UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


Symposium showcases UCL’s healthcare engineering excellence

9 October 2018

On 1 October, we hosted our inaugural Autumn Research Symposium at the Wellcome Collection.

Symposium audience

On 1 October, we hosted our inaugural Autumn Research Symposium at the Wellcome Collection. 

Featuring over 30 talks from engineers, scientists and clinicians, the symposium was an opportunity to showcase UCL’s latest world-class research in healthcare engineering. 

The day commenced with an introduction from Dr Rebecca Shipley, Director of the Institute of Healthcare Engineering, Prof David Lomas, Vice Provost (Health) and Prof Nigel Titchener-Hooker, Dean of Faculty of Engineering Sciences. Outlining the Institute’s vision, Rebecca emphasised the need for interdisciplinary collaboration and clinical partnership.

Rebecca Shipley and Miranda Nixon

Dr Rebecca Shipley, Director of the Institute of Healthcare Engineering (left) and Miranda Nixon, UCL Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering 

Attendees heard presentations from researchers working at the forefront of advances in healthcare engineering. Talks were divided into sessions based on the IHE's themes that cut across the spectrum of healthcare need: prevention, monitoring, diagnostics, therapies and interventions, and rehabilitative and assistive technologies. The following examples provide a glimpse of the kinds of pioneering research on show. 

As part of the Prevention segment, Prof Aroon Hingorani, UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science, discussed his research into genetic causes of heart disease. Aroon has been conducting research to identify which genome variants influence disease susceptibility by comparing the frequency of these variants in people with cardiovascular disease with those without. This will provide valuable insight into ways to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease in people who are inherently at risk.

In the Monitoring session, Dr Xiao Liu, UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, described his work developing medical sensors. With his team from the Sensors Systems and Circuits Group, Xiao is creating a low-cost, batteryless wireless drug dosage sensor which can determine the release rate during drug delivery. This sensor, which transfers important drug delivery information to a wireless reader, forms a major step towards low-cost personalised disease management. 

Next up in Diagnostics, Dr Pearse Keane from Moorfields Eye Hospital spoke about his research using artificial intelligence in ophthalmology. Using 15,000 optical coherency tomographty (OCT) scans, researchers 'taught' the computer how to spot signs of eye disease as accurately as expert opthalmologists. The system could be of enormous benefit to the NHS and has the potential to transform the diagnosis and treatment of eye disease patients across the world.

In the Therapies and Interventions portion, Dr Simon Walker-Samuel from the Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging explained his research into cancerous tumours. Alongside Rebecca Shipley, Simon has designed a technique to create highly detailed 3D models of individual tumours and simulate drug delivery. This technology allows clinicians to determine the most effective therapeutic plan for a patient and minimise adverse side effects. 

Rui Loureiro

Dr Rui Loureiro, Aspire CREATe

During the Rehabilitative and Assistive Technologies session, Dr Rui Loureiro, Aspire CREATe, demonstrated his research into alleviating pain for sufferers of phantom limb syndrome. Using virtual reality and haptic technology, Rui and his team have been able to drastically reduce pain in a number of patients. 

A full list of the rest of the speakers and the subjects of their talks is available on our events page

At midday, we held Early Career flash talks, where eleven participants were challenged to describe their research in just under five minutes. The standard here was incredibly high, with CJ Luo taking the award for Best Talk. She spoke about the translational barriers of using nano-fibres in tissue engineering and how she is working to overcome these. "I was very grateful to be invited to present during the ECR session," CJ said. "I was deeply impressed by the breadth of the talks which showcased the extensive translational network for healthcare research at UCL".

CJ Luo

CJ Luo and Prof Nigel Titchener-Hooker, Dean of Faculty of Engineering Sciences at UCL

Miranda Nixon was also awarded a prize for Best Presentation with a Global Healthcare Engineering theme for her talk. She presented research that aims to make screening for conditions such as anemia and jaundice more accessible worldwide by utilising smartphone technology. 

We then moved onto lunch and an Early Career poster session. Biswajoy Bagchi won the prize for Best Poster, presenting his work on flexible sensors, "The IHE Symposium gave me an opportunity to interact with scientists from across UCL. I am excited by the prospect of joining forces with researchers from computer science, biomedical engineering and robotics". 

Biswajoy Bagchi

Biswajoy Bagchi and Prof Geraint Rees, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Life Sciences

The day’s speaker sessions were followed by networking drinks and research demonstrations in the evening. The demos included a haptic photobooth which allowed attendees to create their own 3D avatar, as well as a display of the SmartLiver software, which recently won best prize at UCLH Research Open Day. 

Research demo

Speaking about the success of the first annual research symposium, Rebecca Shipley said, The high standard of presentations was a real testament to the strength and diversity of UCL’s healthcare engineering research. It was inspiring to hear from such a fascinating range of leading speakers, as well as our flourishing early career community”.

We would like to thank all of our presenters and everyone who attended the symposium for ensuring it was such a memorable occasion. We look forward to continue working with you all and growing healthcare engineering innovation at UCL.