Engineering and the Environment

Research Group: Bioengineering Science

Head of Group: Professor Martin Browne

Bioengineering covers the application of engineering mechanics in the human body. The Group has significant expertise in applying novel computational and experimental techniques for bioengineering applications.

Currently Active: Yes

Group Overview

Our computational work is particularly focused on finite element modelling to simulate time-related and adaptive biological processes. We use a wide range of pre- and post-processing (IDEAS, MIMICS and Patran) and analysis software (MARC, ANSYS, ABAQUS and PAM-CRASH) to generate models of human bones and joints from computed tomography data. These models allow us to assess the performance of different prosthesis designs in specific patients. We have the capabilities to generate specimen-specific FE models from computed tomography images and have developed numerical methods to simulate long-term failure scenarios, for example bone cement fatigue, surface wear and bone remodelling.

We also have significant expertise in experimental analysis of biological and engineered biomaterials at the cellular, tissue and organ levels. We are interested in the response of precursor cells to mechanical stimuli in developing tissue engineering approaches to enhance the regeneration of biological tissues in vitro. We are also interested in characterising matrix material properties of healthy and diseased tissues and the correlation of these differences to changes in composition and ultrastructure. We have expertise in the manipulation and handling of particles and cells, as well as characterisation using lab-on-chip technologies.

In 2008, a state-of-the-art bioengineering laboratory facility was established to support the main research activities of the Group. The £500,000 development, funded as part of the University’s strategic thrust in bioengineering, has four main suites for cell culture, tissue characterisation, microscopy and fabrication of lab-on-chip devices. The development has included major investment in equipment, including an atomic force microscope (with a nano-hardness stage) and an epifluorescent microscope. The laboratory provides an excellent platform for expansion of research in the areas of mechanobiology and sensors in biology.

Research themes

Our research themes fall into four distinct categories:

  • Performance assessment of orthopaedic implants
    • explore the behaviour of orthopaedic devices to improve their clinical performance from a patient's, surgeon's and manufacturer's point of view
    • apply probabalistic methods to fully characterise the effect and relative significance of variability (eg bone geometry, implant alignment) on medical implant performance
  • Mechanobiology and applications in regenerative medicine
    • experimental characterisation of biological tissue at the cellular, tissue and organ levels during normal physiology and disease (osteoporosis, osteoarthritis)
    • delineate the response of biological tissues to mechanical stimuli (mechanobiology) using experimental and computational approaches
    • develop tissue engineering approaches for regenerating biological tissues lost through disease or injury
  • Plant bioengineering
    • modelling of plant soil interaction
    • modelling of plant and crop growth
    • x-ray CT scanning of plant root growth
    • optimisation of plants and soil amendments in changing climate
  • Microfluidics and fluid flow modelling in biological systems
    • development of particle manipulation techniques with microfluidic systems to facilitate colloid processing, controlled acoustic particle and agglomorate manipulation
    • design of microfluidic chambers and channel networks integrating biosensing techniques to better understand cells and tissues within the microenvironment
    • integrate microfluidic design, particle manipulation and sensing technologies to develop analysis platforms and lab-on-chip devices
    • modelling and homogenisation of fluid flow and drug delivery in the circulatory system
    • modelling of lymphatic development, lymphangiogenesis and function
    • modelling of tissue fluid balance and immune

Contact us

  • Engineering Sciences Unit

    Engineering and the Environment
    Building 5 (Eustice)
    University of Southampton
    Highfield Campus
    Southampton SO17 1BJ

    Senior Administrative Officer: Sue Berger
    Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 2871
    Administrative Officer: Jo Laryea
    Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 5568



Selected publications associated with this group from the University of Southampton's electronic library (e-prints):


