Karin Hing

Dr Karin Hing is a [part time] senior lecturer in Biomaterials within the School of Engineering and Materials at Queen Mary University of London. Her research is focused around the discovery and innovation of pioneering biomaterials and healthcare therapies through development of novel materials and processing technologies and investigation of the phenomena behind biocompatibility, and the stimulation of tissue regeneration.

She is particularly interested in understanding the mechanisms behind enhanced bone healing or regeneration in the presence of porous synthetic scaffolds, known as synthetic bone graft substitutes, via manipulation of both synthetic graft chemistry and biomimetic, hierarchical, multi-scale pore structures.

This interest stems from her pioneering investigations as an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow at the IRC in Biomedical Materials, during which she invented a novel processing route for the manufacture of porous ceramics with multi-scale porous structures, that reflected the complex structure of natural trabecular bone, in order to develop synthetic bone graft substitute materials with pore structures optimised to support rapid, reliable bone tissue regeneration.  

The success of this research resulted in the spin-out of ApaTech Ltd. a QMUL spin-out company that she co-founded with colleagues from the IRC in 2001. This venture presented Karin with the opportunity to gain extensive experience in translating research from the bench to the bed side through her involvement in the specification and commercialisation of a progressive series of synthetic bone graft substitute materials with tuneable hierarchical structures (ApaPore, 2001) and optimised chemistries (Actifuse, 2005).

Apatech was acquired by Baxter International in 2010 for $330m in recognition of its position as a global leader in the provision of superior bone graft substitute technologies. The Actifuse family of silicated-calcium phosphate bone graft substitute materials, are now used globally in over 30 countries, including the USA, Germany and Australia, in a range of clinical applications including trauma, joint revision and spine surgery. In 2012 Actifuse  products accounted for 10% of the global synthetic bone graft substitute market, estimated to be worth $510 million and treating 125,000 patients annually. To date, it is estimated that 500,000 patients have now been treated with ApaTech products. Her continued involvement in SBG optimisation led to the launch, by Baxter International, of Inductigraft™ in 2013, the first commercially available SBG with proven osteoinductivity.

She is also actively involved in public engagement having appeared in a feature on her research in an episode of ‘Bang Goes the Theory’ (Broadcast, BBC1 7:30PM Mon, 4 Mar 2013 and BBC2, 7:00PM Tue, 5 Mar 2013), and was the first (and to date only) woman to be awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Silver Medal (2011) and has since been awarded the Kroll Medal by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, and the Biocompatibles Prize by the UK Society for Biomaterials, both in 2013.