Four interdisciplinary research teams – at Imperial College London, King’s College London, Leeds and Oxford universities – will receive a combined total of £41m over the next five years.
The funding will help teams of clinicians, biomedical scientists and engineers invent high-tech solutions that could potentially improve thousands of patients’ lives.
Researchers at Imperial College will receive almost £11m in funding to develop technologies to improve the lives of patients with osteoarthritis.
‘We will create the next generation of hip and knee replacement implants that will last longer and require less invasive surgery to fit. Tissue engineering will also contribute hugely in this area, using patients’ own cells to grow new cartilage for osteoarthritic knees. A better understanding of the disease will also lead to new technologies to diagnose and treat osteoarthritis at a much earlier stage,’ said Imperial’s Prof Ross Ethier.
At King’s College London, researchers will receive more than £10m to conduct clinical trials to show the benefit of imaging systems that will be produced at the medical engineering centre.
At Leeds University, researchers will recieve more than £11m to look at ways to help the skeleton, muscles and cardiovascular system support the body as it gets older, through improved prosthetic implants and technologies that can help tissues to regenerate.
‘We are also looking to understand the process of degeneration so we can accurately diagnose its early stages and deliver appropriate and timely interventions,’ said Prof John Fisher.
At Oxford University, more than £10m in grant money will be spent developing techniques and strategies to precisely measure an individual’s response to their condition and therapies, and use those measurements to adjust and improve the way the person is being treated.
‘This approach could have real impact on survival rates and improve the quality of life for people living with long-term conditions, from birth through to old age,’ said Oxford’s Prof Lionel Tarassenko.
Sir Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: ‘Research in medical engineering has been responsible for major advances in healthcare, ranging from ultrasound scanning in pregnancy to hip and knee replacements. The opportunities for engineers and medical scientists to collaborate are endless but all too often are missed because each community operates in its own siloed compartment. I am delighted by this collaboration between the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Wellcome Trust, which will fund four interdisciplinary teams to work on major medical unmet needs.’