Meet the Team

Our core team is formed of academics from Exeter and Cardiff Universities, with over 70 years’ combined experience in spine modelling, imaging, and biomechanical engineering. Learn more about each of the team members below.

We also have a Project Advisory Board to provide additional expertise and guidance – you can view the Board’s profiles here.

Prof Jude Meakin

Jude is an Associate Professor in Spine Biomechanics at the University of Exeter, and has worked on spinal research for over 20 years. She is the former Director of the Exeter MR (magnetic resonance) Research Centre, and recipient of the BackCare Award in 2014.

Jude is the Principal Investigator (lead) on this research project, which is based on her pilot work on image-driven modelling. Her expertise is in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and she will be using MRI data to understand the properties of the discs and ligaments in the spine.
View Jude’s full profile here.

Dr Timothy Holsgrove

Tim is a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Exeter. He holds the Robert Ling Fellowship, which supports his work with clinicians at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in the Hip Research Unit.

Tim is an expert in experimental testing in spine biomechanics, and in this project he will be using a new six-axis spine simulator at the University of Exeter, to understand forces on the discs and joints in the spine in vitro (on spine samples in the lab).
View Tim’s full profile here.

Prof Akbar Javadi

Akbar is Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Exeter, with over 20 years’ experience in computer modelling across a wide range of engineering fields, including biomechanics, geomechanics, desalination systems and renewable energy.

Akbar will lead on developing the computer model, using a new machine-learning method he has pioneered.
View Akbar’s full profile here.

Prof Cathy Holt

Cathy is Professor of Biomechanics and Director of the Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Research Facility at Cardiff University. She has over 24 years’ experience in musculoskeletal biomechanics, with particular interest in 3D motion analysis, biomechanics and orthopaedic engineering.

Cathy will lead on the in vivo testing (imaging volunteers) at the MB Research Facility.

View Cathy’s full profile here.

Dr David Williams

David is a Research Associate at Cardiff University, with over 6 years’ experience in medical imaging and musculoskeletal biomechanics. He developed the bespoke high-speed video x-ray system at Cardiff University that will be used for imaging volunteers (in vivo) in this research.

David will be responsible for acquiring and analysing the complex in vivo data to compare with the computer modelling results.
View David’s full profile here.

Dr Emily Kelly

Emily is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Exeter, with experience in biomedical engineering research, particularly the use of image-based computational models to assess soft tissue health and biomechanical differences between people.

Emily will be responsible for developing the subject-specific models using the collected in vitro and in vivo data.
View Emily’s full profile here.

Dr Michael Ward

Michael is a Research Associate based at the University of Exeter, with over six years of experience in biomedical engineering research, as well as first-hand clinical experience.

Michael’s remit for the project will entail in vitro specimen preparation, MRI & CT imaging, processing the complex data (DICOM segmentation), cutting guide development, and six-axis simulator biomechanical testing.
View Michael’s full profile here.

Project Advisory Board

We are grateful to have representatives from a range of universities who oversee the project and offer their expertise.

Prof Richard Hall – Chair

Areas of expertise: biomechanics; medical engineering; medical devices; biotribology; spine; hip, pre-clinical testing; surgical oncology; bone metastases.

View Richard’s full profile here.

Prof Val Sparkes

Areas of expertise: management of musculoskeletal disorders inc. physiotherapy and rehabilitation.

View Val’s full profile here.

Prof Alan Breen

Areas of expertise: musculoskeletal research, back pain disorders, fluoroscopic imaging.

View Alan’s full profile here.

Dr Alex Breen

Areas of expertise: spine biomechanics, back pain disorders.

View Alex’s full profile here.

Associate Professor Dr Steven Blackburn

Areas of expertise:
Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement, biomedical engineering.

View Steven’s full profile here.

Mr Sashin Ahuja

Areas of expertise: spinal surgery and biomechanics, scoliosis, back and pelvic pain, osteoarthritis.

View Sashin’s full profile here.

Prof Hendrik Schmidt

Areas of expertise: assessment of spinal mechanics, morphology and motion.

View Hendrik’s full profile here.