UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


Healthy Ageing PhD studentship available for Lab-on-an-App: AI Empowered Point-of-Care Diagnostics

2 June 2021

UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering EPSRC PhD Studentships on Healthy Ageing

Project Title:  Lab-on-an-App: AI Empowered Point-of-Care Diagnostics for Ageing Population

Project Supervisor:

  • Professor Miguel Rodrigues | Dept Electronic and Electrical Engineering | University College London

Project Co-Supervisors:

  • Dr Mine Orlu / UCL School of Pharmacy | University College London
  • Professor Andreas Demosthenous / Dept Electronic and Electrical Engineering | University College London

Project Collaborators:

  • Dr Moe  Elbadawi / UCL School of Pharmacy | University College London
  • Professor Abdul Basit  / UCL School of Pharmacy | University College London
  • Dr Adam Daneshmend / Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Deadline: The closing date is 30th June 2021.

Project Description

Mobile health technology – encompassing mobile sensor, computation, communication, and user-interface capability – has the potential to support healthcare of an increasingly ageing population. It offers the opportunity to perform clinical diagnoses on the patient side, contributing to a more sustainable demand for healthcare systems in developed nations but also more widespread use of healthcare in developing ones. The overarching challenge relates to the development of high-accuracy, low-cost, portable mobile health applications capable of diagnosing a range of conditions prevalent in the older population.

One such condition relates to anaemia that nowadays afflicts circa 20% of the older population. This condition is both under-recognised and under-treated; leads to additional morbidities ranging from organ damage (heart, lung), immune system disorders, or fatigue in turn contributing to falls (hence bone fractures); and contributes to the financial burden of healthcare systems. Adults with some types of anaemias were considered as a vulnerable patient group requiring shielding due to their high risk of severe SARS-CoV-2 infection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The diagnosis of anaemia requires laboratory-based measurements of a venous blood sample but this is not always readily accessible to a large fraction of the older population, preventing timely interventions. Therefore, with an increasing number of diagnoses reported each year, there is also a demand for easily accessible portable diagnosic tools.

This project will develop a Lab-on-App to non-invasively diagnose anaemia and its causes (e.g. genetics, diet, or injury) that can be easily used by older people, carers, or healthcare professionals. It involves the development of:

(1) Sensor technology capable of extracting information / images from the body or body fluids including (i) electrochemical sensors to measure concentration of urea on urine or (ii) multi-spectral sensors to measure skin / body fluids appearance

(2)  Machine learning technology that delivers diagnoses of anaemia and its causes given the data collected by the aforementioned sensors.

(3) An android / ios application offering users an interface to collect data, analyse data, and deliver the diagnostics. 

This project also involves collaboration with multiple departments within UCL, along with our NHS partner. Interactions are also planned with other stakeholders notably the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering (IHE) (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/healthcare-engineering/ ).

It is anticipated that the successful demonstration of our proposed Lab-on-App will lead to additional work by this team using mobile health technology to diagnose other conditions afflicting older population (kidney diseases, colon diseases, or vitamin deficiencies).

Funding :

This is a fully funded 4-year studentship covering fees (home rate) and maintenance stipend at the UCL EPSRC DTP enhanced rate (£18,609 in 2021/22, rises with inflation each year). It also covers an RTSG (Research Training Support Grant) of up to £4,800 to cover additional costs of training eg courses, project costs, conferences, travel.

Studentships are automatically renewed each year provided that sufficient academic progress is made. 

Qualifications required: 

Candidates should have or expect to achieve an excellent degree(s) (BEng/MEng/MSc) in Electronic/Electrical Engineering, Computer Science or related disciplines. The ideal candidate would have experience/knowledge on one of the followings: 

  • Hardware / Sensor Technology
  • Machine Learning Technology
  • Healthcare technology
  • Python or related programming languages

The ideal candidate should also be passionate about healthcare, along with how technology can make a difference in healthcare. The ideal candidate will also have excellent communication skills in order to interact with researchers from various disciplines.


