Kerstin van Gaalen (ESR 4)

Nationality: German


My name is Kerstin van Gaalen, I grew up in Moers, a city located in the western part of Germany. I started my bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at the FH Aachen – University of Applied Science in 2011. I finished my master’s degree at the RWTH Aachen in mechanical engineering with the focus in medical engineering and simulation. Afterwards I worked two years as calculation engineer in the field of occupant safety in the automotive industry. I analysed safety systems of vehicles by means of a finite element human body model. Since medical technologies reflect my personal interest more, I wished to work in a more application- and research-oriented field. My academic host is the National University of Ireland Galway and my industry partner is Meotec GmbH in Germany. I am super happy that I am part of the BioimplantITN project, and I am looking forward to the upcoming challenges. By completing this project, I hope I will have gained lots of experience in modelling and experimental characterisation of the degradation process of Magnesium and it will have given me a kickstart in my career.

My Research

Magnesium (Mg) and its alloys have been widely discussed for the application as implant material. They provide a good biocompatibility, almost no stress shielding, and they are biodegradable. So, a second surgery, which is necessary using conventional screws, is redundant using magnesium-based implants. Unfortunately, they have a high corrosion rate in the body, due to the aggressive environment and the acting mechanical stress. This can lead to bio-incompatibility in the area of the implant. In order to decrease the high corrosion rate, different modifications of Mg based implants (e.g. different alloying elements, polymeric coating) were discussed in the literature. A promising approach, decreasing the corrosion rate of a Mg based biodegradable material was developed by Meotec GmbH through specialized alloy systems combined with an innovative process of coating. Within the scope of this project the material must be further examined regarding the above described disadvantage. The overarching aim is to predict degradation and long-term mechanical performance of implanted bioabsorbable devices using a predictive modelling framework. Therefore, a finite element degradation model will be calibrated to the used material by means of experimental tests.

Host institution