Daniel Timms is a talented biomedical engineer from Australia, who has designed a device to support or totally replace the heart. Called the BiVACOR, the machine is small, lightweight and deceptively simple. It uses a magnetic field, a spinning disc and centrifugal force to pump blood. Because there is only a single moving part and no friction, it is expected to be extremely durable.
The BiVACOR is being hailed as the 'holy grail' of artificial hearts by the world-leading Texas Heart Institute after five decades of research by teams around the world to invent a device that could be implanted in the body and sustain life. The Texas Heart Institute is now working to refine and test the device in order to have it ready for possible human clinical trials in a few years.
According to Daniel, the BiVACOR’s design advantages include the fact that it is small enough to implant in an eight-year old child, but powerful enough to support an adult. It’s also designed to function for more than ten years and allow recipients to live a relatively normal life.
Daniel’s work on the device is based on the premise that the body needs a continuous blood flow which could be done with a device which did not necessarily have to replicate the pumping action of the heart muscle. The BiVACOR is designed to replace only the lower chambers of the heart and would be sutured to the remaining upper two chambers of the existing heart.
Daniel gained a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) at QUT before embarking on a PhD in biomedical engineering at QUT. Starting research on an artificial heart more than 10 years ago, Daniel’s research has taken him on expertise exchanges to Japan to perfect the magnetic impeller at the 'heart' of his heart and to Germany to apply precision engineering techniques to manufacture the device.
His research has produced twenty peer-reviewed articles, and six patent applications to date. His work was honoured with the QUT Young Alumnus of the Year award at the annual Outstanding Alumni Awards at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this year.