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Associate Professor Clayton Adam

Faculty of Health,
Faculty - Health


Associate Professor Clayton Adam
Adjunct Professor
Faculty of Health,
Faculty - Health
IHBI Membership
Institute of Health Biomedical Innovation (IHBI),
IHBI Health Projects,
IHBI Psych and Counc - HDHS
Discipline *
Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering
+61 7 3069 7323
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Identifiers and profiles
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PhD (James Cook Uni. of North Qld), BE (hons) Mechanical Engineering (James Cook Uni. of North Qld)

Professional memberships
and associations
  • Member of the International Association for Computational Mechanics (IACM)
  • Member of the International Research Society for Spinal Deformities (IRSSD)
  • Member of the Spine Society of Australia (SSA)
  • Member of the International Society of Biomechanics (ISB)

biomechanics, bone mechanics, constitutive modelling, finite element method, orthopaedic surgery, osteoporosis, scoliosis, spinal deformity, spine surgery

* Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008


Broad area of research: Medical Engineering Main areas of researchWithin the broad field of Medical Engineering, Associate Professor Adam and his research team have defined three main research areas:

  • Spine biomechanics
  • Scoliosis progression and treatment
  • Bone microdamage mechanics.

Spine biomechanics Spine biomechanics is the study of motions and forces in the human spine, investigated in order to gain a better understanding of various spinal disorders and to develop optimal treatments. Associate Professor Adam’s team use both experimental testing and computer simulation to explore the deformations and stresses in spinal tissues during physiological loading, and to understand how various diseases affect the mechanics of spinal tissues. Scoliosis progression and treatmentScoliosis is a type of spinal deformity in which the spine develops a sideways S-shaped curve and an unnatural rotation of the ribcage (rib hump). Although not usually life threatening, scoliosis cases that progress can result in a disfiguring deformity of the spine and ribcage. Through the Paediatric Spine Research Group, Associate Professor Adam’s team are developing:

  • improved predictive methods for deciding which scoliosis cases are most likely to progress (and therefore require treatment)
  • advanced biomechanical models to simulate how a particular patient’s spine will respond to corrective surgery.

Bone microdamage mechanics Bone is a living material that constantly replaces old tissue with new in a process called remodeling. The main function of remodeling is to repair microscopic cracks formed in bone during physical activity. These cracks affect the strength and stiffness of bone, and certain types of cracks can trigger rapid bone loss; yet surprisingly little is known about how they form and grow during physical loading. This project will combine mechanical testing, high resolution imaging, and computer modeling to quantify the mechanics of microdamage in trabecular bone, the porous bone most susceptible to osteoporosis. The project will provide new understanding of the role of microcracks in osteoporosis and other skeletal disorders. Grants Over $2.2 million in research funding as a named chief investigator since 2000. Selected list of awarded grants Patient-specific biomechanical modelling for improved treatment of spinal deformity Chief investigators: Professor Mark Pearcy, Associate Professor Clayton Adam, Professor John Evans, Dr Geoff Askin Funding source: Australian Research Council Discovery Projects scheme (2006-08). Spinal deformities are debilitating and disfiguring conditions which strike the young and otherwise healthy, especially girls. In Australia there are over 50,000 adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis, a deformity for which neither cause nor cure has been discovered. Modern spinal implants apply targeted corrective forces; however, excessive force can overload spinal joints and vertebrae leading to tissue damage, implant breakage, and loss of correction after surgery. Predicting the limits of correction achievable in a particular patient requires biomechanical models of spinal tissues and implants. This project will develop new modelling techniques to optimise deformity correction and avoid implant-related complications. Improved assessment of progression risk in idiopathic scoliosis Chief investigators: Associate Professor Clayton Adam Funding source: Golden Casket Foundation The natural history of idiopathic scoliosis varies from patient to patient. Some patients develop a small curve which either remains stable or resolves during subsequent growth, while in other patients, subsequent growth causes rapid progression of the deformity requiring surgical treatment. Because of the relatively high prevalence of scoliosis in the population, assessment and observation of small curves can place significant demands on the resources of hospital spinal clinics. Due to the high number of ‘false positives’ (small curves that do not progress), school screening programs for scoliosis have been discontinued in many areas. The solution to this problem lies in improved assessment of progression risk for small curves. Knowing which curves are very likely to progress would allow resources to be allocated more effectively toward these patients. The aim of this project is to improve the prediction of progression risk in scoliosis by considering new (and biomechanically valid) measures of curve size and shape, and to develop and apply a new progression risk factor based on scoliosis patients at the Mater Spinal Clinic.


