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Addressing clinical challenges with Surgical and Interventional Engineering

The Surgical & Interventional Engineering Doctoral Training Program within the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences is equipping PhD students with the skills, opportunities and resources to make a lasting change on surgery and healthcare, globally.

Surgeons in theatre

The Surgical & Interventional Engineering Doctoral Training Program within the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences is equipping PhD students with the skills, opportunities and resources to make a lasting change on surgery and healthcare, globally.

Dr Christos Bergeles, the program’s Deputy Director, shares his insights on why interested candidates should pursue the program.

Developing new technology for surgery of the future

“A day in the Surgical and Interventional Engineering lab involves many aspects of thinking about how to carry out future research,” senior lecturer at the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences and Deputy Director of the Surgical and Interventional Engineering PhD Doctoral Training Program, Dr Christos Bergeles said. 

“It’s about exploring ways to help us understand how to perform surgery better and how to deliver new therapies in order to make currently impossible interventions possible.”

Dr Bergeles said research in surgical and interventional engineering is by definition highly collaborative as it requires different teams working together.

He said that input from surgeons and clinical collaborators is imperative in order to understand what problems the research teams need to solve.

It then requires computer scientists to come up with algorithms that can solve these problems. Additionally, hardware development engineers are needed to understand how to build devices and how to make them work.

“System integration engineers then try to put the algorithms and devices together to execute a plan.” 

Dr Bergeles explained that a major benefit for those seeking to undertake research within Surgical and Interventional Engineering is the pre-existence of this multidisciplinary environment within the School facilitated by the collocation at St Thomas’ Hospital and close collaboration with professionals in related fields.

“We work with orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, cardiac surgeons, foetal surgeons and many more who all have their own set of challenges that then work with our teams of researchers to develop solutions tailored to the specific surgical requirements and clinical domains.”  

Providing invaluable opportunities with our industrial partners

Another important characteristic of the Surgical and Interventional Engineering program is the strong partnerships with key industrial partners which facilitate connections and expose students to the day to day challenges of the medical technologies sector.

“For example, we are working together with Siemens in order to come up with innovative algorithms for MRI acquisition and MRI image reconstruction,” Dr Bergeles said. 

“We’re also collaborating with companies abroad in order to come up with better image acquisition and we’re looking to establish collaborations with many more companies in the realm of image acquisition and analysis, but also surgical instrument development and active implant engineering.” 

“It’s fortuitous because these organisations have the known-how to take research and  innovation to the clinic, while giving our researchers the opportunity to build their skills with real-world learning.” 

Further student benefits

Being part of the Surgical & Interventional Engineering Doctoral Training Program enable students’ access to the School’s numerous research groups and centres.

To build interrelated skills, students also have access to events such as the Surgical and Interventional Engineering Summer School which includes a series of lectures on the topics of novel instrumentation for optimal surgery, and navigation algorithms for precise interventions.

Students also have many opportunities to communicate their research more broadly through public engagement activities and major events such as the UK’s biggest science festival New Scientist Live which in 2019 attracted more than 10,000 visitors exploring and engaging with the School’s research.

If you’re interested in exploring the opportunities offered within the Surgical and Interventional Engineering PhD program, learn more and apply today.