Please tell us about yourself

I was born in India and after finishing high school my family and I moved to Enschede in 2002. In the years to follow, I obtained a Bachelors and Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Twente. During the course of my masters program, I did my masters thesis work at the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory Nijmegen. This was a time of personal growth and learning, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It became clear to me during this period that a career in an orthopaedics related field was the way forward. After graduation in 2010, I decided to work in industry and develop as an engineer. I was fortunate to find a position as a product development engineer and later, project manager at Spierings Orthopaedics, Nijmegen. In 2013, I decided to pursue a PhD to further improve my academic credentials and started as a PhD student at the ORL from the 1st of August. This Ph.D. research is part of an international research consortium funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). My supervisor is Dennis Janssen

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Tell us about your career path. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?

After obtaining my master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in Biomechanics, I worked as a product developer at Spierings Orthopaedics. I was actively involved in the entire process of product development from concept design to production which I found to be a very valuable learning opportunity. I was soon involved with project management and quickly familiarized myself with regulatory aspects of obtaining medical device product approval (CE certification). I was tasked with managing 3 projects as well as the yearly clinical follow-up trial of another product (Post-Marketing Surveillance). Working in a small medical device company provided the opportunity to gain experience with Quality Assurance aspects (ISO 13485). My keen eye for detail and precision were valuable assets towards improving and implementing process flows and procedures.
Careful consideration about my future career path led me to conclude that my passion for improving healthcare and orthopaedic medical device development would be well-served with a deeper understanding of orthopaedic biomechanics. This led me to pursue a PhD at the Orthopaedic Research Lab where I am currently finishing my doctoral research into loosening mechanisms of cemented knee implants. Having a strong engineering background and experience with Finite Element Analysis (FEA), this PhD project was ideally suited to my skill set and interests.

Tell us about your research

In total knee replacement, implant components can be fixated in the body using bone cement. Although total knee replacement is a successful orthopaedic intervention, the reconstruction eventually will fail, requiring revision surgery. The aim of this project is to investigate how the process of implant loosening can be postponed.

This project is a collaborative effort of the Department of Orthopedics of the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, and the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory (ORL) of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre. Within this project, experimental techniques (SUNY Upstate) are combined with computational modeling (ORL) to study the load transfer mechanisms and motion at the level of the bone trabeculae (~1mm) and below, see figure 1.

We have been performing in vitro experiments on small components of bone-implant interfaces in which small (micron scale) loading is applied in tension, compression, and shear. We incorporate digital image correlation techniques to map local strain fields subjected to loading. The long-term goal here is to improve our understanding of local motions at the interface and how motion is related to bony response, by combining information from experimental and computational models on laboratory prepared and post-mortem retrieved specimens.

One of my tasks is to include computational modeling of the cement-bone interface of cement tibial knee implants.

What are your future plans?

After graduation I hope to find a position in Research and Development of (orthopaedic) medical devices where I can put to use my skills as an engineer and researcher as well as my prior experience as a project manager.