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£30m boost for biomedical engineering

Mark Gould

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

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The Wellcome Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have today announced a joint £30 million initiative to find biomedical engineering solutions to challenging healthcare problems

The Wellcome Trust and Science Minister David Willetts say they want to see applications for projects that will tackle problems of the highest priority in healthcare or public health for which solutions are not obvious given the current state of technology.

Priority will be given to bids that address such problems as developing technologies to tackle rare diseases, facilitating care for babies and infants that accommodates challenges posed by growth and development, and finding engineering approaches for mental health problems.

The Innovative Engineering for Health partnership will provide funding for a limited number of ground-breaking long-term projects that address healthcare needs for which current solutions are inadequate.

Up to £10m over seven years is available for each project, reflecting the scale of ambition that the initiative seeks to support. Uniquely, the initiative provides the resources and flexibility to both conduct high-quality basic research and enable its adoption into clinical or public health practice.

The new initiative builds on the success of a £45m capacity-building initiative from the two funders to support four multidisciplinary centres of excellence in medical engineering around the UK.

Engineering and the physical sciences have played a role in many of the most significant advances in healthcare in our time. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), fibre-optic surgical techniques, robotic prostheses and automated genetic sequencing are just some of the advances in healthcare that would not have been possible without technology from the physical sciences.

Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts, said: "Bringing together the UK's world-class biomedical and physical sciences researchers will be vital in developing the technology to solve our biggest healthcare challenges. This unique initiative supports both basic science and its translation, advancing knowledge and bringing benefits for patients."

Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "The research environment for biomedical engineering in the UK has benefited enormously from the collaboration between EPSRC and the Wellcome Trust, and we are delighted to announce this new initiative, bringing together multidisciplinary teams that will tackle some extremely important medical challenges."

The new scheme is open to global applications, and particularly encourages collaboration between the UK and the best international groups.

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