Clara Hynes (ESR 2)
I studied my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering in University College Dublin and graduated in 2017 before continuing on to do my Masters in Biomedical Engineering. Through my Masters programme I completed an eight-month placement with Boston Scientific in Galway, Ireland where I worked on an EU funded H2020 research project called DRIVE which was focused on investigating methods and technologies to improve the survival and engraftment rate of transplanted islet cells for the reversal of diabetes mellitus. It was through my work with Boston Scientific that I became aware of the BioImplant ITN and was encouraged to apply. For me, the BioImplant project offered an exciting opportunity to engage with current European research in the development of the next generation of vascular stent technologies, which is an area of real interest for me. In addition, it presented a unique opportunity to address some of the key challenges associated with the devices, from both clinical outcomes and material optimisation perspectives.
My research is focussed on the development of coatings and surface treatments to control the degradation rates of magnesium alloys for cardiovascular stent applications. Permanent stents aimed at restoring vessel patency have revolutionised interventional cardiology however, their permanent structure hinders vessel remodelling and there is a risk of late stage thrombosis. To tackle these complications, bioabsorbable materials have been introduced as an alternative approach. Biodegradable magnesium alloys have been less extensively researched compared to their polymer counterparts however they offer superior tensile properties and are more radiolucent. The challenge with such alloys is their rapid degradation leading to an early loss of mechanical strength.
The aim of my research is to investigate coating technologies which have the potential to control the degradation rate of magnesium alloys for cardiovascular stent applications. My research will focus on screening a number of coating materials for their suitability as coating materials. Their performance will be evaluated in terms of the ability to control degradation rates of magnesium alloys, in addition to their mechanical integrity and their ability to protect the metal substrate following significant deformation such as crimping and deployment.