Duncan Shepherd

Duncan Shepherd


Duncan Shepherd gained a BEng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Leeds in 1993.  He went on to undertake research in Bio-engineering in the Research School of Medicine, University of Leeds.  In 1997 was awarded a PhD for research on the mechanical properties of articular cartilage. 

From 1997 until 2004 he worked in Department of Bio-Medical Physics & Bio-Engineering at the University of Aberdeen.  He started work as a Research Fellow and in 2000 he was awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Trust Special Research Fellowship to undertake research on the design of a novel wrist implant.  In 2002 he became a Lecturer in Bio-engineering. 

Duncan moved to the University of Birmingham in 2004 as a Lecturer to help establish a new research area in Bio-medical Engineering, located within the School of Mechanical Engineering. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2006, Reader in 2011 and Professor in 2014.  He became Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in January 2016.

Research interests


Bio-medical Engineering, Design and Testing of Medical Devices, Measurement of Mechanical Properties of natural tissues. 


Spinal implant testing

With funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Duncan has developed a spinal implant testing facility at the University of Birmingham.  A spine simulator is being used to investigate:

  • Tribology of disc arthroplasty
  • Mechanical properties of elastomeric disc arthroplasty
  • Mechanical properties of nucleus replacement implants

Design of medical devices

Duncan has experience in designing a range of medical devices including small joint arthroplasty, sternal fixation devices and surgical instruments.  He uses solid modelling and finite element analysis to optimise designs, and has experience of working within the regulatory framework for the design of medical devices.  He also has a range of experience of using materials testing machines to test medical devices to International Standards.

Mechanical Properties of natural tissues

Duncan has experience of measuring a range of mechanical properties of natural tissues.  This research has included measurements of the viscoelastic properties of articular cartilage and the intervertebral disc, using Dynamic Mechanical Analysis.

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

Duncan Shepherd’s main research interests are in the design and testing of implantable medical devices. He has received major grants from Arthritis Research UK, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the medical device industry. He has supervsied doctoral research on the following topics:

Design of spinal implants
Design of finger joint replacement implants
Design and testing of total disc arthroplasty
Development of spinal devices
Design of surgical instrumentation for minimally invasive surgery

Dr Shepherd is interested to hear from prospective doctoral research students wishing to undertake research in the design and testing of medical devices (e.g. spinal implants, small joint replacement, trauma devices) and the mechanical properties of natural tissues (eg, articular cartilage).