Developing disruptive technologies to prevent and manage various neuromusculoskeletal and cardiovascular conditions

GCORE researchers are passionate about innovation, research and education across the ‘lifecycle’ of musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiac and vascular conditions. Our people represent members of Griffith University, the Gold Coast University Hospital and other hospitals on the Gold Coast and Brisbane. We undertake research and development in cross-disciplinary groups spanning various areas of biomedical and rehabilitation science, design and engineering. The success of our projects is demonstrated by the creation of commercialised medical technologies and health solutions that demonstrably improve public health, enable personalised therapies and reduce health care costs.

The group

GCORE’s vision is to impact the health industry through disruptive multiscale solutions. We are building a global reputation in biomedical and rehabilitation engineering research and development. We are doing this by training the next generation of clinicians and medical staff in the use of innovative technologies to manage their patient's health conditions and rehabilitation therapies. We also promote knowledge and skills exchange through our strong collaboration with hospitals and industry.

Our mission is:

  • To collaboratively discover and develop innovative technologies engaging multiscale mechanobiological and biophysical processes.
  • To inform and influence health regulators on the benefits and value of these technologies and to work with clinical and industry partners to drive their adoption.
  • To enable industry partners to test, trial and commercialise technologies that advance our vision and support the transformation of the musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiac and vascular fields.

GCORE’s direction is overseen by an Advisory Board that embraces collaboration between researchers, engineers, clinicians, professionals, industry and institutional partnerships within Australia.

Research and expertise

Multiscale human biophysics

Using advanced medical imaging, motion capture, wearables and ‘Personalised Digital Twin’ models, we explore cells, tissues, organs and the whole body to understand their dynamic function. We determine the causes of tissue degeneration and organ dysfunction to inform innovative therapies that prevent, slow or reverse disease.

Optimised therapies using modelling and simulation

Using advanced medical imaging and ‘Personalised Digital Twin’ models, we perform virtual therapy planning and simulate outcomes to inform therapy. From these we also generate functional anatomical models to plan clinical interventions and train clinicians.

Development of medical and assistive devices

Using advanced medical imaging, wearables and ‘Personalised Digital Twin’ models, we design and manufacture medical, assistive and rehabilitation devices to account for the complex, non-linear and dynamic interaction between the human and engineering devices.

Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine

We develop, design, trial and use biological and engineered constructs to repair tissues such as tendons and ligaments.

Wearables

We develop wearable technologies to optimise the performance of athletes and enable research into the causes of and recovery from injuries and disease. Our wearable technologies are developed to be effective for injury prevention, training and rehabilitation programs.

Projects

The Digital Athlete

We are developing The Digital Athlete (TDA) from the personalised human digital twin platform. This will be a non-invasive technology to estimate an athlete’s action and loading of musculoskeletal tissues based on their neural control. TDA comprises the integration of various forms of advanced imaging, personalised digital models and software. Mobilised by wearable sensors this technology will have widespread applications in sport, health and medicine. Through accurately reflecting both an athlete’s form and function, TDA will provide coaches and clinicians with a powerful tool to support their decision making. In an unprecedented manner, this technology will identify the fundamental causes of movement deficiencies related to tissues, such as the Achilles tendon and anterior cruciate ligament, and will explore the effect of different interventions on athlete performance. In a significant advance for sports science, TDA can be extended in the longer term to perform computational simulations of athletic performance to answer ‘what if’ questions like “how would greater leg strength affect power output in rowing?”.

Team Leaders: Dr Gavin Lenton (Vald Performance), Dr Matt Bourne, A/Prof Clare Minhan, Dr David Saxby, Prof Rod Barrett, Prof David Lloyd

Wrist Implants

Our team is developing novel 3D printed and tissue engineered technologies to surgically repair the ruptured scapholunate interosseus ligament in the wrist. Our multi-institutional team uses the expertise of the Advanced Design and Prototyping Technologies Institute (ADaPT) on the Gold Coast campus, and represents collaboration with Gold Coast University Hospital, University of Queensland, University of Western Australia and industry partner OrthoCell.

