Professor Melissa Louise Knothe Tate
Professor Knothe Tate joins UNSW after more than a decade at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. She is already planning to develop an engineering outreach program aimed at inspiring innovation in some of Australia’s Indigenous...
Professor Knothe Tate joins UNSW after more than a decade at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. She is already planning to develop an engineering outreach program aimed at inspiring innovation in some of Australia’s Indigenous communities.
“The idea is to encourage innovation by getting young people to observe things in their environment and explore ways that nature can 'engineer itself' to adapt and survive,” Professor Knothe Tate says.
“I feel a very strong calling to reach out to underrepresented groups and part of my goal here in Australia is to work and engage with Indigenous populations,” she says. “I think Indigenous communities have so much to offer the world, particularly when it comes to innovation.”
The engineering outreach program will be modelled on a similar initiative she established for a remote Inuit community in northern Canada in 2010, where she worked with and taught more than 400 school-aged children.
Professor Knothe Tate’s research ranges from fundamental cell biology to the development of “disruptive” regenerative technologies that can be translated into clinical applications with a clear benefit for patients.
One technology is an implantable device that mimics the natural regenerative capabilities of periosteum – a thin sleeve-like membrane covering the surface of bones, which contains stem cells and growth factors necessary for bone formation and repair. In trials with sheep, these sleeve-like devices were implanted and were shown to hasten the speed of bone repair.
“One of the things I found so captivating about this opportunity and the Paul Trainor Chair is that it’s largely based around the idea of translating your research,” says Professor Knothe Tate. “This is really the crux of biomedical engineering and an important part of my career.”
Professor Graham Davies, Dean of Engineering from 2008-2014, says: “Melissa was a top choice for the Paul Trainor Chair. She has a reputation for delivering research discoveries that can be successfully commercialised, and works as an advocate for women in engineering, Indigenous education, and primary maths education – all of which are priorities for our Faculty.”
The Paul Trainor Chair in Biomedical Engineering honours the late Australian entrepreneur who established the Nucleus Group of companies and who played a pivotal role in developing the Cochlear implant and other medical devices and technologies such as the pacemaker.
Professor Knothe Tate says she is fascinated by Paul Trainor’s legacy and is excited about the opportunity to develop relationships within Australia’s biomedical industry.
Melissa's expertise lies in the areas of multiscale, experimental and computational mechanobiology, regenerative medicine, as well as next generation implants and advanced materials.
Her research and development work has encompassed several thrust areas at interface of biology and mechanics, referred to as mechanobiology. Spanning from stem cell mechanobiology to technology development, her principal focus has been on multiscale computational and experimental approaches to uncover and harness biophysical signals that promote tissue generation and healing. Her MechBio team (mechbio.org) has used this knowledge to develop new treatment strategies as well as novel materials and implants.
As a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Society for Mechanical Engineers, and the Biomedical Engineering Society, she has received numerous international research and development (R&D) awards. Her R&D program has resulted in over 210 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters and proceedings, 150 invited presentations and more than $14.9M in research, development, training, conference and infrastructure funding. She serves on several editorial boards of journals ranging from IEEE Transactions in Biomedical Engineering to Frontiers in Computational Physiology and Medicine to Technology and Health Care and has guest edited special volumes for the Annals of Biomedical Engineering and Tissue Engineering. Her trainees have gone on to leading posts in industry, academia, medicine and government.