translational medicine, Dr Lloyd Reeve-Johnson has been awarded a part-time
2015 Avant Doctor in Training Research Scholarship to test novel synthetic bone
matrix scaffolds in animals to develop simple and affordable surgical
interventions to heal large bone deficits in patients.
Reeve-Johnson, (pictured) who is also a veterinary surgeon, is currently
Principal House Officer at the West Moreton Health Authority, Queensland
Health. He also completed a PhD in the United Kingdom. He has held roles across
veterinary, pharmacology and medicine fields both in Australia and
internationally and has published well over 100 studies on pre-clinical
research topics. His diverse background also includes working in
aid-in-development programmes in developing and war torn countries.
Research hopes to make a difference in remote areas and developing countries
“The purpose of translational medicine approaches is to work across
geographical, cultural, language and training boundaries - it’s incredibly
exciting and it makes you think in very different ways,” he says. “I have been
lucky enough to live on five continents and travel in over 100 countries, so I
have seen the differences in people’s experiences.”
What struck Dr
Reeve-Johnson while working in these countries was how, for example, a
prosthesis which may not have been in his words the “Ferrari of its day,” could
still significantly improve people’s lives. “The success was very often
astounding with patients being able to walk again or walking again with a
slight limp rather than not walk at all,” he says.
considers how we can diffuse these innovations to obtain the greatest impact
and often that’s in rural areas and developing countries.”
of novel prototype implants in animal models
Healing of large
bone deficits remains a considerable challenge for orthopaedic surgeons; most
notably, following resection of cancer or massive trauma.
Reeve-Johnson aims to conduct a literature review on the use of bone matrix
scaffolds to repair large bone defects in animals and select
the best model to test a synthetic bone matrix implant developed at the
Queensland University of Technology.
A proof-of-concept study in which
biodegradable composite scaffolds made up of medical grade polycaprolactone and
calcium phosphates, and tissue growth stimulators were implanted in three and
six centimetre tibial bone defects in sheep, has demonstrated its viability to
heal large bone gaps.
“The results were very encouraging and the
synthetic bone matrix definitely helped to give more stability over large bone
gaps,” he says. “Preliminary data suggests this synthetic bone matrix has
several advantages over the current practice of autograft repair.”
Validating safety and effectiveness before moving into human
A second phase of the study is intended to focus
on developing the current animal model and evaluate the use
of bone morphogenic proteins to increase the rate of healing and strength of
the repair and validating its safety and effectiveness to progress to
use in humans.
“If we can show that there is no major risk of cancer or
toxic effects and it has positive healing properties, we could then consider
human patients, ” Dr Reeve-Johnson says.
The research will be
supervised byhis mentor, Professor Michael Schuetz, an international
research leader in trauma care and orthopaedic implant design and Professor and
Chair of Trauma, Queensland University of Technology. His collaboration with
Professor Schuetz, also Director of Trauma, Princess Alexandra Hospital,
Brisbane, began after he assisted him as a final year medical student on a
“Ironically, the research came about during the course
of a very complex hip operation. There had been a tragic accident in Papua New
Guinea and the patient was flown into the Wesley Hospital for specialist
treatment,” Dr Reeve-Johnson says. “I heard that Professor Schuetz was
performing the operation and I asked if I could scrub in. It gave me a great
opportunity to chat over the course of a very long operation and he became very
interested in some of the work I had done.”
provides opportunity for collaboration
Dr Reeve-Johnson is very
grateful to Avant for the scholarship and says the funding has helped to get
this innovative research off the ground.
“The funding has been a
great boost because it is so difficult to win funding,” he says. “It gives us a
starting point and although the results are important, it’s more about the
opportunity to make contacts and get involved in research.”
He says the
scholarship has already been extremely valuable, allowing him to pay for
flights after being invited to speak on translational medicine at the
International European Association for Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology
Congress in France and the Royal Academy of Sciences in Madrid in 2015.
Attending the congresses has enabled him to forge new collaborations and share
ideas with senior international scientists.
After his presentation at
the congress in Madrid Dr Reeve-Johnson became the first Australian to be
elected to join the Royal Academy of Sciences of Spain and given a medal on
behalf of the King of Spain. He has also been appointed to the Royal Academy
of Veterinary Sciencesas an international corresponding
scientist and now maintains a strong collaboration with the large Complutense
University of Madrid as an honorary collaborator. “My objective is to continue
to find other areas of knowledge cross-fertilisation between human medicine and
other species,” he says.
Does your research deserve
Applications for the Avant Doctor in Training Research
Scholarship Program 2016 are open. Twenty-two scholarships are available – more
than any other year to date – worth $450,000, for both emerging and experienced
Apply online on the Avant website
or for more information download our Doctor in Training Research Scholarship Information Pack.
If you have any
questions, please contact the Doctor in Training Research Scholarship team at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications close 31 May 2016.
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