Pant, Sanjay, Bressloff, Neil W. and Limbert, Georges (2012) Geometry parameterization and multidisciplinary constrained optimization of coronary stents. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology, 11, (1-2), 61-82. (doi:10.1007/s10237-011-0293-3).
Jungmann, R., Szabo, M. E., Schitter, G., Tang, Raymond Yue-Sing, Vashishth, D., Hansma, P. K. and Thurner, P. J. (2011) Local strain and damage mapping in single trabeculae during three-point bending tests. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, 4, (4), 523-534. (doi:10.1016/j.jmbbm.2010.12.009 ). (PMID:21396601).
Atkin, Stephen L., Barrier, Sylvain, Cui, Zhenggang, Fletcher, Paul D.I., Mackenzie, Grahame, Panel, Vincent, Sol, Vincent and Zhang, Xunli (2011) UV and visible light screening by individual sporopollenin exines derived from Lycopodium clavatum (club moss) and Ambrosia trifida (giant ragweed). Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, 102, (3), 209-217. (doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2010.12.005). (PMID:2123297).
Dickinson, Alexander, Taylor, Andrew, Ozturk, H. and Browne, Martin (2011) Experimental validation of a finite element model of the proximal femur using digital image correlation and a composite bone model. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 133, (1), 014504-[6pp]. (doi:10.1115/1.4003129). (PMID:21186906).
Bah, Mamadou T., Nair, Prasanth B., Taylor, Mark and Browne, Martin (2011) Efficient computational method for assessing the effects of implant positioning in cementless total hip replacements. Journal of Biomechanics, 44, (7), 1417-1422. (doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.12.027).
Mavrogordato, Mark, Taylor, Mark, Taylor, Andrew and Browne, Martin (2011) Real time monitoring of progressive damage during loading of a simplified total hip stem construct using embedded acoustic emission sensors. Medical Engineering & Physics, 33, (4), 395-406. (doi:10.1016/j.medengphy.2010.10.025).
Mazzitelli, Stefania, Capretto, Lorenzo, Carugo, Dario, Zhang, Xunli, Piva, Roberta and Nastruzzi, Claudio (2011) Optimised production of multifunctional microfibres by microfluidic chip technology for tissue engineering applications. Lab on a Chip, 11, 1776-1785. (doi:10.1039/c1lc20082h).

Book Section

Cheng, Wei, Capretto, Lorenzo, Hill, Martyn and Zhang, Xunli (2011) Organic nanoparticles using microfluidic technology for drug-delivery applications. In, Kumar, Challa S.S.R. (ed.) Polymeric Nanomaterials. Weinheim, DE, Wiley, 221-257. (Nanomaterials for the Life Sciences).
Capretto, Lorenzo, Cheng, Wei, Hill, Martyn and Zhang, Xunli (2011) Micromixing within microfluidic devices. In, Topics in Current Chemistry. London, GB, Springer , 1-42. (doi:10.1007/128_2011_150).


Dickinson, Alexander (2011) Development of computational biomechanical tools to assess the performance of the resurfaced hip joint. Univiersity of Southampton, School of Engineering Sciences, Doctoral Thesis .


Members of staff associated with this group:

Research projects

Research projects associated with this group:

Determining the optimal mechanical requirements for early intervention devices in the knee

Development and assesment of embedded acousitc emission technology of non-descructive assessment of cemented hip replacement constructs

Designing biomaterials for tissue engineering and tissue regeneration

Imaging and modelling of the interference fit in cementless joint replacement

Cochlear implant device failures

Blocking blood supply to starve cancerous tumours

Looking after our skin

Developing Hip Replacements: Simulations and Experimental Methods

Development of a new knee replacement

Experimental and analytical techniques for the assessment of in vitro implant migration in polymer foam models

Simulation of the passive and active motions of the replaced knee-effect of mal-alignment and ligament strains

The science and engineering of shape-shifters

X-ray Computed Tomography and image-based modelling of plant roots and nutrient uptake

Sensing Skin Health

Feature extraction in clinical data

Validation of a spatial-temporal soil water movement and plant water uptake model

Wear Assessment and Forensic Analysis of Failed Hip Replacements

Local strain and microdamage assessment during micromechanical testing of single bovine trabeculae and cortical bone tissue

