Professor Andrea O'Connor
What are your research interests/background?
I am the Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and lead the Tissue Engineering Group at the University of Melbourne. My research is focussed on design, synthesis and fabrication of biomaterials, porous materials and antimicrobial nanomaterials. I am particularly interested in strategies for scale-up of tissue engineering including vascularisation, and design of antimicrobial materials for medical implants. I have published over 100 research articles, co-authored the chapter on Tissue Engineering for the major reference work ‘Plastic Surgery’ edited by Neligan and Gurtner, lectured on tissue engineering and biofabrication at the Bayreuth International Summer School, Germany, and was a finalist in the 2017 Graeme Clark Institute HealthTech Innovation Challenge. I also led the engineering team on the world-first Neopec clinical trial of breast reconstruction using tissue engineering, showing proof-of-principle of tissue engineering of large volumes of well vascularised fat tissue. I collaborate with a range of hospitals, medical research institutes and medical device companies to improve existing products, develop new devices and solve clinical problems.
What attracted you to teaching?
I enjoy sharing my knowledge about engineering and helping students to appreciate the potential applications of science and engineering, particularly how we can help to solve difficult challenges in human health for the benefit of society.
Why is it important to educate students on interdisciplinary topics such as stem cells and emerging technologies?
Solutions to challenges in human health and development of new technologies for medicine increasingly rely on understanding interdisciplinary topics and this is where breakthroughs are likely to occur. Education across disciplines not only improves students’ understanding but importantly also increases our ability to communicate deeply about the scientific and technical challenges we want to address.
How would you describe your approach to teaching?
My teaching is research-led, with insights from recent developments in the field and opportunities for students to gain practical experience.
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