UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


UCL IHE-Rosetrees Trust Healthcare Engineering Awards: announcing the winners

28 May 2020

We are delighted to announce the four recipients of a new award scheme in collaboration with Rosetrees Trust.

Scientist in a lab

The UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Rosetrees Trust Healthcare Engineering Awards provide recipients with up to £50k, support from a Research Translation Mentoring Group and assistance from the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering professional services team. 

The aim of the award is to support early-stage translational projects with a high potential for impact on patient care and wellbeing.

Reflecting the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering’s role as an umbrella organisation that brings together multidisciplinary researchers involved in health, medical and digital technologies across UCL, the award supports interdisciplinary projects across a spectrum of healthcare-related themes. Projects address an area of significant healthcare need and have a clear pathway toward making a significant impact on healthcare.

About Rosetrees Trust

Founded in 1987 by Nat and Teresa Rosenbaum, Rosetrees is a private charity which uses entrepreneurial skills to find and fund the best medical research. At present, Rosetrees supports more than 300 ongoing projects a year, researching conditions as diverse as nanotechnology, regenerative medicine, cancer and neurological disorders. 

The UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Rosetrees Trust have close ties. In January 2020, Richard Ross, chairman of Rosetrees and son of Nat and TeresaRosenbaum, gave a colloquium talk at UCL titled ‘Poverty to Philanthropy’. He told the story of his family’s emigration from Poland to London, and how they went on to establish a successful business and then Rosetrees Trust on their 50th wedding anniversary. 

“Rosetrees funds venture philanthropy which means that we provide money at high risk to test new ideas with no guarantee of success. Rosetrees has, over the last 30 years, looked for the very best researchers with new ideas and approaches which, based on peer review, have the best chance of improving our health.

We are delighted that Rebecca Shipley used her initiative to invite the Rosetrees team to UCL to meet her high-quality team and discuss ways that we can work together for better outcomes.  This led to the UCL IHE Rosetrees Trust Healthcare Engineering Award which is a partnership whereby UCL uses its expertise to identify engineering solutions to medical problems, with Rosetrees collaborating with UCL to co-fund this model.

There was a considerable number of applications for this award and the four selected for funding are extremely high quality and cover a variety of different areas. We are hoping that this will be the forerunner of a system that runs for many years and grows to deliver enormous patient benefit. We wish everyone great success.”

– Richard Ross, Chairman of Rosetrees Trust

“These projects all have a significant potential impact on patient care and people’s wellbeing. They also represent the fresh-thinking and innovation of our healthcare engineering community. Interdisciplinarity is at the core of what we do as an Institute, and the strong interdisciplinary make-up of the winning teams is testament to UCL’s collaborative spirit.  We were incredibly impressed by the high standard of all the applications we received and I would like to thank everyone who applied. Also, an enormous thank you to Rosetrees Trust for making this scheme possible.”

– Rebecca Shipley, Director of the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering

The award recipients

Development of a point-of-care microfluidics platform to monitor kidney transplant rejection 

This project will develop a novel point-of-care device for monitoring kidney transplant patients.

For patients with end-stage kidney disease, transplants offer substantial benefits. Unfortunately, however, the long-term function of kidney transplants hasn’t improved by much over the last 20 years – around 40% of transplanted kidneys fail within a decade. The main cause of long-term transplant failure is rejection by the patient’s immune system.

The current method for monitoring transplant patients involves looking at their serum creatinine levels, however, this technique isn’t sensitive enough to detect early-stage rejection. This team’s device will look at urinary chemokines – small protein molecules produced by inflammatory cells. These are some of the most potentially useful markers in patients at risk of transplant rejection. 

Project team:
•    PI: Dr Manish K Tiwari, Professor of Nanoengineering, UCL 
•    Mr Reza Motallebzadeh, Associate Professor, UCL & Consultant Renal Transplant Surgeon, Royal Free Hospital 
•    Dr Stavroula Balabani, Professor of Fluid Mechanics, UCL 
•    Dr Mark Harber, Consultant Renal Transplant Nephrologist, Royal Free Hospital

Image Quality Control for PACS-integrated quantitative neuroradiology 

This project will produce a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence system to detect image quality issues in MRI brain scans. 

MRI brain scans are used by clinicians to help diagnose conditions such as dementia and epilepsy. Sometimes, however, image quality can adversely affect this decision-making process. This system would alert clinicians to image quality issues and their severity, to help them decide whether further scans are needed for improved diagnosis.

The system will use existing brain MRI datasets from UCL and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery that have already been assessed for image quality. The team’s hope is that in the future this could be extended to other conditions beyond dementia and epilepsy.

Project team:
•    PI: Dr Sjoerd Vos, Lecturer in Quantitative Neuroradiology
•    Prof Tarek Yousry, Professor of Neuroradiology 
•    Dr Gary Zhang, Reader in Computational Imaging

Leveraging the potential of advanced machine learning techniques to support clinical decision-making during emergency transport of critically ill children to paediatric intensive care

This project aims to help clinicians see signs of deterioration in sick children more quickly by applying machine learning techniques to ICU data. 

Seriously ill children in the UK are transported from general hospitals to specialist paediatric intensive care units by retrieval teams, who provide ‘mobile intensive care’ en route and monitor their vital signs. 

The Children’s Acute Transport Services team at Great Ormond Street Hospital is the first retrieval service to implement software that collects and stores high-resolution physiological data. With data from over 2,000 children, this is a significant resource to apply machine learning techniques and discover signs that predict the child’s illness trajectory. 

This project will create preliminary models to accurately identify children at high-risk and those likely to respond to specific treatments. 

Project team:
•    PI: Dr Kezhi Li Lecturer, AI in Healthcare 
•    PI: Dr Padmanabhan Ramnarayan Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care & Retrieval 
•    Prof Christina Pagel, Professor of Operational Research
•    Prof Mark Peters, Professor in Paediatric Intensive Care Medicine 
•    Dr Thomas Monks, Associate Professor of Health Data Science

Living with Prostate Cancer: Pro Care Zone: a digital prostate cancer support tool which builds on patients’, their carers’ and health care professionals’ participation to improve their experience and clinical outcomes in cancer care 

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in the UK – more than 130 men are diagnosed every day. 

Specialist treatments like surgery are performed at specialist hospitals, such as UCLH, and supportive care is delivered across local hospital networks. While this model improves patient outcomes, it can lead to confusion about who they need to see, where and what for. It can also cause problems with travel, missed appointments and a poor patient experience. 

For specialist healthcare professionals who deliver these treatments, it can lead to an increased workload and low job satisfaction. 

This project will develop a web and app ‘dashboard’ tool to support patients with prostate cancer, their carers and healthcare professionals. The digital health intervention will improve communication between groups, and provide informational and emotional support.  It builds on a similar tool that was successfully piloted for oesophageal cancer patients. 

Project team:
•    PI: Dr Patricia Schartau, Academic Clinical Lecturer in Primary Care and GP 
•    Prof Ann Blandford, Deputy Director (Digital Health) UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering
•    Prof Elizabeth Murray, Deputy Director (Clinical), UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering; Professor of eHealth and Primary Care; Co-director of the eHealth Unit

Congratulations to the award recipients and thank you to all applicants. You can stay informed about funding opportunities by subscribing to our monthly newsletter or checking our Funding page. 

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