Investigations into an alternative and complementary method of discovering, developing, and testing new medical devices has received funding for ten years as part of the Academy’s Chair in Emerging Technologies scheme.
Professor Alejandro Frangi, Diamond Jubilee Chair in Computational Medicine and an associate member of LIDA at the University of Leeds has been named Chair and been awarded almost £2.7 million for his research.
He is using techniques developed in the emerging discipline of computational medicine where imaging, sensing, modelling and simulation converge. The ten-year support provided to the Chairs will enable them to progress their pioneering ideas from basic science through to full deployment and commercialisation.
The Academy has made awards totalling over £20 million in research funding through its Chairs in Emerging Technologies programme, providing long-term support to nine world-leading engineers across the UK to advance emerging technologies.
The new technology areas developed by the Chairs in Emerging Technologies have the potential to considerably benefit society and the UK economy, and enable the nation to remain at the global forefront of engineering innovation. The areas of research funded reflect the UK’s wider technological priorities, with many of the projects directly aligned to the government’s Industrial Strategy and designed to tackle some of the biggest industrial and societal challenges of our time.
Professor Frangi said: “Computational medicine can bring about a complete shift in the way devices are conceived, developed, and ultimately tested for the market.
We are developing methods and systems to realise the vision of ‘in-silico’ trials where computer analysis is used to engineer medical devices from their conception. Computer models will be looking at ways, and under what circumstances, a device could fail, cause harm or be ineffective for some groups – and all of this will be happening long before testing with real patients.
These in-silico trials are based on populations of virtual patients representing the natural variation, for instance, in people’s anatomical, physiological and biological make-up found in real-life or target populations.”
Professor Dame Ann Dowling, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “The new technological areas advanced by our Chairs in Emerging Technologies have the potential to transform our everyday lives, as well as positively impact to the UK’s economy and generate new sources of wealth. Engineering is critical to achieving the goals of the UK government’s industrial strategy, and investment in emerging technologies means that we can secure our footing in important future markets.
“For these technologies to reach their full potential it is important to invest in the pioneering individuals who advocate for them, as without their vision and foresight it is difficult to identify the products and services of tomorrow.”
The areas of research funded reflect the UK’s wider technological priorities, with many of the projects directly aligned to the government’s Industrial Strategy and designed to tackle some of the biggest industrial and societal challenges of our time.