The Wellcome Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have launched a joint £45m initiative to boost UK medical engineering innovation.
The Medical Engineering initiative will fund the creation of multidisciplinary centres of excellence across the UK. This will bring together experts in the fields of the physical sciences and engineering with those in clinical and life sciences to develop innovative healthcare solutions.
It will also provide funding to enable academic institutions to engage in applied research for healthcare and integrate expertise in the public and private sectors so innovations founded through academic research can be readily regulated and marketed.
The Wellcome Trust and the EPSRC funded a number new medical devices over the last year, including the i-Snake for use in keyhole surgery, funded by the Wellcome Trust, and biological cements to repair ‘burst fractures’ of the spine, funded by EPSRC. Now, with £30m from the Wellcome Trust and £15m from EPSRC, the two organisations hope to stimulate further discovery and boost the development of such innovations.
Prof David Delpy, chief executive of EPSRC, said: ‘The UK has significant strengths in the areas of engineering, physical, clinical and life sciences. This partnership with the Wellcome Trust opens up exciting new possibilities in exploratory research in healthcare that will cross these disciplines. It offers tremendous potential for significant advances to address currently unmet clinical needs.’
Dr Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust. added: ‘Major advances in medical diagnosis and treatment, such as CT scanning, magnetic resonance scanning and fibre-optic surgical techniques have come from interdisciplinary collaborations between engineering, physical and medical sciences. This scheme will provide major new funding for interdisciplinary collaborations to develop new technologies that will advance healthcare in the future.’