Abrasion-corrosion of cast cocrmo in simulated hip joint environment

Large scale population based finite analysis of cementless tibial tray fixation

Multi-parameter computational and experimental investigations into the robustness of cementless total hip replacements

MXL project – Improving Joint Surgery

The effects of substrate mechanics on keratinocytes and epidermal stem cell behaviour at wound sites

Optimising plant P use for arable farming

Structural integrity assessment of novel polymer based knee implants

The effects of ageing on hearing and auditory processing

The evidence-base for different auditory processing management strategies, programmes and software

Investigating effects of estrogen on trabecular bone mineralisation

Finite element modelling of biological connective soft tissue - application to the ligaments of the human knee

Modelling the mechanical behaviour of the interface between prosthesis and bone

Multiple femur finite element analysis of the resurfaced femoral head

Combined musculoskeletal and finite element modelling of total hip replacement to account for surgical and patient related factors

Assessment of ankle arthrodesis with internal fixation using finite element analysis

Characterisation and computational modelling of acrylic bone cement polymerisation

Modelling the Lymphatic System

Organic nanoparticles for drug delivery – size matters

National audit of bilateral cochlear implants

Telemedicine in cochlear implants

Dynamic modelling of the effect of physical activity on glycaemic control in people with type 1 diabetes

Enhanced pre-clinical assesment of total knee replacement using computational modelling with experimental corroboration and probabili

computational simulation of long term cement mantle failure in total hip replacement

EnDuRE: Hip Resurfacing Implants for Durability and Biocompatibility

Modelling our tiny uninvited guests

3D printing small implants

Application of ultrasound standing wave fields for augmentation of cartilage bioengineering strategies

Development and evaluation of a new device for the clinical measurement of tissue blood flow and tissue oxygenation

How does the stiffness of a wound affect how it heals?

The Temporal Processing and Dichotic Listening of Musicians versus Non-Musicians

Top-down processes and auditory processing

Simulation of tissue differentiation in uncemented hip implants based on a mechanoregulatory hypothesis

The application of probabilistic methods for the assessment of hip implant performance

The computational assesment of mechanical fixation faliure in cemented total hip arthroplasty

Assesment of short-term knee arthroplasty function using clinical measure, motion analysis and musculoskeletal modelling


Application of novel acoustic trapping perfusion bioreactor to generate 3-D co-culture system for modelling tumour microenvironment interactions

Understanding the physics of wet shaving

Effect of total knee replacement design and surgical technique on patello-femoral joint performance: an explicit finite element study

Finite element analysis of the proximal implanted tibia in relation to implant lossening


Large scale, multi femur computational stress analysis using a statistical shape and intensity model

Experimental and Theoretical Investigations of Lymphatic Fluid Flows and Immunology

Nanoparticles for energy saving glazing

Cochlear implantation on both sides of the age spectrum: in the very young and in the ageing population

Micromechanical aspects of fatigue failure in conventional and carbon nanotube-reinforced acrylic bone cement

Probabilistic finite-element analysis of the uncemented total hip replacement

Finite element analysis of a cementless proximal femoral stem in relation to early stem stability and interface bone strain

Finite element simulation of surface wear in total knee joint replacement

Rapid Diagnosis of Allergy to Drugs using a Microfluidic Platform


Orthopaedics tribology testing

Equipment for tribology testing of orthopaedic devices and materials available at Southampton:

  • 10-station wear simulator: for assessing wear performance of total and resurfacing hip replacement devices
  • Southampton proprietary hip comparator (using reciprocating pendulum test technology)
  • For small-scaling testing: Miniaturised benchtop tribology simulators, for recreating physiologically representative loads and kinematics in materials POD testing for hip/knee biomaterials

Other standard characterisation test equipment is also available for conventional materials performance testing. 

The following facilities are ‘shared' facilities with other research groups: 


Postgraduate opportunities

Postgraduate programmes: