Orthopaedic Engineering Research at Vancouver Hospital and UBC

In October 1997, a joint research initiative in Orthopaedic Engineering began at The University of British Columbia and Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre.This initiative, the Division of Orthopaedic Engineering Research, was directed by new UBC recruit, Dr. Thomas Oxland. The division was a collaborative effort between the Departments of Orthopaedics and Mechanical Engineering and it was located at the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) site in the VGH Research Pavilion. Under Dr. Oxland’s leadership, the division was highly productive and, in collaboration with clinician researchers from the Department of Orthopaedics and other UBC-based and international collaborators, the division made many important contributions in the areas of spine, spinal cord, knee hip, and shoulder biomechanics. In 2002, Dr. Oxland was one of the principal investigators on the successful Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grant to construct a building and infrastructure for the International Collaboration for Repair Discoveries (ICORD) research centre. ICORD is a spinal cord injury (SCI) research centre at VGH with research focused on improving treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention of SCI as well on novel methods for functional recovery after SCI. Dr. Oxland was also centrally involved in bringing a second research centre to UBC. This centre, the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, was focused on hip and musculoskeletal health, pathologies and injuries. The Centre for Hip Health received CFI and CFI-administered Research Hospital Funding. Today the Centre for Hip Health is an active research centre with extensive bioengineering, orthopaedic research and medical imaging facilities and it is located at VGH. ICORD and the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility both have numerous research collaborations with the Departments of Orthopaedics and Mechanical Engineering and with many other centres, departments and investigators at UBC, locally and internationally.

In 2003, Biomechanical Engineer, Dr. Peter Cripton was recruited to the Department of Mechanical Engineering and to ICORD at UBC. Dr. Cripton joined the Division of Orthopaedic Engineering Research and also established the UBC Injury Biomechanics Laboratory which was collaborative between the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Orthopaedics and the ICORD and Centre for Hip Health Research Centres. Injury Biomechanics Laboratory research was focused on better understanding and improving methods and devices for preventing injuries.

In the summer of 2009, the Department of Orthopaedics was restructured to improve alignment of its research activities with the ICORD and Center for Hip Health research centres. Faculty of the division of Orthopaedic Engineering Research were realigned to research roles within the clinical divisions of the Department of Orthopaedics and within the ICORD and Centre for Hip Health Research Centres. The Division of Orthopaedic Engineering Research was deleted from the Department of Orthopaedics departmental structure. At this time, Dr. Cripton and Dr. Oxland collaboratively established the UBC Orthopaedic and Injury Biomechanics group within new, custom laboratory space in the ICORD section on the 5th floor of the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre on the VGH campus.