Cochlear implants, heart pacemakers, MRI scanners, laser surgery, hip and knee replacement, and surgical glues – these almost-everyday innovations, once thought of as impossible, were made a reality by biomedical engineers. At the University of Sydney, the next generation of futuristic biomedical breakthroughs are meeting the many challenges facing humanity as life expectancy and population burgeons.
For the 1.5 million people around the world suffering Retinitis Pigmentosa, the prospect of being legally blind by age 40 may be averted by the Phoenix 99 Bionic Eye being developed by Professor Gregg Suaning and his multidisciplinary team. Now in fabrication and testing, this groundbreaking device aims to restore sight to the blind through electrical stimulation of nerves inside the retina – an approach akin to the way that cochlear implants provide an effective treatment of deafness.
Treating spinal injuries, a 3D-printed device made from synthetic bone bioceramic invented by Professor Hala Zreiqat in collaboration with Allegra Orthopaedics is likely to replace the need for bone grafts. The fully-synthetic spinal cage works to regenerate bone under spinal load conditions and can be completely resorbed by the body, leaving it and the intervertebral space free of foreign materials.
Professor Fernando Calamante, Director of the new Sydney Imaging Centre, and his team are developing new MRI techniques to map the structural and functional connections in the brain. Their work in epilepsy could improve the lives of 65 million sufferers worldwide by furthering our understanding of seizure onset and providing a framework for the development and testing of new anti-epileptic drugs.
See how we're redefining possible in other areas of research.
 https://www.epilepsy.org.au/about-epilepsy/facts-and-statistics/ accessed 2 May 2018.