Applicants must fulfil the academic entry requirements for the programme they are applying to. In addition, applicants must also fulfil eligibility criteria based on nationality / residency specified below:

Funding eligibility criteria based on nationality

  • UK nationals are eligible provided they meet residency requirements.
  • EU nationals with settled status are eligible.
  • EU nationals with pre-settled status are eligible provided they meet residency requirements.
  • Irish nationals living in UK or Ireland are eligible.
  • Those who have indefinite leave to remain or enter are eligible.
  • All others are classified as "International".

Residency requirements for UK nationals

  • Living in EEA or Switzerland on 31-Dec-2020 (at that time UK was considered part of EEA) and lived in UK, EEA, Switzerland, or Gibraltar for at least 3 years immediately before the studentship begins.
  • Lived continuously in UK, EEA, Switzerland, or Gibraltar between 31-Dec-2020 and the start of the studentship.

Residency requirements for EU, EEA, or Swiss nationals with pre-settled status

  • Living in UK by 31-Dec-2020 (a requirement to receive pre-settled status).
  • Living in UK, EEA, Switzerland, or Gibraltar for at least 3 years immediately before the studentship begins.

These studentships are offered with open eligibility, however the number of International students which can be recruited is capped according to the EPSRC terms and conditions.

How to apply:

Applications must be made using the UCL online application system and Applications should be made using the UCL postgraduate study application form. Please mark it to the attention of ICE/Rodrigues.

 The application must be accompanied by a personal statement that includes how the candidate experience aligns with the proposed research; a curriculum vitae (with publications if any); and two references.

The successful applicant is expected to start on 27-Sep-2021.


For informal enquires please contact Prof. Miguel Rodrigues (m.rodrigues@ucl.ac.uk), Prof Andreas Demosthenous (a.demosthenous@ucl.ac.uk), or Dr. Mine Orlu (m.orlu@ucl.ac.uk)

About UCL, the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and the School of Pharmacy

University College London (UCL) was founded in 1826 as the third university in England, after Oxford and Cambridge. UCL is the first university in England to admit students of any race, class or religion, and the first to welcome women on equal terms with men. UCL is organized into 11 constituent faculties, within which there are over 100 departments, institutes and research centres. UCL has 983 professors and more than 7000 academic staffs who are dedicated to research and teaching of the highest standards. Its student community is almost 36,000, the largest in the UK. There are 29 Nobel Prize winners and three Fields medalists amongst UCL’s alumni and current and former staff. UCL is the top rated university in the UK for research excellence (REF2014). It has a strong tradition and large knowledge base in medical research with a dedicated institute on Healthcare Engineering and 10+ hospitals. UCL has world-class support for researchers and has been voted the best place for postdoctoral researchers to work for consecutive years by The Scientist magazine. The main campus of UCL is located in central London, close to British Museum, West-End and Thames River. 

The Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at UCL was established by Professor Sir Ambrose Fleming in 1885 and has a very strong research culture, state-of-the-art research equipment and facilities, and a very rich history of many fundamental research achievements in electronic and electrical engineering. The department has received top ratings in every UK research evaluation carried out to date. 

The UCL School of Pharmacy is one of the Divisions located within the Faculty of Life Sciences (FLS). The Faculty has been associated with seven Nobel Laureates and continues to build on its existing strengths in cell and developmental biology, evolutionary and population genetics, cellular and circuits neuroscience, and structural and molecular biology. 

The Division is one of the UK’s leading centres of pharmacy education and research it enjoys a lively and stimulating academic environment in which teachers, researchers, professionals and students interact. All are connected by an interest in medicines - how they work, how they are made and how they are used by people to prevent and treat disease. Research focuses on advancing and understanding medicines and health care, and in creating new medicines. Our performance in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 marks UCL School of Pharmacy as one of the most important centres for pharmacy research in UK education. 

Further information regarding UCL may be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/

Information about the departments may be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/eee and http://www.ucl.ac.uk/pharmacy/