2013 THOMAS HAWKSLEY GOLD MEDAL: JAN-M BRANDT

The 2013 Thomas Hawksley Gold Medal was awarded to a team of researchers from the Concordia Hip and Knee Institute in Winnipeg, Canada. Dr Jan-Mels Brandt was the lead author for the paper entitled: ‘Clinical failure analysis of contemporary ceramic-on-ceramic total hip replacements’, the co-authors were Trevor Gascoyne, Leah Guenther, Andrew Allen, Dr David Hedden,  Dr Thomas Turgeon and Dr Eric Bohm. 

jan-brandt-bw-lrCeramic-on-ceramic hip replacements have received much attention over the years, and even more so since metal-on-metal hip articulations have been largely withdrawn from the market due to concern about high metal ion concentrations and implant failure. For young, highly active patients, ceramic-on-ceramic total hip replacements are a reliable option without the pitfalls of detrimental metal ions. New improved ceramic materials exhibit low wear characteristics and, despite the common misconception, a low incidence of failure due to fracture.  

Jan describes the paper: “It addresses the failure analysis of ceramic-on-ceramic hip replacements using damage assessment techniques combined with patient information to identify influential factors that affect the wear process in vivo. These factors ranged from design parameters and surgical techniques to patient characteristics; and provide both the implant designer and the surgeons with valuable information.”

“I was aware that we had a great data set on the retrieved implants and the 815 patients that had received ceramic-on-ceramic total hip replacements over the past decade. I think we all enjoyed working on this project as it took several years of going through clinical data, surface analysis data and implant retrieval assessment. The value of this paper first dawned on us when we submitted it to the German Orthopaedic Society and it won the annual Heinz-Mittelmeier Award in 2013.”

The tribology sector is changing; there is a shift from costly physical testing to more computational product development and in silico testing. Jan explains: “This reduces the overall development costs of new products and the time-to-market. Even the most difficult test scenarios will be done by computational methods within the next decade.”

Jan enjoyed working with motorbikes from an early age, and did an apprenticeship as a mechanic for 3 years at ABB in Germany. This led him to the University of Essen, where he graduated with a degree (Dipl-Ing.) in Mechanical Engineering, followed by a PhD from the Department of Mechatronics and Mechanical Engineering, University of Waterloo, Canada. He has been working in tribology for more than 15 years and has recently become the Director, Basics Tribology at the Competence Center Surface Technology, Schaeffler Technologies in Germany. Here he will turn his skills to a new industrial sector: “I will still be working in the vast area of tribology, but now I will be able to address the large issue of reducing friction and wear in moving parts, with the goal to reduce CO2 emissions significantly, as well as the overall costs to societies and economies around the globe.”

Jan describes what winning the award means to him: ”I am extremely honoured and humbled to be awarded this highly prestigious award. The award also goes to the team that helped to collect the data and also to the staff who are not on the author list, but still contributed to the overall goal of making hip replacement surgery more successful at the Concordia Hip and Knee Institute in Winnipeg, Canada.”

He finds engineering a dynamic and exciting industry: “Times are changing fast and engineers need to be flexible to adjust to a quickly changing market place.  In the future, development costs for all products will continually be reduced, so engineers need to be creative to find innovative, cost reducing solutions without compromising the overall goal of developing a safe and valuable product.”

Find out more about the Thomas Hawksley Gold Medal Award