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A Royal Reflection on Medical Advancements in Leeds

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As Worldwide Vice President Research & Development for DePuy Synthes Research & Development for Joint Reconstruction, Mitek Sports Medicine and Power Tools, I am continually looking to the future for meaningful innovations capable of addressing the unmet needs of patients and clinicians, and improving patient outcomes. So, it is not too often that I am able to reflect on how far we have come in the field of orthopedics.

100 years ago, King George V made a Royal Visit to the East Leeds Military War Hospital. On February 8 of this year, Her Royal Highness Princess Anne marked the centenary of her great-grandfather’s Royal Visit by visiting the Thackray Medical Museum, which is the former site of the East Leeds hospital. I had the rare opportunity to be a part of this visit and take a step back in orthopedic time.

Princess Anne toured the museum and visited an exhibit entitled ‘Recovery? Flanders to Afghanistan.’ This new exhibit highlights how advances in surgery and medical products have changed our lives for the better. Interestingly, it focuses on the many lives that might have been saved had these products been available at the time of King George V.

I was able to hear Joanne Bartholomew, Chief Executive of the Thackray Medical Museum, describe the museum’s shared history with DePuy Synthes.Having the opportunity to personally explain our product development process and share some our latest innovations highlights how far we have come in meeting patient needs – and the crucial role that DePuy Synthes and Leeds have played in the evolution of medical treatment.

One of our most recent innovations, the ATTUNE® Knee System, was on display and sparked the interest of Princess Anne. who was keen to understand why we had developed the system. ATTUNE is a great example of how our continued focus on innovation is driven by addressing unmet patient needs. The system was developed to improve functional performance of the knee during daily activities, such as descending stairs or rising to stand from a seated position. It also addresses the needs of surgeons by designing contemporary surgical instrumentation that enables accurate, reproducible, and efficient surgery.

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Princess Anne is introduced to employees from DePuy Synthes at Thackray Medical Museum. Photo by Simon Dewhurst.

Princess Anne summarized this eloquently by pointing out how different the situation would have been just over 100 years ago when King George V visited. She also commented that the Thackray Medical Museum, through its partnerships, continues to shine a spotlight on important medical advancements.

I was honored to attend the event and to hear first-hand Princess Anne’s interest, and to re-connect with familiar faces from the team at Thackray Medical Museum. The day reminded me of the importance of taking the time to reflect on achievements of the past. It also inspired me to continue to focus on future innovations to improve the quality of life for the many more patients we have yet to reach.

Mike Barker is Vice President of Research & Development for DePuy Synthes Joint Reconstruction, Mitek Sports Medicine and Power Tools, Johnson & Johnson. In this role he has responsibility for the Global R& D strategy and new product pipeline across these platforms. Mike is based in Leeds, UK and coordinates the activities of R&D Teams at various sites across the USA, UK and Switzerland. These teams partner with clinicians, hospitals, academic institutions and technology partners in development innovative solutions that meet the evolving and varying needs of patients, surgeons, hospitals, payers and policy makers around the world. Mike holds a Bachelor’s of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering, a Masters of Science in Computational Fluid Dynamics, and a PhD in Knee Biomechanics, all from the University of Leeds, and is professionally accredited as a Chartered Engineer and an Engineering Fellow with the UK Institute of Mechanical Engineers. Mike joined J&J in 1999 and since then has held various R&D leadership roles in Orthopaedics in both the USA and the UK. Prior to joining J&J Mike held R&D roles at Ford Motor Company, Schlumberger Oil Research, and Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics.

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