres of Excellence Institutional Proof of Principle program.


CIHR Grant Awarded to Dr. Lauren Flynn, Chemical Engineering

In September 2011, Dr. Lauren Flynn was awarded a CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research) operating grant of $423,928.00 over 4 years along with co-investigators, Dr. Brian Amsden, Dr. Steve Waldman and Dr. John Franklin for research into "Engineering Adipogenesis for Soft Tissue Regeneration".

The proposed research program involves the development of an engineered fat tissue substitute for use in plastic and reconstructive surgery. Injury to the fatty tissues underlying the skin results in scar tissue formation, which causes deformity and can limit patient mobility. The research team will develop new tissue substitutes for soft tissue reconstruction, including breast reconstruction following tumour removal, the correction of birth defects, and soft tissue repair following trauma, to improve patient quality of life. The long-term objective is to minimize scar tissue formation, while promoting the natural regeneration of the patient's own healthy tissues, to fully restore the natural shape and volume of the damaged tissues. One common strategy is to design a scaffold that defines the desired tissue shape, and to seed it with cells that can promote regeneration, such as stem cells. In the proposed research, the team will investigate stem cells isolated from fat, termed adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs), within a variety of naturally-derived scaffolds. Previous research has helped to identify some of the key scaffold properties that impact the ability of the stem cells to grow and differentiate into mature fat cells. While these studies have shown the promise of a cell-seeded scaffold approach, the ideal tissue substitute for safe, predictable, and long-term large volume soft tissue augmentation has not yet been realized. There is a significant need to develop a much deeper understanding of how stem cells respond within different scaffold environments in order to rationally design soft tissue substitutes. The proposed research will make significant progress towards identifying and optimizing the key scaffold properties that regulate fat formation, to engineer optimized tissue substitutes for use in reconstructive surgery.

Human Mobility Research Laboratory

The Human Mobility Research Laboratory offers a unique means to measure the biomechanical response of the musculoskeletal system during activities of daily living including high demand recreational and occupational tasks. We envision a new paradigm where information about joint motion and loading during activities that are meaningful to the client provides the basis for diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders.

The laboratory facilities, equipment and multidisciplinary team, including Engineering, Orthopaedics, Rehabilitation and Computer Science, will provide the means to:

  • Help people maintain active lifestyles

  • Assessment of patient function

  • Diagnostics based on objective measure of function

  • Patient-specific surgery

  • Pre-surgical planning

The Research Facility

The 3,000 square foot laboratory space is located in Hotel Dieu Hospital, which is an ambulatory care centre that is also the location of the Orthopaedic Clinics. The laboratory with multiple force plates, instrumented stairs, and instrumented treadmill are necessary to measure kinetics during a variety of locomotion tasks including level ground, sloped surface, inclined, and stair climbing and descent. In addition, the laboratory can be reconfigured to simulate occupational activities associated with construction, factory work, and other high demand tasks. This will create unique opportunities for improved assessment, device design and patient treatment.

The Research

The primary research aim is to provide a real benefit to the large percentage of Canadian affected by degenerative joint disease. The objective is to develop non-invasive interventions that will slow or delay the progression. The research also aims to develop ways to optimize the design of total knee replacements to increase their longevity and performance during various activities. This would result in increased quality of life and health as well as significant economic savings. Human motion analysis can provide a non-invasive and objective quantitative tool to identify the mechanical factors associated with arthritis, and to assess the efficacy of interventions aimed at altering these mechanical factors and slowing disease progression.

The facility also forms the basis of research into the development of treatment strategies for patients with neuromuscular disease, stroke, and limb loss. These include:

  • Design of orthotic and prosthetic components that optimally match the mechanical characteristics of the device to the patient mobility needs

  • Mobility devices for rugged terrain

  • Prevention of falls in the elderly

  • Prevention of occupational over-use injury associated with cumulative trauma disorders.

Special thanks for their generous support:

The McGeachy Family
Mrs. Dicketts


Public Support:

Canadian Foundation for Innovation Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation
Queen's University, Kingston, ON


Hotel Dieu Hospital, Kingston, ON

February 21, 2011

Mosaicplasty on CBC.

View our leading edge research!

CBC The National with Kelly Crowe aired February 21, 2011.

Testing New Surgery to Repair Knees


New Hope in Knee Surgery




The Human Mobility Research Centre (HMRC), a collaboration between Kingston General Hospital (KGH) and Queen’s University, received $1.65 million to give graduates in the bone and joint health technologies program a head start in their careers.

Dr. Timothy Bryant, professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Queen’s and co-director of HMRC heads the initiative. CREATE was designed to help science graduates expand their professional and personal skills so they can make a successful transition from the classroom to the workplace.

“Complex research projects must be seen from every angle, and there is no better place to do this than at a university and a hospital where there are experts in almost every area,” says Queen’s Biochemical Engineering student Laura Towsley. “CREATE will provide undergraduate and graduate students in Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Computing an opportunity to work on an applied and collaborative, biomedical research project. Being part of a multi-disciplinary, hands-on project like this would be an invaluable experience contributing to the development of my research abilities.”

CREATE helps program participants learn professional skills that are not part of their normal academic training, such as understanding health policies, looking at business models for commercialization, understanding medical ethics issues, and learning how to participate in public events.

“One of the most exciting aspects of the program is its flexibility,” says Dr. Bryant. “For example, we have partnered with the Ontario Centres of Excellence, which is providing access to its training programs in commercialization and entrepreneurship. The NSERC CREATE program takes advantage of the unique relationship between Queen’s and Kingston General Hospital that supports patient-focused research and training that integrates scientific, technical and clinical skills.”

This is the first second for the CREATE, and 20 projects at universities across Canada will share $32 million over six years. This program was initiated to improve the skills of Canada’s next generation of scientists and attract high-caliber students to Canadian institutions.

