New centres to boost health
Advances in medical engineering that could help improve the quality of life of an ageing population were showcased at the official launch of the WELMEC Centre of Excellence in Medical Engineering and its partner programme, the Innovation and Knowledge Centre in Regenerative Therapies and Medical Devices (IKC).
Work at the WELMEC Centre centres on technologies that will provide ‘50 active years after 50’, whilst IKC aims to translate innovations in healthcare from the lab to the bedside.
Funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the £20 million WELMEC Centre brings together over 200 engineering, physical science, life science and medical researchers from the University of Leeds and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust with clinicians and industrialists. It is based in the University’s world-leading Institute of Medical and Biomedical Engineering (iMBE).
The IKC will work alongside WELMEC to mix business knowledge with the most up-to-date research to harness the commercial potential of emerging technologies. New treatments or devices could include longer lasting joint replacements, tools for ‘virtual’ pathology, regenerative heart valves and blood vessels, and advanced tissue engineering for bones and teeth using nano-biomaterials.
“Whilst some of these technologies are quite expensive to deliver upfront, if you can eliminate the need for patients to have ongoing treatment and drugs, then it makes sense from a health economics perspective as well,” said Professor John Fisher, Director of the WELMEC Centre.
The IKC is funded jointly by the EPSRC, Technology Strategy Board and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, industry and the University. Additional new collaborative research funding of over £50 million has already been confirmed to match the IKC award, and the centre has identified research and innovation funding in this area of over £110 million during the initial five-year period of its activities.