Professor Ashvin Thambyah

BSc, MSc, PhD, PGCertAcadPrac


Dr Ashvin Thambyah joined the University of Auckland as a lecturer in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering in 2007. Before joining the University, he was employed as a research engineer at the Faculty of Medicine in the National University of Singapore. There he worked closely with orthopaedic surgeons on various aspects of musculoskeletal research and contributed to many clinical projects involving bone and joint disease and pathology.

Ashvin is a recipient of the Albert Trillat Young Investigator Award, presented by the International Knee Society, for his research on knee joint cartilage. His current research is concerned with linking physiologically-relevant macro-level joint mechanics to the microstructural and micromechanical response of the cartilage/bone system. The aim is to provide new insights into the way by which the tissue microstructure and the external load bearing conditions, together, influence the overall mechanobiology of the joint. The downstream application of this research will be to improve our knowledge and understanding of the mechanical factors involved in the joint degenerative process.


Postgraduate Diploma in Academic Practice, The University of Auckland, Auckland 2010
PhD (Orthopaedic Biomechanics), 2005 National University of Singapore, Singapore
MSc (Engineering and Physical Science in Medicine), D.I.C. , 1994 Imperial College, London
BSc (Biomedical Engineering), 1992 Marquette University, Milwaukee (USA)


Research | Current

  • Mechanical factors of osteoarthritis.
  • Physiologically-relevant models of joint and tissue loading.
  • Mechanobiology of musculoskeletal tissues.

Research groups

  • Biological Materials Research
  • Mechanobiology Research Group

Teaching | Current

       Current Teaching

  • Enggen 204 - Communication and Collaboration - also Course Director
    (This is a Year 2 course for all of the Faculty undergraduate students)
  • CHEMMAT 751 - Research Project - Seminars

       Previous Teaching

  • CHEMMAT 213 - Transfer Processes I - also Course Director
  • CHEMMAT 232 - Process Design I - also Course Director
  • CHEMMAT 751 - Research Project - also Course Director
  • CHEMMAT 753 - Non-Metallic Materials - also Course Director



  • Teaching Award, Top 15 in Faculty, School of Engineering, University of Auckland (2015)
  • Teaching Award, Top 15 in Faculty, School of Engineering, University of Auckland (2013)
  • Faculty of Engineering Award: Early Career Teaching Excellence Award (2010)
  • Teaching Award, Top 15 in Faculty, School of Engineering, University of Auckland (2010)
  • Teaching Award, Top 15 in Faculty, School of Engineering, University of Auckland. (2009)
  • Awarded the Centre for Academic Development Faculty Fellowship in Academic Practice. (2008)
  • Teaching Award, Top 15 in Faculty, School of Engineering, The University of Auckland. (2007)


  • Grammer European Spine Journal Award 2018 – “A more realistic disc herniation model incorporating compression, flexion and facet-constrained shear: a mechanical and microstructural analysis. Part I: Low rate loading, Part II: High rate or ‘surprise’ loading“ (Eur Spine J (2017) 26: 2616-2628 and Eur Spine J (2017) 26: 2629-2641) Authors: Shan Z, Wade KR, Schollum ML, Robertson PA, Thambyah A, Broom ND. Prize: EUROS 20,000. 
  • Best spinal research paper submitted to the annual meeting of the Spine Society of Australia, at the Adelaide Convention Center 27th to 29th April 2018, for the work entitled: “New Evidence for Structural Integration across the Cartilage-Vertebral Endplate Junction and its Relation to Herniation”. Authors: Haiza N, Thambyah A, Robertson P, Broom N. AU$10,000
  • The effect of an annular puncture on the herniation pathway. An in vitro structural investigation. Van Heeswijk VM, Robertson PA, Thambyah A, Broom ND. Spine society of australia 28th annual scientific meeting, 7-9 april 2017, Hobart, Australia.Awarded the Rob Johnston award.
  • International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine (ISSLS) Prize in basic science for 2016
  • Spine Society of Australia - Research Prize (2014)
  • Outstanding Paper - Basic Science - Awarded by the North American Spine Society (2014)
  • Awarded a Marsden Grant (2011)
  • The University of Auckland Early Career Research Excellence Award. (2010)
  • Albert Trillat Young Investigator's Award, 2005. Presented by The International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine, in Florida, USA, April 2005
  • Awarded the Lottery Health Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship (2005)


Head of Department

Areas of expertise

Orthopaedic Biomechanics
Musculoskeletal Tissue Mechanics

Mechanical testing of soft and hard materials
Dynamic testing

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Professional affiliations

  • Member, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (since 1996)
  • Member, Orthopaedic Research Society, USA (since 2006)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Workman, J., McGlashan, S., & Thambyah, A. (2020). Macroscopically healthy articular cartilage with fibrillar-scale early tissue degeneration subject to impact loading results in greater extent of cell-death. Journal of the mechanical behavior of biomedical materials, 11210.1016/j.jmbbm.2020.104043
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sue McGlashan, Josh Workman
  • Iravani, A., Thambyah, A., & Burrowes, K. S. (2020). A viscoelastic two-dimensional network model of the lung extracellular matrix. Biomechanics and modeling in mechanobiology10.1007/s10237-020-01336-1
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Kelly Burrowes
  • Das Gupta, S., Finnilä MAJ, Karhula, S. S., Kauppinen, S., Joukainen, A., Kröger H, ... Saarakkala, S. (2020). Raman microspectroscopic analysis of the tissue-specific composition of the human osteochondral junction in osteoarthritis: A pilot study. Acta biomaterialia, 106, 145-155. 10.1016/j.actbio.2020.02.020
  • Saggese, T., Thambyah, A., Wade, K., & McGlashan, S. R. (2020). Differential Response of Bovine Mature Nucleus Pulposus and Notochordal Cells to Hydrostatic Pressure and Glucose Restriction. Cartilage, 11 (2), 221-233. 10.1177/1947603518775795
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sue McGlashan
  • Brown, E. T. T., Damen, A. H. A., & Thambyah, A. (2020). The mechanical significance of the zonally differentiated collagen network of articular cartilage in relation to tissue swelling. Clinical Biomechanics10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2019.12.008
  • Sapiee, N. H., Thambyah, A., Robertson, P. A., & Broom, N. D. (2019). Sagittal Alignment With Downward Slope of the Lower Lumbar Motion Segment Influences Its Modes of Failure in Direct Compression: A Mechanical and Microstructural Investigation. Spine, 44 (16), 1118-1128. 10.1097/brs.0000000000003018
  • Das Gupta, S., Finnila, M. A., Karhula, S. S., Korhonen, R., Thambyah, A., Rieppo, L., & Saarakkala, S. (2019). CHANGES IN MINERALIZATION IN CALCIFIED CARTILAGE AND SUBCHONDRAL BONE PLATE DURING OSTEOARTHRITIS PROGRESSION. Paper presented at OARSI World Congress on Osteoarthritis - Promoting Clinical and Basic Research in Osteoarthritis, Toronto, CANADA. 2 May - 5 May 2019. OSTEOARTHRITIS AND CARTILAGE. (pp. 2).
  • Sapiee, N. H., Thambyah, A., Robertson, P. A., & Broom, N. D. (2019). New evidence for structural integration across the cartilage-vertebral endplate junction and its relation to herniation. The spine journal : official journal of the North American Spine Society, 19 (3), 532-544. 10.1016/j.spinee.2018.08.013


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 10, Room 1037
New Zealand

Web links