UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


UCL engineers to explore healthcare challenges in two Royal Society Summer Science exhibits

13 March 2019

We are delighted to announce that we will be heading to the Royal Society Summer Science festival in July with two different healthcare engineering exhibits from UCL.

RS Summer Exhibition

We will be at the Royal Society Summer Science exhibition this July showcasing some of the cutting-edge research being developed at UCL. UCL’s healthcare engineering research will be celebrated in two interactive exhibits, ‘The Mathematics of Cancer’ and ‘Lighting the Way to a Healthier Brain after Birth’, alongside 20 other stands from other institutions and a series of talks, workshops and activities. The free, week-long festival will run from 1-7 July exploring the biggest questions in UK science and technology.


Read on to find out more about these exhibits and then join us in person in July to try our hands-on demonstrations for yourselves.

The Mathematics of Cancer

‘The Mathematics of Cancer’ exhibit will explore how mathematical modelling and advanced imaging can be combined in the fight against cancer.

The team of scientists behind this exhibit work on a modelling technique called REANIMATE, which creates highly detailed 3D models of individual cancerous tumours. They run experiments simulating the delivery of drugs into these ‘virtual tumours’. This helps them to predict the effectiveness of cancer drugs and has significant potential for the development of personalised cancer therapies.

You can find out more about the science behind this and its impact on REANIMATE’s webpage.



Visitors to the stand will use games and puzzles to try their hand at reconstructing ‘tumours’ themselves and delivering ‘drugs’ through the tumours’ vessels, revealing the complex and often hard to predict reality of cancer treatment and the way that mathematical modelling can help us. Visitors will also be able to virtually step into the environment of a tumour and explore it using Virtual Reality headsets.

'The Mathematics of Cancer’ is being led by Drs Paul Sweeney (UCL Mechanical Engineering) and Claire Walsh (UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging) and co-led by Drs Becky Shipley (UCL Mechanical Engineering) and Simon Walker-Samuel (UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging).

Lighting the way to a healthier brain after birth

This exhibit will look at how the principles of physics and light can be applied to help diagnose and monitor brain injury in newborn babies.

Metabolight stand

The MetaboLight team, which brings together UCL and UCLH engineers, physicists and doctors is leading this exhibit. MetaboLight has developed a light-based technique to help diagnose and monitor brain injury when blood supply is cut off to parts of a baby’s brain during birth and stop it working properly. Detecting and monitoring damaged brain areas is vital to help doctors treat these babies in the best way. Our UCL engineers have developed a safe, non-invasive way of shining light through the baby’s brain and detecting it with a sensitive digital camera. Unlike current clinical brain monitoring methods, this can be done at the cotside in the neonatal intensive care unit and can reveal detailed information about oxygen and metabolism levels, providing vital and potentially life-saving information for doctors.

You can find out more about the science behind this and its impact on MetaboLight’s website or by watching this video.

Our exhibit will expose and explore how we can monitor brain function using light and how our innovative instruments can inform clinical decision and improve patient care. Visitors to the stand can try out our optical hand scanner to see how light can go through their fingers and use our optical brain scanner to image their brain function as they are doing maths.  Visitors will also be able to walk through a recreation of a baby intensive care unit and listen to our team doctors talking about their experiences treating brain-injured newborn.

'The Lighting the Way to a Healthier Brain after Birth' exhibit is being led by Dr Ilias Tachtsidis (UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering) and Dr Subhabrata Mitra (UCL EGA Institute for Women's Health and UCLH Neonatal Care), with the support from a wide team.

 How to get involved

Stay updated by following our teams’ progress on Twitter at @reanimatecancer and @MetaboLight. As it gets nearer to the Royal Society Summer Science festival we’ll be releasing more details about both exhibits and where exactly you can find us. We look forward to seeing you there!

If you are a student or staff member at UCL and are interested in volunteering at either exhibit (or just want to find out more!) then start the conversation by emailing us at healthcare-eng@ucl.ac.uk with the subject heading ‘Royal Society Summer Science exhibition’. We will need people to help with setting up and dismantling exhibition stands, and talking to visitors about the science we’re showcasing. Full training and support is available.