Professor Joanne Tipper

Professor Joanne Tipper


Professor Tipper moved into the multidisciplinary research field of medical engineering in the mid 1990’s after completing a PhD in skin microbiology. Over the last 20 years she has been responsible for developing methodologies for isolating wear particles generated by total joint replacements from both periprosthetic tissues and simulator lubricants. With over 70 peer reviewed publications on the isolation of UHMWPE, metal and ceramic particles and the biological responses to wear debris her work has contributed to the understanding of implant failure and the development of longer lasting, more reliable devices. Career highlights include the award of an EPSRC Advanced Fellowship to study “Patient-specific responses to wear particles” and invitations to participate in the writing of the ASTM and ISO standards on wear particle isolation. Working alongside engineers Williams, Fisher and Hall in Leeds and Emami (Sweden), Peng (Australia) Kurtz (USA) and partnering with industry (DePuy Synthes, Ionbond, Invibio), current projects include isolation, characterisation and determination of the cellular responses to wear particles from new and novel materials including silicon nitride based coating systems, antioxidant polyethylenes e.g. vitamin E UHMWPE, PEEK and CFR-PEEK and carbon nanotube/graphene polyethylene composites. New and expanding areas of interest include investigation of spinal cord cellular responses to wear products from spinal implants and instrumentation alongside projects investigating neural stem cell and primary neural cell responses to matrix stiffness of novel hydrogel scaffolds for central nervous system repair. Prof Tipper is formerly the Programme Director for three Doctoral Training Centres in Tissue Engineering and Medical and Biological Engineering, which currently comprise over 80 PhD students.

She has recently moved to become Head of School of Biomedical Engineering at University of Technology Sydney.

Research interests

Research Activities

  1. Isolation and characterisation of polymer, metal, ceramic and coating wear particles from periprosthetic tissues and simulator lubricants from hip, knee, ankle and spinal replacement devices using novel methodologies and a variety of imaging techniques e.g. field emission gun SEM, TEM. In addition, using simple configuration wear simulators we can generate clinically relevant wear particles for cell culture experiments.
  2. Host cell responses to orthopaedic device wear particles and products including macrophage responses to polymer particles (including antioxidant UHMWPEs containing vitamin E and hindered phenols), metal particles (CoCr, stainless steel, Ti) and ceramic wear particles (alumina, ZTPA, SiN ceramic-like coatings) to investigate inflammation, osteolysis, cell membrane toxicity, oxidative stress and particle biocompatibility and toxicity.
  3. Spinal devices, instrumentation and injury with collaborators Prof Richard Hall and Dr James Phillips (UCL). Numerous challenges exist in developing instrumentation and devices for use in this area, the close proximity to the spinal cord and sensitive neural tissues is the main issue, however, also of importance is the increased range of periprosthetic tissues i.e. meninges, nerves, roots, spinal cord, blood vessels; the proximity to major vessels and organs and the catastrophic consequences of failure of these types of devices as well as the surgical difficulties (access, proximity of vessels). Significant challenges exist around understanding wear of total disc replacements in the lumbar and cervical spine, biological responses to wear products (both particulate and ions) in this physiological complex environment and around the post injury biological cascade that inhibits nerve repair. We are using 3D hydrogels (natural and synthetic) to create central nervous system models, which provide a more realistic spatial environment for neurons and glial cells than traditional 2D culture systems. They allow continuous observation and controlled manipulation, thereby facilitating analysis of cellular interactions. We are currently investigating neuronal and glial cell responses to spinal instrumentation wear products, spinal cord injury impact forces and the effects of changing matrix stiffness on cellular response.

Personal research interests lie primarily in the following areas:

  • Joint Replacement and Substitution
  • Functional Spinal Interventions
  • Tissue Re-engineering


  • Post Graduate Certificate of Learing & Teaching in Higher Education, 2010
  • PhD Microbiology 1994
  • BSc (Hons) Biotechnology, 1990

Professional memberships

  • Royal Society of Biology
  • Orthopaedic Research Society
  • British Orthopaedic Research Society
  • Tissue & Cell Engineering Society

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering

Current postgraduate researchers

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