Preliminary results are showing that our engineered constructs can withstand physiological loading, are biocompatible, and are viable carriers of stem cells for osteointegration and ligament formation. The design of these implants is developed by employing personalised digital twins of the wrist and forearm’s musculoskeletal biomechanics, which allows us to test 3D anatomical fit and functional assessment of the final designs. Furthermore, we design the surgical procedures in silico to implant the engineered constructs, and 3D print anatomical models to test the designs and surgical procedures.

Team Leaders: Prof David Lloyd, Prof Randy Bindra, Dr David Saxby, Dr Laura Diamond, Dr Geoff Tansley, Dr Cedryck Vaquette, Prof Minghao Zheng

Cardiac and vascular assistive devices

Our research intoassistive devicesbrings together blood physiologists and biologists, mechanical engineers, and medical doctors to explore how the artificial materials and high mechanical forces employed within life support devices change the structure and function of blood cells, as well as the resultant changes in blood flow within the vital vessels that facilitate nutrient/gas exchange. We examine the molecular biology and biophysics of interactions between mechanical forcess generated by different rates of blood flow and biochemical responses in blood cells. In particular, we are exploring sublethal damage to red blood cells that has led to new understanding of the tolerance of human blood cells to mechanical forces. Armed with this knowledge we are designing the next generation of blood pump and circulatory assistive devices design to match the mechanical properties of blood cells in cardiovascular disease.

Team Leaders: Dr Michael Simmonds, Prof Geoff Tansley, Prof John Fraser, Dr Antony McNamee

Cardiac and vascular prosthetics

Our prosthetics research explores heart valves and artificial hearts. We examine the molecular biology, physiology and biophysics of the interactions between mechanical stimuli from fluid flow and biochemical responses in blood cells. In particular, we are exploring various levels of damage to blood cells that has led to new understanding of their survivability to mechanical forces generated by different rates of blood flow. Furthermore, we have developed a physical test rig, or twin, that mimics the function of the human cardiovascular system and is equipped with our own advanced instrumentation. This system is used to examine blood cell function in different cardiac and vascular prosthetic devices. Armed with this knowledge and test rig we are working with industry to design and test the next generation of heart valves and artificial hearts.

Team leaders: Dr Michael Simmonds, Prof Geoff Tansley, Dr Antony McNamee

In-silico surgeries and implants

In-silico medicine offers great promise to advance areas of healthcare such as complex orthopaedic surgeries for children. We now designing and creating award winning technology incorporating in silico surgery and implant design, and 3D printed surgical cutting guides for individual paediatric patients.

Our team uses the expertise of ADaPT on the Gold Coast campus and works in collaboration with the Queensland Children’s Hospital and two medical device companies, OrthoPediatrics and Surgical Specialties. We have recently introduced computer simulations to perform and evaluate surgery in a digital environment before operating on paediatric patients. Most recently, eight surgeries have been successfully performed by surgeons at the Queensland Children’s Hospital. Comparisons to similar surgical procedures performed freehand with traditional surgical planning have demonstrated reduced average radiation dose and time, as well as shorter surgery time.

Team leaders: A/Prof Chris Carty, Dr Martina Barzan, Dr David Bade, Prof David Lloyd

Biospine

Biospine is a novel neural restoration technology for people suffering from spinal cord injury (SCI). The project has unmatched potential to restore interrupted motor and sensory connections in the spine of people with SCI, with the possibility of returning them to free movement without assistive devices. Overwhelming scientific evidence has demonstrated how the human nervous system can rewire itself, restoring both lost motor and sensory function. However, no rehabilitation therapy currently provides the adequate stimuli to the motor and sensory systems to enable rewiring.

Our team is developing a disruptive rehabilitation system using advanced brain control and human-machine interfaces. Based on a digital twin of the patient’s neuromusculoskeletal system, this rehabilitation system aims to provide all the appropriate motor and sensory stimuli to maximise neural plasticity and permanently restore the interrupted connection between the brain to the muscles.

A person’s digital twin is used to synthesise the signals from the interrupted spinal connection and redirect them to intact sensory areas via advanced extended reality. The system will initially bridge all the signals from the brain to muscles and back. However, intensive and regular rehabilitation will enable progressive neural restoration and gradual recovery of lost motor and sensory functions in a patient’s lower limbs.

