To develop and apply innovative technologies in order to reveal the mechanobiological signalling networks in cartilage and joint disorders and provide strategies for repair.
To be a world-class research programme providing innovative technologies for – and insight into – pathology, diagnosis and treatment of cartilage and musculoskeletal joint disorders.
Our group will enable commercial potential from translation of research into Medtech patents and spinoffs, strengthen the University’s research capacity in mechanobiology, and benefit global health and well-being.
The Integrative Cartilage Research Group values high-quality research results based in our solid expertise, and performed in cooperation with our partners (industry, clinic, government, academic, non-profit). Our team is characterised by a practical, resourceful and innovative approach to Biomedical Engineering problems.
Congratulations to Manula Rathnayake, who is in the final stages of his PhD journey. Manula has been offered a Knowledge & Technology Transfer (K&TT) Internship position within the STEM cluster at the University of Melbourne. This internship offers a good opportunity to gain experience and learn about commercialisation of research.
Accurately measuring the full complexity of living biological systems is critical to understanding fundamental mechanobiological processes and key to future technologies and innovation in biomedical engineering.
The Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology (FEIT) Mechanobiology Lab, co-founded by Dr Kathryn Stok and Dr Vijay Rajagopal, provides the Integrative Cartilage Research Group with access to some of the most cutting-edge laboratory equipment available in Australia. This ensures we have the facilities and instrumentation for our mechanobiology engineering research programme into cartilage and arthritis. The FEIT Mechanobiology Lab is strategically located in the Parkville Biomedical Precinct.
Storage devices available include laboratory grade refrigerators (4°C) and freezers (walk-in −20°C), including an ultra-low temperature freezer (−86°C). The ULT freezer is designed for long term storage of biological samples (DNA, RNA, proteins, cell extracts, and reagents). It reduces the risk of sample damage and contamination, and can also be assisted by a freeze dryer available within the lab.
The lab possesses equipment designed to prepare and cultivate a range biological samples for sterile testing and analysis. Specialist equipment includes a state-of-the-art 3DDiscovery bioprinter, capable of cell-friendly ink-jet printing, two-component micro-valve and hydrogel extrusion, and melt electrospinning writing. Other equipment, including plasma and ultrasonic sterilisation devices, a CO2 incubator, laboratory oven, tissue homogenizers and a precision saw with diamond blade, can also be found within the MSE Mechanobiology Lab. The lab is well equipped for everyday biological research with three biosafety cabinets, standard and micro centrifuges, stirrers and mixers, a microplate shaker, water bath and water purifier.
Measurement and analysis
Measurement and analysis devices found in the lab utilise a range of quantitative and qualitative techniques capable of analysing macroscopic, as well as microscopic, samples for their biological content, mechanical integrity, or with imaging. This includes an EVOS fluorescence cell imaging microscope, UV/VIS Spectrometer and Haemacytometer, as well as a Zwick Roell – Z005 mechancial testing machine, capable of precision testing (0.041μm travel resolution) biological samples and materials, such as cartilage and bone tissue from 10 mN up to 5 kN. The Zwick is fitted with a custom built automated XY stage for high-throughput mechanical testing of native and fabricated soft biological tissues. The laboratory is also equipped with 3kg/0.01g and 0.3kg/0.1mg digital scales, pH meters and a stereomicroscope.
Dr Kathryn Stok is Associate Professor of Mechanobiology in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne, and an innovative biomedical engineer in quantitative microstructural imaging (micro-computed tomography) and biomechanics of cartilage and joint structures. She uses a variety of experimental and computational approaches. Her research work merges solid engineering approaches with biomedical advancement.