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Prof Elizabeth Tanner
OBE, FREng, FRSE, PhD (Hon Caus), FIMMM, FIMechE, FIPEM, CEng, CSci, MA DPhil


Research Overview

Biomedical materials, Polymer composites, Hydroxyapatite, Tissue Biomechanics, Orthopaedic Devices, Collagen, Electrospinning, Bone graft substitutes


My research interests are in the development, testing and use of biomaterials for bone and joint replacement. In particular composites of bioactive ceramics and polymers which can encourage bone ongrowth yet have sufficient mechanical properties to be used for load bearing applications. The first of these materials is HAPEX which we manufactured for Gyrus ENT to use in middle ear implants. It is a composite of hydroxyapatite in polyethylene and has been used in over 500,000 patients. As can be seen from my publication list we have tried various methods of increasing it mechanical properties. 
The second of these materials are based on poly(lactic acid) and uses drawn fibres to reinforce a poly(lactic acid)-calcium phospate pre-preg. Again we are working on this material to improve its mechanical properties enabling it to be used for fracture fixation and in dental applications. We are also working on other methods of producing polymers or  collagen composites reinforced with bone mineral. 
Finally I have an interest in the mechanical properties of bone and understanding how it behaves as a material. In this area of my work I am involved in the behaviour of bone under load including the failure mechanisms of cancellous bone, the spongy bone at joint ends. I've tested a range of orthopaedic implants in model bones to understand how the implant and the supporting bone interact leading to clinical success or failure.