Skull biomechanics with Dr Mehran Moazen
What’s your area of research at UCL?
Over past ten years I have been looking into the biomechanics of bone and joints. It started with my PhD project where I studied questions about evolution and changes in primitive skulls. That, later on led to my interest in understanding the development of skulls and clinical conditions associated with it from a biomechanical point of view. There is a condition that I am working on called craniosynostosis.
Basically, you have several cranial joints in the skull, sutures, to allow brain expansion. However, the early fusion of these joints can led to abnormal skull growth. So what happens is – in a baby – the brain wants to grow but it is constrained, so the brain will try and grow wherever it can. This causes irregular skull shapes and so these children have to go through surgical procedures to correct their skulls.
In some cases, these children have to go through many surgical procedures. So the idea is – could we optimise the skull reconstruction, from a biomechanical point of view, with the hope that these children won’t have to go through so many operations?
How have you used mechanical engineering and computer models to do this?
With computer models we’ve had the opportunity to test and compare different skull reconstruction methods, to then comment on what is the optimal and best reconstruction method – at least from a biomechanical standpoint. But for us to have confidence in the results of these models we first need to show that we can predict skull growth. This is an on-going area of research that we are currently working on using animal models and also humans.
What are your favourite things about UCL?
A supportive and caring atmosphere. I have met so many great colleagues at UCL and I feel there are plenty of opportunities to make things happen, to translate our research to actual products and to have a real impact on life of people. This is something that really drives me – and working with craniosynostosis. I feel a responsibility towards improving quality of life for these children. At the end of the day, seeing a real impact on the society is what satisfies me and keeps me going.
You’re passionate about your research – what are other things you’re interested in?
I love sport. My passion for sport started when I was playing handball in primary school for my school team. I will never forget that we lost the final game of the year in Tehran where was I born and raised. We lost that game but I never lost my passion for sport. I also enjoy listening to music and cooking.