Former GCU PhD student shortlisted for prestigious award

A former Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) PhD student who played a key role in one of Europe’s largest ever investigations into the diagnosis and treatment of knee osteoarthritis has been shortlisted for a major alumni award.

Marco Mannisi is in line for the Entrepreneurial Award in the EU region at the British Council for the Study UK Alumni Awards 2020-21 in recognition of his amazing start-up company called Medere, which is directly linked to his PhD work.

He has put his success down to his positive experience at GCU and involvement in the University’s £3.8 million (€4.2m) EU-funded KNEEMO Initial Training Network (ITN) project, which developed new methods to diagnose, treat and prevent the disease affecting around 500,000 people in Scotland.

GCU Professor of Musculoskeletal Health Martijn Steultjens led the EU grant proposal and was network co-ordinator throughout the 2014-2018 project, and Professor Jim Woodburn, who has recently moved to Griffith University in Australia, was deputy co-ordinator.

The University is hugely proud of Marco and the project’s achievements. In 2016, KNEEMO was rated very highly and featured as a success story on the European Commission website here.

Pro Vice Chancellor Research Professor Cam Donaldson said: “This is an excellent example of research for the Common Good taking centre stage on an international platform. We are so proud of the work that Marco has undertaken with the prestigious KNEEMO team and for it to be recognised in this way.”

After completing his PhD in Health and Life Sciences in 2018, Marco returned to Rome where he launched Medere making foot orthotics with digital reconstruction, parametric modelling and 3D printing of prosthesis, exoskeleton and mechanical parts. He also runs professional courses on how to 3D print digital body parts.

Marco explained: “In my application for the British Council for the Study UK Alumni Awards, I told them that during my PhD I was exposed to a multicultural environment that motivated me, and supported my personal and professional growth.

“I also emphasised how important it was to travel to many different partner universities during my PhD and to collaborate with eminent researchers and industrial partners.”

He said that working on the KNEEMO project was one of the best experiences of his life and is delighted to have been shortlisted for the Award.

Professor Steultjens said: “It is fantastic to see Marco doing so well with his company Medere.

“I am proud that the KNEEMO success story is continuing in this way and wish Marco all the best in further building up Medere.

“When we designed the KNEEMO training programme, we wanted all of our Fellows to receive high-quality research training from the best biomechanics researchers in Europe but we also wanted to give them transferable skills that could be put to good use in a professional career outside of academic research.

“With his company Medere, Marco has built on the knowledge of biomechanics, bio-engineering and clinical science that he gained during his PhD, but he has also used his training in entrepreneurship and commercialisation to great effect.”

Find out more about the KNEEMO project by watching this GCU info video.

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