The growing elderly and more active population puts higher demands on implants, which need to last longer and withstand more severe loading conditions. In the spine, mechanical resistance as well as biocompatibility are especially important due to the vicinity of sensitive tissues such as the spinal cord and nerves. NU-SPINE aims to deliver novel material compositions with a higher degree of biocompatibility as well as novel implant designs adapted to the local loading situation. Through a comprehensive research training program, the consortium, comprising some of Europe’s foremost research institutes, innovative companies and a leading clinical organisation, will prepare early stage researchers for careers in biomedical engineering research and development and create the scientific foundation for innovation in the performance of medical devices. The program aims to deliver 15 PhD’s and will run from January 2019 to December 2022.
- To deliver a tailored, multidisciplinary, scientific training programme firmly anchored within leading public, commercial and clinical research and development environments in order to enhance the career potential of the researchers, including preparation for further qualification such as professional engineering status (e.g. chartership in the UK);
- To recruit and train fellows with the necessary range of skills and capabilities with which to execute effective entrepreneurship, knowledge transfer and leading research in the private and public sectors;
- To deliver leading cross- and beyond-network training events, including workshops and complementary training, which reflect the international, collaborative and highly mobile nature of a leading biomedical engineer;
- To provide meaningful secondments, which reflect the requirement for on-the-job and practice-related training that complements the formal scientific training obtained through the doctoral training;
- To train fellows in the necessary disseminations/outreach skills with which to communicate their research to the wider community including the general public, policy makers and clinicians as well as other scientists.
- To develop dense silicon nitride material with only biocompatible sintering additives;
- To develop novel, osteoinductive spinal fusion designs without the need for autologous bone;
- To develop ceramic coatings for Total Disc Replacement (TDR) devices, for improved wear resistance and improved biological response to wear products;
- To develop macro-porous silicon nitride materials, with an adequate mechanical, chemical and biological response for use in spinal fusion devices;
- To improve existing and develop novel, advanced material analysis methods as well as mechanical, tribological and biological evaluation methods for materials and implants used in the spine;
- To optimise implant designs in terms of geometry vs. mechanical performance, aiming for personalized implants;
- To scale-up manufacturing processes for novel ceramic coatings and bulk materials for industrial use.