For more information about this program please click on the banner below:

HMRC-CREATE:  NSERC CREATE Training Program - Bone and Joint Health Technologies

HMRC researchers recognized for work on advanced bone substitutes

Dr. Harrison works with BCSP/SkeliteA Queen's University team of researchers has become the first recipient of a major Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) award for their work on the anticipated widespread use of advanced bone substitutes in orthopedic applications. The award, called the Mind to Market Award, was given at the OCE conference "Discovery 2006: Bridging the Innovation to Commercialization Gap," held in Toronto in February.

Researchers on the project included Dr. Mark Harrison's team at the Human Mobility Research Centre at the Kingston General Hospital, Dr. Reg Smith's team from Queen's Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and Kingston's biomedical company Millenium Biologix. The project team tested the effects of Millenium's synthetic Bone and Cartilage Stimulating Peptide (BCSP™) in combination with Skelite™, a 100% synthetic calcium phosphate-based bone graft substitute.

The product could be useful in treating fractures where bones won't fuse together, reconstituting bone which has been lost from around loose hip and knee protheses and promoting fusion in spinal surgeries. Both products stimulate healing and pose no risk of viral infection as they are not derived from humans or animals.

"Our research has shown that the use of this material for orthopedic applications as a bone graft substitute is promising, and has the ability to eliminate the need for a second surgery to harvest bone," Dr. Harrison noted in a recent KGH press release. His team included fellow researchers Drs. Brian Amsden and Inka Brockhausen from Queen's University's chemical engineering and medicine departments. "It is the second surgery that patients often complain about the most and as an orthopedic surgeon, I am pleased to play a role in developing new technologies for improving patient care."

The award was created to recognize excellence in university-industry collaboration and the ability to turn an idea into a commercial product that offers both a "significant biomedical advance for the recipients and user friendliness for the participating orthopaedic surgeons," according to Dr. Smith. "Our combined expertise in the processing of ceramics resulted in the development of a manufacturing process and its further optimization to produce a superior bioceramic product which is fully bioresorbable and has the appropriate handling properties for successful clinical use," he said in a recent interview with the Queen's University Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The product has been used in approximately 2,000 patients, mostly in the U.S. and Canada over two and a half years. No clinical trial was required, said Dr. Smith.

The bioceramic "artificial bone" is fully reabsorbed by the body over time leaving no foreign material in the trauma region, said Dr. Smith. "From the patient's own comfort viewpoint, perhaps the main benefit is associated with the elimination of the need for a second surgical procedure to 'harvest' the bone required to complete the skeletal repair from the patient's own hip. Often the pain and complications associated with the harvest site are greater than those associated with the treatment site."

Oct. 20, 2008

Patient-specific guide for orthopedic surgery

A developed by researchers at the Human Mobility Research Centre, a joint venture between Kingston General Hospital and Queen’s University, has been exclusively licensed to a large U.S. orthopedics company by PARTEQ Innovations.

The tool is an innovative drill template, created by using three-dimensional computer models from a patient’s computed tomography, or CT scan. (CT scans use diagnostic imaging to produce precise cross-sectional images of anatomical structures.) Using specially engineered software, these images are used to create a surface-matched plastic drilling template that is an exact fit with the patient’s bone structure. These patient-specific forms, augmented by a novel verification component, enable surgeons to more precisely and accurately align and place the metallic implants used in hip resurfacing and other related surgeries.

“The three-dimensional advantage of the CT scan is incorporated into the design to create a customized form that increases accuracy and efficiency in the OR,” says Dr. John Rudan, orthopaedic surgeon at Kingston General Hospital and Professor of Surgery at Queen’s University. Dr. Rudan is also Vice President of Clinical Relations at iGO Technologies Inc., the Kingston-based medical technology firm that assisted with the customized surgical planning software development. “The virtual representation in this form of computer-assist surgery allows for better reproducibility and a reduction in errors.”

Dr. Rudan originally designed the drill template for a procedure known as hip resurfacing arthroplasty. This relatively new surgical technique preserves more of the bone structure than with traditional hip replacements, in which the entire femur head is replaced with an artificial joint. With this newer, less radical technique, only the damaged cartilage on the femur head is removed and replaced with a metal cap, providing a more natural range of motion for the patient and a return to normal activity levels.

To date the guide has been successfully used in nearly 50 hip resurfacing procedures at Kingston General Hospital, a leading health sciences centre in southeastern Ontario.

A significant challenge with this unique form of joint surgery is that precise placement of the metal implant is critical to prevent undue strain on the remaining healthy bone structure. There are few surgeons in the world skilled enough in freehand drilling to accomplish this precision, so computer-assist surgery systems are used to achieve precise placement. With the development of this new patient-specific drill template, orthopaedic surgeons are able to quickly and accurately align the metal cap, thereby reducing operating room time and postoperative complications for improved patient outcomes.

Most important, this drill template allows surgeons at hospitals anywhere to perform this advanced surgical procedure without the necessity for complex and expensive computer-assist operating room infrastructure usually found only at health sciences and research centres such as Kingston General Hospital.

The drill template has applications in other orthopedic procedures, such as knee and ankle replacements and shoulder surgeries similar to hip resurfacing arthroplasy. All of these procedures are geared towards the younger, more active patients who would otherwise outlive traditional total joint replacements and be left with permanent impaired mobility and decreased quality of life.

The guide was created at the Human Mobility Research Centre by Dr. Rudan and Dr. Manuela Kunz, the mechanical and software engineer behind this exciting and innovative tool. This world-class research facility is shared by a multidisciplinary group of leading clinician-scientists, basic scientists and engineers interested in the mechanisms of musculoskeletal diseases and disorders.