New biofabrication institute opens in Brisbane

HBI clinical director Michael Wegels. Image credit: Metro North Hospital and Health Service.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath has opened the Herston Biofabrication Institute, an innovative new facility at the forefront of healthcare research and technologies in Queensland.

The $10 million institute at the Herston Health Precinct , located on the grounds of Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH), was funded by Metro North Hospital and Health Service with a $5 million donation from RBWH Foundation.

The Institute includes a full mechanical workshop, a number of 3D printers in the printing lab, a digital innovation hub, a tissue culture laboratory and patient consultation rooms.

“The Herston Biofabrication Institute will bring together clinicians, academics and industry leaders to advance knowledge and technology in 3D printing, scanning and modelling of medical devices and tissues such as bone,” Minister D’Ath said.

“It will combine engineering and medical expertise to develop new medical devices and new ways of working.

Key focus areas include orthopaedic surgery, burns and dermatology, vascular surgery, urology, cancer care, neurosurgery, craniofacial surgery and anaesthesia and intensive care.

D’Ath said the team at HBI hopes to integrate biofabrication technologies seamlessly into everyday patient care within 10 years.

“We are looking at everything in the biofabrication space from bioactive 3D printed implants to 3D bioprinting for skin regeneration in burns patients.

“Chronic disease, trauma, cancer or any other misfortune may cause loss of part of a patient’s body. Modern medicine is capable of remarkable things to overcome these losses but usually at some cost.

“But imagine if we could replace the part that was missing or defective with something that fits perfectly and has been created from their own tissues with nothing more than a small sample? This is what we are working towards here at HBI.

“In addition, this new facility will assist with anatomical surgical planning through 3D scanning and printing. We are also looking at new ways of teaching modern, highly sophisticated skills to ensure that our clinicians of the future are well-prepared.”

The HBI is a 30-person team with ties to academic partner, The University of Queensland.

There are more than 30 projects underway across seven key clinical streams, which means researchers and clinicians can combine efforts under one roof to advance results for Queensland patients.

Herston Biofabrication Institute will commence a number of trials this year for current research projects.