EPSRC and MRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Optical Medical Imaging - Training the next generation of scientific entrepreneurs in healthcare tech.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Chemistry


The vision for our CDT in Optical Medical Imaging is to train the next generation of entrepreneurs with a "Heart for Science and a Brain for Business". The CDT will focus on a major priority area in applied physical sciences, optical imaging. Optical imaging /sensing is a major technological platform that is now ubiquitous in biomedicine and is rapidly emerging as an efficacious 'point of care' sensing and imaging modality in clinical medicine exemplified by its rapid, economic and high-throughput applicability. The future expansion and dissemination of physical sciences in optical imaging will depend on scientists with both academic and commercial acumen. Therefore alongside excellence of training and supervision in world-leading scientific environments our training program features a bespoke masters course in Healthcare Innovation and Entrepreneurship delivered by the University of Edinburgh Business School and the Hunter Centre (at University of Strathclyde) with the expectation that this unique and formal entrepreneurial training will breed a new generation of physical scientists trained within a clinically focused setting with the ability to fully exploit the UKs research potential in healthcare technologies.

Key elements of our CDT are:

(i). From outset we will engender 'cohort' cohesiveness. This will be achieved through initial weekend team building activities (including supervisors) at outdoor centres. Specific scientific training will be delivered 'en-bloc' in summer and winter schools and the establishment of 2 virtually-linked physical 'hubs' will allow activities such as a weekly journal club. Furthermore, twice monthly meetings of the entire CDT will ensure efficient communication/networking/collaboration. We will also explore the use of portable communication tools that allow all CDT members immediate communication and sharing of papers and information between the hubs.

(ii). PhD in Optical Medical Imaging: "CDT Scholars" will be assigned a supervisory committee comprising at least two supervisors originating from different schools (e.g. physical and medical/clinical), a pastoral mentor and a clinical mentor with the aim of enhancing the level of collaboration and the multi-disciplinary nature of the training. The PhD will encompass taught scientific components alongside week long intensive summer and winter schools to consolidate subject specific training. Scientific excellence is an absolute prerequisite.

(iii). CDT Scholars will gain an MSc in Healthcare Innovation and Entrepreneurship: A key aim of our training program is to produce business-ready graduates who are equipped with the skills required to translate their advanced knowledge of physical and clinical sciences into commercial and clinical reality.
The cohort of CDT scholars will participate in MSc training encompassing business and entrepreneurship skills; ethical innovation and new idea generation; venture financing; corporate partnering. CDT Scholars will also participate in comprehensive problem-based learning modules and 3-month secondments including placements with regulators, patent attorneys, innovation/incubator centres and companies.

(iv). Clinically focused training: "CDT Scholars" will receive generic and bespoke training. Generic training will include comprehensive problem-based learning modules in: Ethics; Regulatory governance; GLP/GMP processes; First-in-man clinical study development delivered by regulatory consultants and active clinicians. Bespoke training/exposure will be provided by clinician mentors aligned to the individual CDT projects who will provide bedside teaching within the adjoining Royal Infirmary.

In Summary, this CDT in Optical Medical Imaging will train the 'next generation' of healthcare scientists who will be empowered to gain the maximum impact from their research, commercial ventures, industrial applications and social engagements.

Planned Impact

This CDT in Optical Medical Imaging will generate numerous avenues for the realisation of impact spanning training, economic, industrial and academic arenas.

Training: The core of our agenda is to ensure that the UK has a strong and sustained pipeline of future innovators and research leaders in the global sector of healthcare technologies, encompassing the molecular, cellular, preclinical and clinical applications of physical sciences in the priority area of Medical Imaging. We will break down traditional 'barriers' between physical, medical, and clinical sciences, while engendering an entrepreneurial ethos. This will create a new cadre of scientist who are multi-skilled and equipped to meet the challenges of applying new technologies to healthcare provision, and who are trained and ready to "do business".

UK PLC: UK Healthcare must reap the dividend of the current 'revolution' in physical sciences. This training programme will deliver new leading-edge multi and cross-disciplinary training and research in exciting and highly translatable areas of optics, imaging and chemistry with clinical application. Our proposed CDT is driven by a clear industrial and "healthcare pull", it fits squarely with EPSRC goals in the Healthcare and Life Sciences sector. Enabling activities through our CDT will create a new generation of scientists, engineers and technologists with a translational agenda, mind-set and business awareness for the benefit of the UK economy.

Companies and Regulators: All the applicants have major interactions with industry, and many have direct personal experience of spin-off/spin-out companies, patenting and licensing. As the CDT progresses new commercial opportunities will undoubtedly arise - this will provide a fantastic training ground for the CDT Scholars in association with the Business School - and will allow them to gain real-life experience of commercial ventures, exploitation and translation.

Promoting sustained academic excellence: The unification of the £90M Technology and Innovation Centre at the UoS with the UoE physical scientists and engineers will generate a globally unique base for physical sciences training and research in optical technologies from optical nanometrology, super-resolution microscopy through to both fluorescent and vibrational sensors. These will be applied in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, College of Medicine in cross-disciplinary, cross-college, cross-disease applications from 'molecule to man'. The biomedical application of these optical approaches will span acute, chronic and regenerative processes in disease. Hence, this partnership will ensure the establishment of a global beacon with sustained academic excellence from which commercial, industrial and social impact will ensue.

General: Our multidisciplinary programme will provide many opportunities for involvement in public engagement and dissemination and our CDT Scholars will become national champions and advocates for the CDT programme, optical medical imaging and the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship. CDT Scholars will present at National and International Science Festivals and participate in a variety of out-reach activities such as the local 'Researchers-in-Residence Programme' which places postgraduate students in local secondary schools, Café Scientifique presentations, and exhibits in Glasgow Science Centre. Through these activities we will not only communicate our scientific findings, but also spread out enthusiasm for scientific research and translation.


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