Where did biomechanics lead Simon?
Meet Professor Simon Roe.
He studied Biomechanics here at GSBmE in 1992 and is one of our most illustrious alumni.
He is now a teacher of orthopedic surgery at North Carolina State University. He uses his biomechanics training and knowledge from GSBmE every day in his teachings.
Read our interview with Simon below. We particularly like his fun memories from his time here, including bodysurfing at lunchtime. We also love his excellent tips for new graduates finding their first jobs. Read on....
1. What drew you to biomedical engineering?
I got my BVSc from the University of Queensland and then spent 2 years at the University of Melbourne doing a Surgical Internship. I was then very fortunate to be selected for a Residency in Small Animal Surgery at the University of Illinois. This program included doing a Master of Science, as a publication is a requirement for board certification with the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. I connected with an anatomy professor, Dr. Gerry Pijanowski, who had a PhD in biomechanics. He guided me through a project on the effect of sterilization on bone allograft strength. I was very interested in orthopaedic surgery, and learning more about the engineering side of that science was very exciting. After my residency, I took a Registrar position at the University of Sydney. A past mentor told me about research at the University of New South Wales, and they were looking for a surgeon to work on a project that had recently been funded involving the modification of collagen crosslinks in a ligament allograft. It was a perfect match of my surgical and biomechanics training. I also got to do surgery for other projects during my time there, and helped develop animal models to test out new ideas.
2. What are your fun memories of studying here at the school?
I remember getting my first computer - a 286 PC with the large floppy discs. I learnt DOS, and did my statistics for my thesis using Minitab. I remember developing testing methods for cruciate ligaments, and seeing just how incredibly strong they are when they are healthy. I made many good friends, and they helped me celebrate my 30th birthday in style. I rode a bike most places, though used a car to go to the beach to bodysurf at lunchtime, when I could.
3. To what degree do you still use the info from your biomechanics degree?
I use my biomechanics knowledge and training every day as I teach orthopaedic surgery. I lecture at a number of courses on engineering principles applied to orthopaedics. I do some guest lectures in graduate courses in the biomechanics courses at NCSU. I am Deputy Editor for a veterinary orthopaedic journal, and review most of the papers that are submitted that relate to biomechanics. I also review for a number of other veterinary journals. I wrote a chapter on the principles of internal fixation of fractures for the major small animal surgery text that is used by residents in the US, and am known for explaining area moment of inertia to non-engineers, and helping them understand why it is so important in fracture repair.
4. What contributions to the world of science are you most proud of?
I did a number of studies evaluating orthopaedic wire and how it is tied, and most new surgeons use the techniques that I found to be superior. I also evaluated sutures used for cruciate ligament injury in the dog knee. Related to that, I studies the isometry of that suture when placed in a patient. Most recently, I've been involved in understanding the stability of total hip prostheses in dogs. I do this surgery frequently, and have used the information we developed to help ensure more successful outcomes from the surgery.
5. What advice might you have for graduates in finding their first job?
Focus on what makes you unique and try to find the niche that suits. For me, adding my biomechanics skills on top of my surgical skills made me highly sort-after for academic positions at veterinary schools around the world. It was a pretty amazing journey that led to a position in one of the best veterinary schools in the US.