Surgical Discovery Centre

The newly established Surgical Discovery Centre directed by Prof. Matthew Allen,  is a hub for developing new surgical techniques and spinning out ideas in partnership with Cambridge Enterprises. Our vision is to use research to drive the development of innovative solutions to contemporary problems in both small animal and human surgery. Key focus areas within the Surgical Discovery Centre include the development of better total joint replacement implants, limb sparing implants for patients with bone cancer, improved diagnostic techniques and treatment options for bone and joint infections.



Matthew Allen- Professor of small animal surgery.

Matthew graduated from the University of Cambridge with a veterinary degree (1991) and PhD in orthopaedics (1995). After post-doctoral training at Purdue University, He took up a research-intensive faculty appointment in Orthopedic Surgery at the Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, where he set up and ran a program on preclinical orthopaedic animal models. In 2008, He moved to the veterinary school at The Ohio State University. As director of the Surgical Research Laboratory, He performed preclinical and clinical trials in the areas of total joint replacement, orthopaedic oncology, spine surgery, regenerative medicine and osteoarthritis. In September 2014, Matthew was elected Professor of Small Animal Surgery at Cambridge. In this new position he combines clinical interests in total joint replacement (with a particular emphasis on primary and revision total knee replacement) with an expanded preclinical and clinical research effort through the newly established Surgical Discovery Centre. Matthew also participates in campus-wide research initiatives such as the Cambridge Centre for Musculoskeletal Repair, Regeneration and Replacement (r3) and the Cambridge Cancer Centre. 

Claudia Zindl - Research Assistant.

Claudia graduated in 2000 as a veterinarian from the Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover, Germany she went to do a Master’s thesis in Mexican Wolf Semen Cryopreservation at the St. Louis Zoo / St. Louis University, St Louis, MO. Thereafter she completed an additional project with Mexican zoos extracting reproductive hormones from Mexican wolf feaces to assess their reproductive cycles. Back in Germany Claudia worked as a veterinarian in a mixed practice focussed on pig health for four years, She then worked in a busy small animal referral clinic in Hannover, Germany for five years, followed by a one year surgical internship at Fitzpatrick Referrals, UK and a two year surgical research fellowship at The Ohio State University – Veterinary Medical Center,  Columbus, OH. During her fellowship she carried out biomechanical testing of novel orthopaedic spinal implants for dogs and worked on canine spinal implant retrieval histology.


Charlotte Palmer - PhD Veterinary Sciences (Oncology)

Charlotte graduated in 2014 with a first class honours degree in Biomedical Science from the University of Plymouth.  She went on to complete an internship at the University of Plymouth working on proteomic patterns in prostate cancer, and also gained further experience in molecular biology from projects at the Open University. She was awarded a scholarship from St Johns College Cambridge to complete her masters degree at Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. During this time, she invested the deregulation of specific chromatin remodelling complexes in colorectal cancer. Charlotte is currently working towards her PhD in the Surgical Discovery Centre where her work focuses on the molecular mechanisms that drive the growth and spread of pediatric musculoskeletal tumors in humans and canines.


Lisa Grassato - PhD Veterinary Medicine


Lisa graduated cum laude in 2013 from The University of Veterinary Medicine of Bologna, Italy, and was awarded the best study-curriculum of her year. She then completed one year postgraduate training in the surgical department of the University Small Animal Hospital there. Thereafter she worked in a Small Animal Hospital in Florence for two years, and came back to the Bologna University Hospital as an emergency surgeon for dogs and cats in 2016. In the same year Lisa successfully applied for a PhD studentship at the University of Bologna, working on a clinical project on emergency surgeries in dogs, and in particular, focused on Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus. As part of her PhD programme she will spend a three-month period at the Surgical Discovery Centre, under the supervision of Prof. Matthew Allen; her project focuses on a pilot study using a 3D surface scanner to get measurements for dogs legs, with the aim of developing new supportive braces.


Luke Johnson - Engineering Student


Luke Johnson is a fourth year student at the Engineering Department of the University of Cambridge.

His involvement with the Surgical Discovery Centre started with an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme placement in the summer of 2016, and after specialising in Bioengineering in his third year he has returned to the Surgical Discovery Centre for his final year project, under the joint supervision of Professor Matthew Allen and Dr Michael Sutcliffe of the Engineering Department.


Luisa Garcia - PhD Veterinary Sciences (Oncology)


Luisa graduated from the Universidade Federal de Uberlandia, Brazil, in 2009, and went to work at an Equine Clinic in Texas in 2010. In 2011 she worked at Sexing Technologies Inc., who specialse in producing sexed sorted semen. After that she completed a Master's Degree over 2 years at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The project was related to two the major proteins found in stallion seminal plasma, called HSP-1/2, which are associated with fertility. She then applied to Cambridge University to do a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Matthew J. Allen. At the same time, seeking the chance to earn scholarship from the Brazilian government, through an agency called CNPq. She was successful in both and so now is studying for a PhD at the new Surgical Discovery Centre, with a project to evaluate the effects of a clinically relevant fractioned radiation therapy regimen on rabbit bone microstructure, mechanics and fracture healing.


Sara Ahmed Hassouna Elsayed PhD Veterinary Medicine

Sara Ahmed Hassouna Elsayed Headshot.jpg

Sara graduated in 2012 from The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Alexandria University, Egypt, among the top 5 of her class. She then worked as an Assistant lecturer/researcher in the Department of Surgery there from April 2013, where her duties included as a Surgeon in the Veterinary School Surgery Clinic.She was awarded her MSC degree in Veterinary Medical Science from the same University working on Augmentation Cystoplasty in dogs in November 2015, and then she successfully applied for a PhD studentship at University of Cambridge.

Sara’s study is sponsored via Newton-Mosharafa Scholarship a mutual fund between the British Council & the Egyptian Ministry of Higher education as well as the Cambridge Trust. She is working toward her PhD in the Surgical Discovery Centre, Department of Veterinary Medicine, under supervision of Prof. Matthew Allen in a project aiming to produce Novel Strategies to Control Musculoskeletal Infections after orthopaedic Surgery, and testing the hypothesis on an in vitro as well as an in vivo animal model.


Jose Franco - Research Assistant.


Jose Franco graduated in 2014 with a degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Leon, Spain. He has worked extensively in molecular biology, with his final degree project on immunology and cloning, that lead to an internship in the El Bierzo Hospital Laboratory (Ponferrada) on testing and diagnoses of bacterial diseases. He was awarded a scholarship from the Ministry of Education in Spain to complete his Masters Degree looking specifically at the development of antibodies to block the binding of proteins which are involved in inflammatory processes.

Since joining the Surgical Discovery Centre Jose is investigating the genetics of osteosarcoma, in particular the effects of blocking specific genes on the development of specialised proteins, and their role in the growth of osteosarcoma within cells.