21.06.19 – 06.10.19






Graham has been perfectly designed to withstand the impact force of a low speed crash (30km/h), his enlarged skull is filled with extra cerebrospinal fluid and ligaments to protect the brain, while the neck, one of the most vulnerable body parts in a collision, has been removed entirely. Sacks have been placed between each of his ribs to create airbag-like cushioning and extra joints in his legs allow him to jump out of the way quickly or bend around a car bonnet. Created in collaboration with Royal Melbourne Hospital Trauma Surgeon Christian Kenfield, and Monash University Accident Research Centre Road Safety Engineer, Dr David Logan, Graham is a sober reminder of just how vulnerable our bodies really are.

Graham was commissioned by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) to promote road safety. More details here


Patricia Piccinini is a Sierra Leone-born Australian artist and alumni from the Victorian College of the Arts. Her artworks include hyper realistic sculptures constructed from silicone, fiberglass and human hair that often explore the moral and ethical challenges set by advances in biotechnology and genetic manipulation. Patricia’s artwork has been included in major international exhibitions including CCBB Rio De Janiero, Dark Mofo, Hobart and Leeahn Gallery, Seoul. Her artwork ‘We are Family’, was included in the Australian Pavilion of the 50th Venice Biennale and ‘Skywhale’ was commissioned for the centenary of Canberra.


Deeper Dive

Ciaran Simms

Associate Professor, Mechanical & Manufactured Engineering, Trinity College Dublin

Understanding how we receive traumatic injuries is a prerequisite to designing safe environments. Unfortunately, the complexity of the human body and the environments in which we operate make this a difficult task, requiring a multidisciplinary team involving designers, scientists, engineers, healthcare professionals, legislators and industry. These work together in pursuit of the science of Injury Biomechanics.

Injury Biomechanics has allowed us to move equipment design from purely empirical approaches to an evidence-based discipline for injury prevention. However an ongoing challenge lies in the diversity of human body shapes and frailty levels combined with the range of impact configurations we face (eg automotive, sporting, military). The representation of this human range in physical crash test dummies is difficult, and increasingly computational models of the body are used instead.

Looking to the future, we are on the cusp of radical changes in what it means to be human. As eloquently argued by writers such as Yuval Harari and Mark O’Connell, advances in biomedical engineering will deliver radical changes at the human machine interface in the coming years.

What does this mean for injury prevention? We might envisage a personalised musculoskeletal passport which encodes our body shape and frailty and which communicates with protective equipment to provide person and context specific protection. We will certainly continue to evolve our view of the human body as a machine, the design of which we can meaningfully contribute towards.

Ciaran Simms is a Principal Investigator in the Centre for Bioengineering at Trinity College Dublin and also a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin. He was President of the International Research Council on Biomechanics of Injury until 2018 and remains on the Council and was the Soft Tissue Editor for the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials from 2007-2018 and remains on the Editorial Board.