Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering


Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology visits UCL

10 August 2023

Three people wearing lab coats standing in a mock operating theatre

The UK Government has announced that £13 million will be invested to accelerate artificial Intelligence innovation in healthcare.

As part of the funding announcement, Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, visited UCL and was given a tour of the cutting-edge facilities at the Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences (WEISS)

In a mock operating room, Dr Sophia Bano, Assistant Professor in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at UCL, explained how her research is using AI to help advance endoscopy technology in pituitary surgery, assisting surgeons as they perform delicate keyhole surgery to remove small tumours from inside the skull.

The SoS was then given a hands-on demonstration of the technology by Consultant Surgeon, Mr Hani Marcus, Honorary Associate Professor (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology), who assisted the Minister as she guided the endoscope and surgery tool inside a ‘phantom head’, which is used for research and training.

 Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan, said: “AI will revolutionise the way we live, including our healthcare system. That’s why we’re backing the UK’s fantastic innovators to save lives by boosting the frontline of our NHS and tackling the major health challenges of our time.”

UCL recipients of the AI innovation to accelerate health innovation award:

  • Dr Sophia Bano (UCL Computer Science & WEISS): AID-PitSurg: AI-enabled decision support in pituitary surgery 
  • Dr Shah Anoop (UCL Institute of Health Informatics): Optimisation of natural language processing for real-time structured clinical data capture in electronic health records
  • Professor Pearse Keane (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology): From 2 million to 20 million: scaling and validating a foundation model for ophthalmology, including the detection of eye and other diseases