After a ten-hour flight and a three-hour train ride, I finally arrived at my BRAVO! destina-tion in Exeter, England. Needless to say, I was exhausted, but since it was a weekend, I was able to settle down, catch up on my rest, recover somewhat from jet lag, and have a tour of the city before I began my research.
The city itself is a novelty. Exeter is located in the southwestern English county of Devon. It is a lovely mixture of historic construc-tions and contemporary architecture, ranging from the Roman wall surrounding the original boundaries of the city to the modern buildings seen on the university campus. The atmosphere is relaxed, and one can easily find a spot to enjoy the famous Devon cream teas anywhere throughout the city. The magnificent cathedral found in the city center was built between the 12th and 14th century, and the underground passages that served as tunnels for mending broken water pipes are the only underground passages in Britain open to the public for tour.
The areas surrounding Exeter are also extraordinary. Not only were the beaches numerous and scenic, but the countryside was beautiful as well. One of my most memorable experiences was renting a bicycle and riding down the path along the river Exeter beyond the city and into the countryside. On one side, I passed by sheep, deer and quaint houses with thatched roofs. While on the other, I watched the river open up to the sea. It was a truly magnificent sight I could only have seen in England.
At the University of Exeter, I worked with Dr. Clive Lee in the bioengineering department, researching the stress relaxation
of the bone cement used in total hip replace-ments. Stress relaxation is the change in stress level with time at constant strain. Its role in orthopedic research is important because bone cement is used to secure certain types of hip implants to bone and only a limited amount is known about its long-term properties. By understanding some of its behaviors like stress relaxation, information can be found to develop a more effective type of bone cement, which in turn could reduce the number of revision surgeries needed for hip replacements.
During my stay, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend an Exeter Hip Symposium (a conference typically for orthopedic surgeons interested in using the Exeter Hip system). At the symposium, I learned about the history and development of the Exeter Hip, of which Dr. Lee is a co-inventor, and was able to observe primary and revision hip surgeries.
My BRAVO! research experience at the University of Exeter was certainly worthwhile. Conducting research in a different laboratory environment while living in another culture is an excellent opportunity I would recommend to all. My greatest appreciation goes to those who made it possible, especially Dr. John Szivek, my UBRP faculty sponsor; Dr. James Benjamin, formerly from the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at UMC; Dr. Clive Lee, at the University of Exeter, and of course, Genevieve Kenney and Carol Bender.
Mariana Wong, UBRPer in Dr. Szivek's lab, Surgery/Orthopedic Research