DePuy Synthes, part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, is one of the largest orthopaedics companies in the world, with innovative solutions for hip, knee and shoulder replacements. Their Research and Development Centre is a key hub in the worldwide DePuy Synthes Innovation network.
The world-leading Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering at the University of Leeds has a long standing strategic research partnership with DePuy Synthes, extending over 17 years. The partnership supports research, innovation, product development, high level skills and training. It has led to improved understanding of joint replacements for millions of patients worldwide, new simulation test methods and equipment, and improved international ISO standards. Investment by Johnson & Johnson and Governmental Regional Growth Funding led to the expansion of the DePuy Synthes R&D centre while the Institute grew five-fold to over 100 postgraduate researchers.
Major achievements of the partnership include:
- Development of hip simulation methods leading to the first international ISO standard in 2001.
- Definition of the mechanisms that produce low wear in rotating platform knee replacements.
- Discovery and characterisation of polyethylene, metal and ceramic wear debris down to 10 nanometres.
- Methods to define the functional biological activity of wear debris from joint replacements.
- Research for the development of alternative bearing materials and designs and hip and knee prostheses producing lower wear.
- The world’s largest academic joint simulation test facility at the University of Leeds.
- Development in parallel of comparable capability at the DePuy Synthes facility to reduce validation times and easier transfer of protocols and comparison of results.
- Application of enhanced simulation methods for new product developments.
Capacity building for the future of the industry is integral to the partnership. The collaboration directly supported the work of over 50 doctoral researchers, with visiting industry professors and fellows, industry mentors and researchers from the company contributing to education, research, programme oversight, advisory boards and training in the University. More than 25 University of Leeds alumni graduates work for DePuy Synthes worldwide.
The impact of the partnership reaches well beyond the collaborators themselves:
- Translation of technology benefited patients globally.
- The collaborative multidisciplinary training environment across ten University Departments, benefited over 200 graduate medical engineers, supporting the development of diverse people and disciplines, who progressed to successful professional and academic careers.
- The wider academic community gained from over 100 collaborative peer reviewed journal papers cited over 5,000 times, the dissemination of data at local, and international conferences and symposia, and collaborations with seven leading academic research centres across the world.
- The global orthopaedic community benefited from enhanced international standards for pre-clinical wear simulation methods.
- Finally, the collaboration inspired the next generation of engineers with #TourDeFrankLeeds – the cycling skeleton with two hip replacements.