News
15/03/2013

3D printing breakthrough lands grad top job

Twenty three-year-old UOW graduate Rhys Cornock has been chosen to spearhead a new 3D printing unit at Melbourne’s St Vincent's Hospital.

When the AdBioFab unit opens next month, Rhys will lead a team of specialist technicians that will conduct cutting-edge research into areas such as bone regeneration and the controlled delivery of anti-epilepsy medication and other drugs into the brain.

As part of his Honours in Nanotechnology at UOW’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), Rhys helped develop new 3D printing techniques that can be used to build complex bio-scaffolds, that when implanted into the body, encourage tissue, muscle or bone regeneration.

These scaffolds, which encourage regeneration rather than scarring, could also be implanted into epilepsy patients to deliver drugs exactly where they’re needed – either in slow, steady doses or in a burst if the patient is having a seizure.

Rhys said bio-engineering presented unique opportunities for patient-specific applications.

“The great thing about additive fabrication is each individual design can be tailored quickly to the patient or to a custom fitting.

“For example, if you have a particular section of bone missing and you need a scaffold to fit in there, you an image the gap and convert it directly to a 3D model which can then be printed and matches exactly the patient’s needs.”

St Vincent’s is an ACES partner institute. Professor Gordon Wallace, Executive Research Director at ACES said the new 3D printing program, AdBioFab (which is funded by Professor Wallace’s Australian Laureate Fellowship), will mean ACES’ life-saving research is fast-tracked into clinical environments.

“This will put our scientists and engineers in direct contact with clinicians on a daily basis,” he said.

“This is expected to fast track the realisation of practical medical devices.”

Rhys said he’s ecstatic that his first job out of uni will see him working with more than 500 professionals from diverse fields— from research, clinical practice and education — to deliver life-saving health outcomes.

“I couldn’t have picked better honours project and only ACES could have facilitated it. Since then they’ve given me employment in an exciting and innovative field,” he said.

By Elise Pitt

UOW IN THE NEWS 

  • Twenty three year old UOW graduate Rhys Cornock will head a new 3D printing unit at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne.