How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and fascinating career?
After getting hooked on her undergraduate microbiology and biochemistry labs, it was only natural that Trina Majumdar, Bachelors of Engineering, Biomedical Sciences (BBiomedSc 2014, BE(Mat)(Hons) 2014) would go into research. Now a PhD candidate in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, she endeavors to improve body implants (hip replacements, in particular) for millions of people worldwide.
Tell us about your work
People can have bone problems that require a titanium-based replacement joint that is surgically implanted into the body to replace the old one. But what if this new joint could also help kickstart the body’s healing mechanisms?
Although titanium alloys do a good job in hip replacements, very active patients or ageing patients often require revision surgery to fix a hip replacement that hasn’t interacted well with the bone, preventing it from healing.
How does your work benefit the society?
“Hip replacements were developed back in the day when older people didn’t have very active lifestyles,” explains Trina. “But these days you see your grandmothers and grandfathers playing tennis and so on. Because of the way implants interact with the body, this level of exercise means they may need to be replaced after a certain number of years.”
By optimising the additive manufacturing (3D printing) of titanium-based alloys for hip replacements, Trina hopes to improve how the bone interlocks with the surface of the implant. “If you have a bit of texture on your implant, bone cells more readily adhere to it because they love to crawl around and hide in the nooks and crannies,” she says. Also, with 3D printing, implants can be customised to the patient’s body. Trina’s work will ultimately help people with hip problems live more comfortably.
Trina is learning how to design 3D-printed implants that fuse with bone more effectively.
“I’m looking at how to make the implant communicate better with the bone, so the bone grows around the implant and locks in place more effectively,” explains Trina.
“We can make customised implants using 3D printing that are designed around the patient’s own body specifications.”
Trina’s interest in biomedical research was ignited during her final year research project studying biomedical science and engineering at Monash.
“I love the process of exploring a subject and thinking deeply about it,” she says.
What is the most interesting thing about the field you studied?
My research involves a lot of cell culturing. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that even these tiny cells have very distinct personalities! They love to hide in nooks and crannies and even creep under my samples. So, while it’s a little tricky to find them again for imaging, I always have a laugh about how cute they are.
What advice do you have for prospective students starting university next year?
If I had one piece of advice to give to my 16 year old self, it would be this – whatever the world tells you, it is never uncool to be enthusiastic! However lame it might seem, enthusiasm and sincerity is what will help you live a meaningful life, and be the best person you can be.
What do you hope to do after graduating?
After I finish my PhD I hope to go into the medical device industry to get a taste of commercial applications. Further into my career I would also like to return to university as a senior researcher and lecturer.