Awards and recognitions

  • 2014, Best poster award, Spine Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting
  • 2010, Dean’s Excellence Award for Higher Degree Research supervision, Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering, Queensland University of Technology
  • 2010, Best poster award, Spine Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting
  • 2009, Rob Johnston award, Spine Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting
  • 2006, Best poster award, Spine Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting
  • 2004, International travel bursary, Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • 2001, Spinal research award (best paper), Spine Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting
  • 2000, Technical essay prize, ABB Limited
  • 1993, IM Hunter thermodynamics prize, James Cook University
  • 1993, Tuition fee scholarship, James Cook University
  • 1991-3 Tertiary study scholarship, Comalco Minerals and Alumina

Career history

  • 2012-ongoing: Invited Professor, Laboratoire de Biomecanique, Arts et Metiers ParisTech, Paris, France
  • 2012-14: Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowship for experienced researchers (European Union 7th Framework Program).
  • 2011: Medical Device Domain leader, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • 2008-9: Medical Engineering Theme leader, Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • 2007 – present: Principal Research Fellow (Associate Professor), Paediatric Spine Research Group, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • 2002 – 2007: Senior Research Fellow, Paediatric Spine Research Group, School of Engineering Systems, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • 2000: Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • 1999 – 2002: Lecturer in Mechanics and Design, School of Mechanical, Manufacturing and Medical Engineering, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • 1998: PhD in Computational Mechanics, James Cook University, Australia
  • 1994 – 1999: Mechanical Engineer, Technology and Development Group, Tate & Lyle Bundaberg Ltd
  • 1994: BE(hons) in Mechanical Engineering, James Cook University, Australia
This information has been contributed by Associate Professor Clayton Adam.


Teaching Areas

  • Mechanics of Solids
  • Engineering Dynamics
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanical Engineering Science
  • Final-year Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Project
  • Final-year Medical Engineering Undergraduate Project.
This information has been contributed by Associate Professor Clayton Adam.


Associate Professor Adam and his research team collaborate with:

  • Medtronic Sofamor Danek
  • Johnson & Johnson (Depuy)
  • Queensland X-Ray
  • Mater Health Services Brisbane Ltd.
  • Queensland Orthopaedic Research Trust.
This information has been contributed by Associate Professor Clayton Adam.


For more publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.


Awards and recognition

Visiting Professorships/Fellowships
Reference year
2012-ongoing - Invited Professor at Laboratoire de Biomecanique, Arts et Metiers ParisTech, Paris, France
Reference year
Marie Curie Incoming Fellowship for experienced researchers. DiscSim: Multiscale modelling and characterisation of the intervertebral disc (Host Institution Arts et Metiers ParisTech, Paris, France).
Funding Award
Reference year
Awarded $270k Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure Equipment Facilities (LIEF) grant - An integrated system for characterisation of mechanical behaviour of bio and nanomaterials at micro and nano scales in Queensland (Yan C, Adam C, Huang H, Zou J, Peng Z, Bell J, Yarlagadda P, Clegg R, Truss R, Will G, Hou M, Yin L, Watson G, Mathan B, Duan K, Pang G)
International Collaboration
Reference year
European partners awarded 170k Euros - EU FP7 International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES). MuscleUp: Towards a detailed interface for musculoskeletal modeling University of Stuttgart, Germany, University of Leeds UK, Auckland Bioengineering Institute New Zealand, QUT, Australia. CJ Adam awarded recriprocal funding from Australian Academy of Science.
Advisor/Consultant for Industry
Reference year
Spine testing consultancy for Mesoblast Ltd
Committee Role/Editor or Chair of an Academic Conference
Reference year
Scientific subcommittee & organising committee member for Engineering and Physical Sciences in Medicine conference (EPSM 2006), held in Noosa 17-21 Sept 2006.
Editorial Role for an Academic Journal
Reference year
Invited editor for special edition of Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers - Part H, Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Editorial Role for an Academic Journal
Reference year
Reviewer for the following journals: Spine, Journal of Porous Media, Bone, Medical Engineering and Physics, Journal of Engineering in Medicine, Clinical Biomechanics, Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine, Chiropractic & Osteopathy, Computational Mechanics, Connective Tissue Research.