Associate 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

  • 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)


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)

  • 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
  • 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
  • Goodwin, M., Thambyah, A., & Vanholsbeeck, F. (2019). Observing dynamic changes in articular cartilage birefringence during compression using polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography. Paper presented at Conference on Optical Coherence Imaging Techniques and Imaging in Scattering Media III, Munich, GERMANY. 25 June - 27 June 2019. OPTICAL COHERENCE IMAGING TECHNIQUES AND IMAGING IN SCATTERING MEDIA III. (pp. 3). 10.1117/12.2524766
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Frederique Vanholsbeeck
  • Jacob, B., Jüllig M, Middleditch, M., Payne, L., Broom, N., Sarojini, V., & Thambyah, A. (2018). Protein Levels and Microstructural Changes in Localized Regions of Early Cartilage Degeneration Compared with Adjacent Intact Cartilage. Cartilage10.1177/1947603518809401
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Viji Sarojini


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 10, Room 1037
New Zealand

Web links