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Phones, probes and sensors to transform healthcare

Innovative projects including: smart-phone test and tracking systems for infectious diseases; fibre optic probes that can monitor people's condition in intensive care; and in-home sensors that can relay patient information to doctors immediately, have benefitted from a 32 million investment.

The funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will establish three new Healthcare Interdisciplinary Research Collaborations (IRCs).

Welcoming the centres, David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said: "New British technologies are transforming healthcare and saving lives, for example, in future, our smart phones will tell us when we are ill, controlling the spread of infectious diseases. As healthcare challenges become more complex, our world-class scientists are finding the next generation solutions."

The technologies being developed by the IRCs are:

Early-warning sensing systems for infectious diseases - next generation smartphone test and tracking systems for serious infections including new strains of influenza, MRSA and HIV - led by UCL (University College London) with Newcastle University, Imperial College London, and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Multiplexed 'Touch and Tell' Optical Molecular Sensing and Imaging - a fibre-optic device to detect potentially fatal lung conditions in intensive care patients, and to continuously monitor the blood in critically ill adults and babies without the need for blood sampling. Led by the University of Edinburgh with Heriot-Watt University and the University of Bath.

SPHERE: Sensor Platform for HEalthcare in a Residential Environment - a 24/7 digital home health assistant. Sensor technology to monitor patient's health in their own homes targeting obesity, depression, falls, stroke, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases. Led by the University of Bristol with the University of Southampton and University of Reading.

This investment in the three new IRCs will focus UK research excellence and build critical mass in this area, and will be spread across ten universities and involve 18 industry and academic partners. The IRCs will focus on research that can create or use new ICT applications and technologies to determine and/or sense physical and environmental factors, and integrate, analyse and interpret this data to inform decisions.

Dave Delpy, CEO of EPSRC said: "Today's healthcare challenges are many and complex; designing and integrating technologies that will help clinicians to diagnose and monitor patients is where the cross-disciplinary research we are funding at these IRCs can play a vital role. EPSRC funds projects that can make a real difference to people's lives, the efficiency of our healthcare system and to the economy."

Researchers from different disciplines, policy makers, industry and clinicians will work together at the IRCs to ensure that their research leads to the maximum benefit for healthcare users as rapidly as possible.


Contact: EPSRC Press Office
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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