WE’RE BUILDING THE
NEXT-GEN CONDOM


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THE PROJECT

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OUR MISSION


Universal access to reproductive and sexual health is one of the great challenges and human rights issues of the 21st century.

The lack of condom use, partially due to stigmas around a decrease in sensation, affects the health and well-being of many people in developing countries today. We received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to realise a Next Generation Condom made of new tough hydrogel materials, in order to improve feeling and increase regular use.

The challenge of moving from having to wear a condom to wanting to use one goes well beyond materials development. Our project has expanded to include engagement with key communities to identify barriers to condom acceptance and to collaboratively design novel solutions.

HYDROGEL CONDOMSFIND OUT MORE


A Researcher Testing Out Hydrogel Pen Failing To Pierce The Geldom
The GELDOM Research Team Leaders Dr. Robert Gorkin and Dr. Sina

We aim to create a better feeling condom material made from tough hydrogels.

Hydrogels are a class of materials often described as soft, squishy and wet. They consist mainly of water held together by molecular chains called polymers. Hydrogels also have properties close to tissue and can be designed to feel like skin.

Recently, new tough hydrogels have been developed that have mechanical properties similar to rubber - for instance stretching over 1000 times their initial size. They can also be engineered to be effective biological barriers. It’s these specially developed materials that are being used to create the hydrogel condom.

Our task is to identify the right formulations to build a condom that is strong and flexible, provides superior protection, and that offers the potential for improved feel and sensation.

ENGAGING COMMUNITIESFIND OUT MORE


A Community Providing Feedback To The Research Team

We want to understand the barriers and enablers that influence the use of condoms in Africa and Asia. Our plan is to involve people from those communities in developing ideas for improved condom usage.

There are many reasons – from cultural stigmas to personal attitudes – that influence the use of condoms. We are reviewing and conducting research to understand the reasons people do or do not use condoms in selective areas of Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia. In addition, we plan to engage locally with recent migrants in Australia to provide insight into the factors that influence condom use.

This information will be critical in informing a strategy to engage with the communities on this sensitive topic. We aim to work with them to identify effective ways in which condoms should be developed and furthermore marketed appropriately.

DESIGN DRIVEN INNOVATIONFIND OUT MORE


Boxes Of Condoms In The Current Market

We are using design innovation methods to translate the needs and desires of the communities into product solutions that can be realistically produced.

Design driven innovation is a collaborative process that brings together design strategy, human-centered research and social innovation principles.

We will tie the research in materials development and in community engagement, to the theories around aesthetics, function and form. This helps us move beyond purely engineering-driven product development to create insightful and useful products that can be manufactured effectively.

In reimagining the condom, we aim to create new hydrogel-based condom concepts that answer the specific challenges in our targeted communities, by providing a design that excites and motivates use.

MEET THE RESEARCH TEAM LEADERS


DR ROBERT GORKIN

DR ROBERT
GORKIN

Intelligent Polymer Research Institute - UOW

Robert is a Biomedical Engineer with experience in research and project management to advance micro and nano-technologies for industrial applications.

DR SINA NAFICY

DR SINA
NAFICY

Intelligent Polymer Research Institute - UOW

Sina is a Polymer Scientist with expertise in developing new hydrogels with enhanced physical and mechanical properties for applications in innovative medical devices.

DR JASON MCARTHUR

DR JASON
MCARTHUR

Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute - UOW

Jason is a Molecular Microbiologist with extensive research experience focusing on novel treatment strategies related to pathogenesis of human bacterial pathogens.

DR CHRISTOPHER MAGEE

DR CHRISTOPHER
MAGEE

Centre for Health Initiatives (CHI) - UOW

Chris is Health and Social Psychology researcher and Deputy Director of the CHI, with expertise in understanding health behaviors and working with diverse community groups.

DR GIANNI RENDA

DR GIANNI
RENDA

Centre for Design Innovation - Swinburne

Gianni is a Designer and Deputy Director of Swinburne’s BioReactor investigating how design can empower people in the field of health, disability, and ageing.

MS BRIDGETTE ENGELER NEWBURY

MS BRIDGETTE
ENGELER NEWBURY

Centre for Design Innovation - Swinburne

Bridgette is a Design and Foresight Educator with expertise in using strategic foresight and brand strategy to tackle challenges intersecting design and communities.

DR SIMON COOK

DR SIMON
COOK

Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute – UOW

Simon joined the team as a Microbiologist and leads prototyping and medical device quality control research for the project.


This project is also supported by Professor Geoff Spinks (Wollongong) and Professor Simon Moulton (Swinburne) who have collectively several decades of leading research in materials science and advanced medical bionics.

CONTRIBUTORS


Expertise in biomedical engineering, materials science, industrial design and population health is being combined from the University of Wollongong and Swinburne University of Technology to revolutionise the condom. The project is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Program, UOW Global Challenges Program, and Swinburne Centre for Design Innovation.


University of WollongongSwinburne University of TechnologyBill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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