The Medical Engineering Research Facility (MERF) is the first facility to support the full cycle of research, validation, commercialisation and training activities necessary to ensure widespread adoption of new medical devices and techniques throughout Queensland, and around the world. MERF is designed to meet Australia's emerging needs in orthopaedic and artificial organ research, and provides a comprehensive suite of research and training facilities at the one location.

Read details

Queensland Smart State Facilities Fund
$5 million
Research leader
Organisational unit
Lead unit Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation Other units
Research areas


Phone: +61 7 3138 6938

Email: merf@qut.edu.au

Deputy Director: Dr Roland Steck



MERF research facilities include operating theatres, cell culture laboratories, materials testing laboratories and mechanical and electrical workshops. MERF has three main areas of research:

Anatomical and surgical skills laboratory (ASSL) 

In 2009, 28 workshops were conducted in the Anatomical and Surgical Skills Laboratory (ASSL) providing training for surgeons in the latest surgical techniques. This was an excellent achievement for the first full year of operation and consequently, our reputation for delivering first class facilities and support grows. The highlight, perhaps, was a course run via our video link by a surgeon in the USA directing the participants in MERF. Final approval was granted for the QUT Body Bequest Program late in 2009 following the granting of an Anatomical Accepting Licence. This will enable us to expand our capabilities by provide better material for the workshops. The QUT Body Bequest Program was launched in early 2010.

Biological research facility (BRF)

The Biological Research Facility (BRF) conducted over 270 procedures in 2009. This is a wonderful achievement considering less than 40 were performed in 2008. The staff of the BRF worked very hard to improve the state of the old facility and this resulted in approval for expanded use by the ethics committees of both QUT and the University of Queensland.

Research laboratories (RL)

The Research Laboratories have been used by researchers studying issues ranging from how temperature affects the strength of plaster casts for treating fractures to how hyperbaric treatment affects recovery from spinal cord injury.

Research being undertaken at MERF:

  • Design of replacement joints
  • Bone replacement and cartilage replacement systems
  • Biology of spinal injury and reduction of resulting disability
  • Promotion of bone healing
  • Optimising spinal surgical procedures
  • Augmentation for osteoporotic bone and crush fractures
  • Non-biological replacement organs (e.g. artificial heart)
  • Smoke inhalation and treatment to reduce morbidity
  • Effect of brain death on organs for transplantation

Some of the clinical conditions positively affected by the work are:

  • Joint (hip and knee) replacements due to arthritis, injury, osteoporosis and other causes
  • Fracture treatment for long-bones and fractured neck or femur (including as a result of trauma)
  • Cancer requiring bone tumour resection surgery
  • Spinal deformity, back pain (includes disc regeneration), and osteoporotic spines
  • Spinal cord trauma and cord injury
  • Congestive heart failure and impaired functioning of other organs
  • Organ transplantation


  • Prince Charles Hospital
  • Medtronic
  • Stryker
  • Karl Storz