Team leaders: Dr Claudio Pizzolato, Dr Dinesh Palipana, Dr Surendran Sabapathy, Dr Chris Carty, Dr Sam Canning, Prof David Lloyd, Dr Laura Diamond, Dr Kelly Clanchy, Dr David Saxby, Dr Che Fornusek (UnivSyd), Prof Yang (Ted) D. Teng (Harvard), Dr Nicholas Emerson (UCNZ)

Sports injury prevention

Our team develops and optimises training methods to prevent and aid recovery from sports injuries related to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL helps to stabilise the knee joint, connecting the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia). Common injuries can occur in sports that involve sudden stops and changes in direction such as tennis, basketball, soccer and volleyball.

We have developed and validated a new computational model of ACL force during dynamic athletic tasks. The model is being used to explore differences in ACL forces across maturation in females and examines if and how footwear can change ACL forces. This model will be able to run in real-time for future training applications.

Team leaders: A/Prof Chris Vertullo, Dr David Saxby and Prof David Lloyd

Trials

There are no research trials running currently that require volunteers. We will update this page when new trials are due to commence.

Our researchers

Lead

Professor David Lloyd

David Lloyd is a mechanical engineer who first worked in the aeronautical industry and went on to complete a PhD in biomechanical engineering and postdoctoral training in neurophysiology and computational biomechanics. He has had a successful academic career being named the 2019 Australian field leader in Biophysics and recipient of the 2020 International Geoffrey Dyson award. He is currently the Director of GCORE, co-founded Griffith’s Advanced Design and Prototyping Technologies Institute (ADaPT), and leads the ADaPT Medical group. David and his team have developed computer simulation methods to study the causes, prevention and management of various neuromusculoskeletal conditions and these methods and technologies are now being adopted worldwide in laboratories, orthopaedics and neurorehabilitation industries.

Dr Brooke Coombes

Dr Coombes has two main areas of research - understanding the adaptation of the musculotendinous system to ageing, obesity, injury and rehabilitation and understanding the impact of chronic pain on quality of life and physical activity in people with diabetes. Brooke has lead clinical trials to investigate the efficacy of interventions for tendinopathy and developed innovative imaging techniques to non-invasively quantify tissue mechanical properties

Professor Michel Coppieters

Professor Coppieters is a researcher of musculoskeletal physiotherapy. He has a longstanding interest in neuropathic pain and continues to lecture and research the neurobiology of pain and the clinical diagnosis and management of patients with neuropathies.

Dr Stephen Hamlet

Dr Hamlet is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Dentistry and Oral Health. His research interests include bone regeneration, diseases of the jaw and 3D modelling to optimise cancer therapy delivery. He holds a PhD from Griffith.

Dr Gavin Lenton

Gavin specialises in computational models of the lower limb joints and has applied these models to characterise lower-limb joint loading and energetics during military load carriage. Gavin works conjointly with VALD Performance. More recently, his research is focused on extending novel methods for real-time assessment of joint loading, and creating personalised, digital representations of our musculoskeletal systems and wearable devices.

Professor Rod Barrett

Professor Barrett has published over 100 international refereed journal articles in Musculoskeletal Biomechanics. His ongoing research is focused on the use of medical imaging and computational methods to prevent and/or better manage musculoskeletal conditions including tendinopathy and lower limb osteoarthritis.

Dr Matthew Barton

Dr Matthew Barton completed his PhD in 2015 on "Peripheral nerve repair” and has significant experience in designing and testing novel biomaterial approaches for peripheral nerve repair and regeneration, and has further expertise in the neuroanatomy of peripheral nerves.

Dr Laura Diamond

Dr Laura Diamond is a biomedical engineer and early career researcher who integrates a unique blend of skills in engineering and clinical sciences to understand the neuromuscular and biomechanical mechanisms that underlie the pre- and early-arthritic hip.

Dr Steven Duhig

Dr Steven Duhig completed his PhD in 2017 on “hamstring string injuries”. His research is focussed on how muscle architecture influences function then using this information to better inform injury prevention strategies.

Professor Mark Forwood

Professor Forwood is Foundation Chair of Anatomy at Griffith. He has contributed substantially to understanding the biology of skeletal adaptation, stress fracture repair and bone tissue quality in osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and tissue banking. His laboratory has expertise in orthopaedic biomechanics, fatigue microdamage analysis, histology and dynamic bone histomorphometry.

