£10.5m for Medical Engineering Centre
29 Jun 2009
King’s has been awarded £10.5 million as part of a new funding round from The Wellcome Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for four new Centres of Excellence in Medical Engineering.
Four interdisciplinary research teams at King’s, University of Leeds and Oxford University will receive a combined total of £41 million over the next five years. The funding will help to develop integrated teams of clinicians, biomedical scientists and world-class engineers with the capacity to invent high-tech solutions to medical challenges, potentially improving thousands of patients’ lives.
Professor Reza Razavi who will head up the Centre at King’s said: ‘Our Medical Engineering Centre will break down the barriers between engineering, the physical sciences, and biology and medicine. We will conduct world-class clinical trials to show the benefit of new discoveries in imaging technology that the centre will produce. I see patients in my clinic every day, so I have a very clear understanding of what they need to make their lives better. Medical imaging has the capacity to give my patients access to new tools for earlier and more precise diagnoses of cancer and heart disease, better targeted therapies, less invasive surgery, and improved techniques for rebuilding tissue after surgery.’
Engineers have been at the forefront of medical innovation throughout the history of medicine, benefiting millions of people with tools such as implants and prosthetic limbs, devices to monitor the physiological state of patients, and instruments to maintain bodily functions, such as the implantable pacemaker. As both medicine and engineering continue to advance at great pace, it is crucial that the links between these disciplines are maintained, especially with the potential for groundbreaking advances in fields such as imaging and genetics.
Applications of Medical Engineering
In the UK, the population is ageing – people are living longer thanks to modern medicine. But as we get older, our bodies need more help to support us. Medical engineering will play an important role in meeting this growing demand. It’s estimated there are up to four million operations in the world each year as a result of osteoarthritis. Better techniques to diagnose osteoarthritis combined with more tailored interventions could mean a choice of earlier and less intrusive treatments for the most common cause of chronic pain;
In 2006 in the UK, there were 130,000 hip and knee replacement operations – but demand is growing all the time as more and more people live long enough to wear out their joints. A new generation of implants will reduce the need for further replacements, avoiding costly and painful surgery;
New imaging technologies have the potential to predict stroke and heart attack, improve early detection of cancer, help surgeons perform less invasive operations, and even play a role in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric illness, potentially helping millions of people each year. Tissue engineering technology has the potential to use patients’ own cells to correct degenerative disease, but the processes of applying these techniques needs to be practical and efficient if they are to achieve their potential.
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.’
Professor David Delpy, Chief Executive of EPSRC, said: 'The Medical Engineering funding scheme has resonated with existing research programmes across the UK, but it has also stimulated new research teams to consider medical applications of emerging technology. This proves the value of the joint initiative in fostering highly potent partnerships and the new inventions that will result, which could have massive benefit for patients.'
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2008) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has more than 21,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org.
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