Muireann Mc Mahon

Medical Art MSc

Nature Inspires Medical Design & Technology


‘Biomimicry is innovation inspired by nature’ Janine Benyus.

Biomimicry is the application of an existing design in nature to human technologies and engineering. Examples include the invention of aircraft inspired by bird flight or the use of the golden ratio in architecture based on spirals seen in nature (in shells & flowers).
This project explores the possibilities of biomimicry-based design in medicine and healthcare. The final resource showcases examples of some of these up-and-coming, nature-inspired designs through illustration and animation. It is hoped that this can be an engaging tool for anyone interested in biomimicry, design, and learning, encouraging people to look to nature for design solutions.

Electric Fish & Vascular Navigation Technology

An illustration of a blue elephant nose fish above another illustration of a catheter.

The elephant nose fish is an example of a type of weakly electric fish. It navigates its surroundings by producing an electric field, allowing it to detect objects. This mechanism has been applied to some vascular catheters to aid in navigation during certain diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Biomimicry in Medicine

An animation showing how the weakly electric fish has inspired vascular navigation technology.

Parasitic Wasps & Tissue Transportation Devices

An illustration of a parasitic wasp on the left and beside and below it an illustration of a prototype. The prototype is a tube shape and has an outer grey-white covering. The inner part is made up six purple-coloured blades.

The stinger of female parasitic wasps is made up three sliding valves. The movement of these valves allows for sophisticated transport of the eggs into a range of substrates. The mechanics of the stinger have inspired prototype needle designs and tissue transportation systems that may have applications in minimally invasive surgery.