Dr Claudio Pizzolato

Dr Claudio Pizzolato is a postdoctoral research fellow and mechatronic engineer focused on creating real-time digital twins to understand the effect of human movement on musculoskeletal tissue. Applications of his research involve advanced rehabilitation, sensory augmentation, and injury prevention.

Dr David Saxby

Dr Saxby holds a PhD in computational neuromuscular biomechanics. His research focus is modelling the loading and response of articular tissues. He is engaged in projects with clinical (e.g., osteoarthritis and ligament injury), sport (e.g., hamstring injury), and military applications.

Dr Sam Canning

Dr Canning is a lecturer in Digital Media and Industrial Design interested in the fusion of traditional craft knowledge with new technologies. Sam trained as a French Polisher specialising in antique restoration and during this time developed an interest in CNC machining and its potential for craft practice. He then studied Industrial Design at QUT and gained his PhD in 3D printing from the Queensland College of Art. Sam has vast expertise in the industrial design of medical devices and other industrial commercial products for which has been the recipient of Australian Design awards.

Professor Randy Bindra

Professor Bindra is an Orthopaedic Surgeon specializing in surgery of the hand, wrist and peripheral nerve for all age groups, including paediatrics. Professor Bindra has received international training at the University of Mumbai, India, University of Liverpool, UK and Washington University in St Louis, USA. He holds Fellowship at several international institutions and currently serves as Secretary of Queensland Hand Surgery Society.

Dr Martina Barzan

Dr Barzan is a bioengineer skilled in neuromusculoskeletal biomechanics, gait analysis, medical imaging, 3D CAD design, orthopaedic surgery and implant design optimisation and additive manufacturing. She works on orthopaedic biomechanics and is currently developing personalised digital twins of children with hip deformities. She completed a PhD on the development of personalised knee kinematic models of children with recurrent patellar dislocation

Professor Geoff Tansley

Professor Tansley is a mechanical and biomedical engineer with broad experience in the medical devices and manufacturing industries. He consults widely to medical device companies. His has long held advanced specialisation in the mechanics of Couette blood flow, and more broadly cardiac and vascular medical device design and fluid dynamics. He has worked in and has extensive experience in the cardiac and vascular assistive device industry.

Dr Nataliya Perevoshchikova

Dr Perevoshchikova is a young research fellow in materials scientist and engineer specialising in advance design of musculoskeletal implants. She has a PhD in Material Science and Engineering, Ecole National Superieure des Mines de. Nataliya is uses advanced computational methods to refine implant design and positioning in the human body, and has expertise in optimisation of additive manufacturing processes for titanium.

Dr Chris Carty

Dr Carty is an exercise physiologist and clinical biomechanist with leadership roles in healthcare and clinical research. His contributions to medical research and clinical service delivery have focused on the application of engineering principles in the clinical management of the lifespan of patients with movement disorders. His current research interests include 3D printing and predictive modelling to inform paediatric deformity correction surgery.

Mr Derek Smith

Mr Smith is Technical Manager in Griffith’s Advanced Design and Prototyping Technologies Institute. He is a mechanical engineer that has long experience in the design and manufacture of biomedical implants. Derek has held positions in many medical device companies, including mechanical design team leader at Cochlear. He has extensive specialisation in the design and optimal use of additive manufacturing in the medical and other industries.

Dr Michael Simmonds

Dr Simmonds is an inspirational young researcher who was a Young Tall Poppy (2018) and a Flying Scientist (2019-2020) in recognition of his achievements in research and science communications. A blood physiologist, Michael works closely with mechanical engineers, medical doctors, and scientific bodies to explores how the artificial materials and high mechanical forces employed within cardiac assistive devices change blood cells structure and function.

Dr Matthew Bourne

Dr Bourne is an Early Career Researcher and Lecturer in the School of Allied Health Sciences and Menzies Health Institute Queensland at Griffith University, and an Adjunct Researcher at La Trobe University’s Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre in Melbourne. Dr Bourne’s overarching research mission is to conduct world-class, multidisciplinary research in sport and exercise medicine, which has direct implications for improving clinical practice. He is primarily interested in the application of targeted exercise to prevent injury and enhance performance.

Want to know more?

Contact the Menzies Health Institute Queensland for more information