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Biomedical Engineering Research Group

The Biomedical Engineering Research Group has gained international recognition for its research in a unique field.

We work to understand how the body responds to trauma, implants and other medical technologies. Our research allows us to engineer solutions that will have positive benefits for medical patients, the sports industry, including individual sports people, the health care industry, the legal profession, the safety of children and society in general.


Through the application of engineering principles, biomedical engineering aims to solve the problems faced by modern medicine and health care.

Orthopaedic engineering

Current work in this area involves the design development and testing of orthopaedic implants and how they affect the patient. Analysing how the body moves before and after an implant helps us to ensure that the correct implants are used and the correct patient care is given.

One of our main focuses is on exploring the biomechanics of human movement and its biomedical applications to osteoarthritis, joint re-alignment, and joint replacement surgery. We use 3D motion analysis, alongside mathematical models, to quantify the amount of lower limb function restored following total knee replacement surgery

We are part of the multidisciplinary Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre, which is carrying out research into the causes, effects and treatment of osteoarthritis using the above techniques.

Our project supervisors are drawn from a wide range of areas, including paediatrics, orthopaedics, pathology, biochemistry and clinical science.

Forensic engineering

Current research includes the biomechanics of head injuries, shaken baby syndrome, falls and limb fractures, knife wounds, blunt impact trauma and the kinematics of assaults.

Head injuries to children can be caused by falls to playground surfaces, cycling accidents, shaken baby syndrome and other traumas. Through understanding the nature of the injuries and how they occur, it’s possible for us to engineer solutions that can help prevent future injuries.

Research projects include the use of industry leading Solid Body and Finite Element Analysis software to develop a computational model to anatomically and biomechanically represent an infant through key developmental stages, which enables the Group to investigate injuries from accidental and non-accidental scenarios.

Other projects involve collaborations with the University Hospital of Wales to investigate the performance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and the efficacy of child safety equipment.

Trauma science

Trauma science encompasses the evaluation and management of injuries. Our group has a particular interest in injuries associated with sporting activities particularly football.

We work closely with medical clinicians, clinical scientists, physiotherapists, sports engineers/scientists and professional footballers.

Specific projects include investigation into Achilles tendon pathology, sacro-iliac dysfunction, Actovegin and its use in treating soft tissue injuries, head injuries due to impact on sports surfaces, biomechanics of player/surface interaction on artificial pitches, player perception of playing on various surfaces, critical evaluation of various physiotherapy and sports science assessment tools, and blood indices markers in elite athletes.

We also work closely with an NHS medical devices evaluation unit funded by NICE. The role of the unit is to critically examine medical treatments and technologies.

We have also been working with FIFA to develop sports playing surfaces that will minimise injuries to elite athletes. This research is being carried out in collaboration with the Department of Sports Science at Cardiff Metropolitan University and looks at player/surface interaction associated with artificial football pitches.

Medical electronics

Radiotherapy is often used as a treatment for cancer. This can have an adverse effect on patients with cardiac pacemakers. The leads in the pacemaker can become unstable and cause it to stop working.

Research in this area aims to find a solution to this problem by determining the level of radiation therapy that will effectively treat cancer without damaging the patient’s pacemaker.

High-frequency sensors and microfluidic research are also being used to develop medical devices, such as a blood glucose monitor. For diabetics the constant process of measuring their blood sugar levels is painful and uncomfortable, particularly for children and older people.

We have been working to develop a non-invasive approach to measuring blood sugar levels that does not involve breaking the skin. It will also be possible to constantly monitor blood sugar levels in a patient and sound an alert if levels fall below a specified amount.

Working with Cedar

We also work closely with Cedar, a healthcare technology research centre which specialises in medical device evaluation and brings together Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and the School of Engineering.

Since 2010, Cedar’s main activity has been evaluating medical devices for the NHS National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The staff at Cedar are also involved in facilitating clinical trials, the development of patient reported outcome measures (PROMs), providing evidence reviews for health, government and industry organisations, and research collaborations with academics and clinicians in Cardiff and beyond. The researchers at Cedar come from a variety of scientific and health professional backgrounds, and as a team they have expertise in:

  • evidence review (systematic reviewing, rapid reviewing, critical appraisal)
  • health economics (modelling for decision-making)
  • standards and regulation of medical devices
  • qualitative research methods (interviewing, surveys)
  • medical statistics
  • clinical research (interventional trials, registry and data linkage)
  • adoption of medical technologies.

Funded projects

  • Arthritis Research UK funded Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre
  • CEDAR/NICE Approx. £500,000 over three years
  • Investigating the repeatability of EMG measurements, and the feasibility of the use of inertial sensors in quantifying physical function sponsored by Delsys, Inc.

Lead researcher

Cathy Holt

Professor Cathy Holt


+44 (0)29 2087 4533

Academic staff

Gemma Whatling

Dr Gemma Whatling

Senior Lecturer - Teaching and Research

+44 (0)29 2087 6348
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Dr Carl Byrne

Lecturer - Teaching and Research

+44 (0)29 2087 4037
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Dr Mike Jones

Senior Lecturer - Teaching and Research

+44 (0)29 2087 5952
Len Nokes

Professor Len Nokes


+44 (0)29 2087 5907