The Medical Engineering Research Facility Of The Queensland University Of Technology Becomes New Home For The MAFAC Research

The second part of the Tagliacozzi facial anatomy research will be conducted at the Medical Engineering Research Facility (MERF) of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). This comes after the University of Melbourne’s Department of Anatomy was unable to assist with ongoing research.

The Medical Engineering Research Facility (MERF) is no stranger to the MAFAC Faculty and attendants. Many Faculty members agree that the last MAFAC cadaver dissection course, which was held at MERF, was one of the best MAFAC courses to date. This was not only because of the presence of Sam Hamra and Andrew Jacono, but also because the facilities and technical support at MERF were outstanding. Especially the enthusiasm and passion of the lab manager, Matthew Wissemann, was inspiring and an example of the philosophy of MERF.

When the University of Melbourne announced in March that they would not be able to support the ongoing research in their facilities, the future of the MAFAC research looked grim. Partially due to the ongoing COVID-restrictions, the University of Melbourne could not provide MAFAC with the necessary technical investigations such as histology, micro-CT, and sheet plastination nor the access to the required number of fresh cadavers. This was a major setback as only the preliminary dissections had been done. Desperation was nearby for the MAFAC research team as the state of the world did not provide a good climate for prosperity or hope that the project would find a new home. In addition to this, the visa of Dr. Lennert Minelli, Tagliacozzi’s research fellow, was about to expire and without a home for the project he would not be able to remain in Australia.

Nonetheless, with a firm belief in the research and the backing of a well-connected faculty, the team pitched the research project to Dr. Roland Steck (Operations Manager) and Prof. Cameron Brown (Director) of MERF in April 2021. Intrigued by the research concepts and the work done to date, the team at MERF agreed to take up the Tagliacozzi project. In the weeks that followed, extensive administrative work was conducted with the help of Linda Pendlebury, our visa lawyer, to make this happen before the visa of the Tagliacozzi research fellow expired. In May, after months of stress and hard work, MAFAC finally established the official collaboration with MERF!

MERF was officially opened in 2008 at The Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside. Along with the state-of-the-art cadaver laboratory used for our workshops, MERF supports a range of research and development activities from basic medical device design and testing to ultrafast lasers and surgical microrockets. Their support for soft-tissue mechanical testing offers additional benefits. With the help of Prof. Cameron Brown, MAFAC will be able to test the soft-tissue properties of the malar fat pad and the surrounding tissues. This could help in providing supporting evidence to explain midcheek procedures and early recurrence of nasolabial folds.

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