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Engineer to spearhead research into cell metabolism and medical injuries
Date:5/9/2008

A University of Leicester engineer has won a share of grants totalling over 1m to target lung injury and cancer.

In an unusual move, Dr. Declan Bates, a senior lecturer in the Department of Engineering at the University of Leicester, is co-recipient of 1,068,000 in the form of just two research grants: one from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the other from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The grants are shared between academics at Leicester and Nottingham and Aberdeen.

The first will be used to examine how lung injury can be prevented in patients who are on ventilators; the second, to investigate a potential target for future cancer treatments.

These may seem worlds apart -especially for an engineer, but theyre united by a common factor feedback control theory which of course is a science in its own right, said Dr Bates.

He added: It might seem odd that a life-support machine can cause injury, but this is actually not uncommon. The majority of critically ill patients in Intensive Therapy Units (ITU) spend some time with their lungs ventilated using a mechanical ventilator or life-support machine. However, mechanical ventilation exposes patients lungs to potentially damaging positive pressures, and as a result, ventilator-associated lung injury (VALI) is a common and significant occurrence. Prolonged stays in the ITU may be generated, pneumonia may be precipitated and lifelong lung scarring may result. The scale of the problem is such that 2.9% of people receiving mechanical ventilation suffer VALI each year, which represents several thousand individuals in the UK each year.

Dr Bates will be looking at these problems in terms of feedback control in order to find ways to optimally adjust the ventilators to allow them to do their job better while minimising injury. This is highly complicated, and previous attempts have had to rely on
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Contact: Dr. Declan Bates
dgb3@le.ac.uk
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert

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