Division of Orthopaedic Research


Thomas Oxland

The UBC Orthopaedic Research Division conducts internationally-acclaimed research that includes basic science, applied research on human subjects, and community initiatives on topics relevant to orthopaedic practice.

These topics include human mobility with aging and after injury and biomechanical strategies to understand and treat problems of the spine and joints. A wide array of Associate Faculty members provide rich opportunities for collaboration with orthopaedic faculty and trainees.

Research Areas

  • Health and mobility in the aging population
  • Biomechanics of the injured and degenerative spine
  • Mobility of people using assistive devices
  • Mechanical causes and solutions for osteoarthritis

Research Centres

ICORD, the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries, is located in the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre at the VGH campus and is a broad-based research centre focussed on spinal cord injury. ICORD aims to develop more effective strategies to promote prevention, functional recovery, and improved quality of life after spinal cord injury.

CHHM, the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, is located in the Robert Ho Building at the VGH campus and is a broad-based research centre focused on bone and joint degeneration, and overall human mobility. The CHHM creates, shares and implements solutions that promote active aging, and improve bone and joint health, to enhance mobility across the lifespan.

Core Faculty Members

Thomas Oxland

Dr. Thomas Oxland is the Head of the Research Division in the UBC Department of Orthopaedics. His group is interested in the biomechanics of musculoskeletal problems, with a particular focus in two areas currently: i) studying the mechanisms of spinal cord injury and developing more information about how different types of injuries can lead to different types of spinal cord damage; and ii) exploring the challenges in the surgical treatment of adult spinal deformity with a focus on biomechanical modelling and on changes to the paraspinal musculature.

Learn more: ICORD | UBC Department of Mechanical Engineering

Heather McKay

Dr. McKay’s group is is focused on three main research areas: (i) investigating lifestyle factors that influence the health, mobility and social connectedness of children, youth and older adults; (ii) implementation and scale-up science; focus on effective community-based health promoting interventions, and (iii) knowledge translation.

Learn more: Hip Health | VCHRI

Bonnie Sawatzky

Dr. Bonnie Sawatzky’s group has four research areas of focus: i) Wheelchair and gait mobility (biomechanics and energetics) in individuals with spinal cord injury across the lifespan; ii) Efficiency of wheelchair components and design; iii) Pain and disability in individuals with spinal cord injury; and iv) Long term outcomes of adults with Arthrogryposis (international registry).

Learn more: ICORD


David Wilson

Dr. David Wilson’s research group develops new methods for measuring joint mechanics and applies these methods to a) identify specific mechanical causes of osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions and b) quantify the effects of clinical treatments on mechanics.

Learn more: https://www.wilsonbiomechanicslab.com/



Division Members

Last NameFirst NameFaculty RankPrimary DivisionRegionWork LocationBusiness Email
GilesJoshua WilliamAffiliate Assistant ProfessorResearchVancouver IslandUniversity of Victoriajwgiles@uvic.ca
McEwenJames AllenAdjunct ProfessorResearchVancouverDiamond Health Care Centre
McKayHeatherProfessorResearchVancouverRobert H.N. Ho Research Centreheather.mckay@ubc.ca
OxlandThomasProfessorResearchVancouverBlusson Spinal Cord Centretoxland@icord.org
SawatzkyBonitaAssociate Professor ResearchVancouverBlusson Spinal Cord Centrebonita.sawatzky@ubc.ca
ShadganBabakAssistant ProfessorResearchVancouverBlusson Spinal Cord Centrebabak.shadgan@ubc.ca
ShahriariDenaAssistant ProfessorResearchVancouverBlusson Spinal Cord Centredena.shahriari@ubc.ca
ThorntonGailAdjunct ProfessorResearchVancouverDiamond Health Care Centre
WilsonDavid RobertProfessorResearchVancouverRobert H.N. Ho Research Centredavid.wilson@ubc.ca