Medical Engineering Research Group (MERG)

Medical Engineering research

Our group carries out state-of-the-art research in musculoskeletal, vascular diseases and medical devices.

MERG consists of scientists from Anglia Ruskin University, physicians from Mid-Essex Hospitals Trust and Springfield Ramsay Hospital and collaborators from industry, who combine forces to address common debilitating clinical problems, such as osteoarthritis and venous ulcers.

Our collaboration with the Hospital for Special Surgery aims to advance research on realignment surgery, to delay the onset of osteoarthritis and the need for knee replacement, and to assist with the design of our new Medical Engineering Laboratory. Other projects include treatment evaluation for osteoarthritis of the big toe, the wrist and the hip.

Jointly with Columbia University, USA, we are also modelling human reconstructed joints in order to understand the effect of tissue properties on joint stress, which is a precursor to osteoarthritis.

Our research is externally funded through organisations including Arthritis Research UK, the Chelmsford Medical Education and Research Trust, Hospital for Special Surgery, in addition to medical companies internationally.

Our research themes fall into three distinct categories:

  • orthopaedic
  • vascular disease
  • medical devices

We offer our Medical Engineering PhD. We have also identified a range of innovative research project opportunities for you as a postgraduate research student.

If you wish to collaborate or explore possible areas of research our specialisms might support, then please contact Dr Rajshree Hillstrom, Director of our Medical Engineering Research Group.

Our aim and mission

Our aim is to provide engineering solutions to medical problems, through experimental and theoretical assessment, to help improve clinical outcomes of patients receiving conservative and surgical treatments for musculoskeletal pathologies and enhance circulatory function of vascular structures.

Our mission is to advance state-of-the-art in research in musculoskeletal, vascular diseases and medical devices through the application of engineering in medicine for improved quality of life.

Our facilities

We’re based in Chelmsford, in the MEDBIC (Business Innovation Centre, Medical and Advanced Engineering) and utilise other specialist facilities including the Movement Analysis Laboratory in the Salmon Building and the Advanced Medical Engineering Computational Simulation Suite within the Marconi building.

The Movement Analysis Laboratory has been carefully designed to allow a range of research, teaching and clinical activities. This enables the analysis of healthy, pathologic and athletic movement patterns. A large mass floor system minimises vibration-induced errors to sensitive equipment, such as the force plates, cameras and material testing machine. Ground reaction forces are measured with adjustably repositionable force plates to ensure flexibility of research activities. This is the first of its kind in the UK. A prototype of this approach can be found in the Leon Root Motion Analysis Laboratory (LRMAL) at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), one of the leading orthopaedic and rheumatology hospitals in the United States. Our laboratory design was developed by Dr Howard Hillstrom, Director of the LRMAL, who has significantly contributed his knowledge and expertise towards the development of the MEL right from the initial stage.

MEDBIC is home to our six-degree-of-freedom joint simulator (the VIVO testing machine from the AMTI), the first one to be owned by a University in the UK. This machine allows us to input kinetic and kinematic data of functional activities from the movement analysis laboratory to drive the actuators and apply physiological loads to testing specimens.

We were awarded £300,000 from the Science Research Investment Fund in December 2008 to buy capital equipment, including:

  • computer simulations: medical imaging, computer aided design and finite element packages
  • mechanical testing machines (VIVO Joint Simulator, BOSE Materials testing machine, Digital Imagine Correlation machine)
  • scanning electron microscopy
  • motion tracking systems
  • force plates
  • the Novel Emed-x Plantar force measurement
  • interface pressure mapping systems
  • the combined Photoplethysmography and Doppler System
  • rapid prototyping 3D printers

Our research projects

Current projects

Past projects


News

Dr Rajshree Hillstrom was recently invited to deliver a TEDx talk at the RWTH Aachen University, Germany, in June 2018. Her talk explained how engineering can be used to solve medical problems associated with osteoarthritis. Read the full news article for further details.

Tutorial session at International Foot and Ankle Society meeting