Discipline Hopping x2: a next generation framework for multidisciplinary research between mathematics and regenerative medicine

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Mathematical Institute


The overall goal of our reciprocal Discipline Hopping proposal is to explore and identify ways in which mathematical modelling may be embedded in all stages of the regenerative medicine pipeline, from the initial laboratory experiments, to quantitative assessment of the cellular microenvironment, to optimisation of tissue engineering protocols, through to successful translation to the clinic.

The field of regenerative medicine has reached a key point in its development. As an exciting new advance brought in over the past 15-20 years, the potential for a major step change in healthcare therapy in the UK and worldwide was recognised. However, the complexity of the task was underestimated. To realise the full clinical potential offered by regenerative medicine, many facets of the field must be determined and defined to the standards and rigour of the scientific, regulatory and clinical community. While there is no doubt that many exciting and novel technologies and cell based approaches have been identified, they lack the quantitative approach and the predictive ability which is needed to make the long journey to the clinic.

To truly embed mathematics in regenerative medicine, a deeper understanding of the interplay between the two fields is required, achievable through a collaborative approach for both scientists. In order for us to define a new field in Quantitative Regenerative Medicine, we need participation in, and exposure from, both disciplines across the divide. We will achieve this by spending dedicated time in each other's research Institutions. Outcomes from our research will include an opinion article, research publications in internationally-leading high-quality journals, workshops linked to national and international meetings, and a framework for a novel interdisciplinary Centre for Doctoral Training application, which will train a new generative of highly skilled researchers at the interface between mathematics and regenerative medicine.

Planned Impact

The outcomes of this project will have significant impact across the healthcare and industry sectors as well as the general public.

Skills training and people pipeline: The research will directly impact the skills and people pipeline, by training researchers at the interface between regenerative medicine and mathematics with excellent interdisciplinary skills. This will impact industry, where there is continuous demand for highly-trained people working at the interface between the physical and life sciences.

Clinicians and the NHS: Embedding quantitative mathematical models in all stages of the regenerative medicine process will to lead to more rapid and cost-effective translation of regenerative medicine strategies to the clinic. Clinicians will have access to more rapidly available treatment strategies, enabling patients to regain activity and get back into their homes more quickly. The healthcare profession will benefit from alternative strategies to donor tissue transplantation. A decrease in the number of patients awaiting transplants will lead to a reduction in the associated healthcare costs and issues associated with bed blocking, with substantial economic benefits to the NHS.

Patients: The research will develop the characterisation and monitoring of tissue implants as well as support the translation of regenerative medicine products into the clinic, and hence affect the health and quality of life of patients in the long term. Advances in regenerative medicine technologies will reduce the time patients spend on transplant lists, and regenerative therapies using autologous cells avoid transplant rejection issues, and the need for immunosuppressant drugs.

Regulatory bodies: Quality control and characterisation of regenerative medicine products are still lacking in Regenerative Medicine manufacture. Research from this Discipline Hopping Award will provide new solutions to this challenge, and potential regulatory bodies who will benefit include the Health Research Authority, Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority, and the European Medical Agency.

Public engagement: The research outputs will impact the wider public. School children will benefit from a raised awareness of the opportunities arising from reading STEM subjects at University, thereby inspiring the next generation of researchers. Exposure of the general public to the far-reaching implications of the research outputs will raise public understanding of the value of mathematical research in the health sciences to address economic and societal issues and enhance wellbeing.


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Description The key findings and outcomes of this discipline hopper are:
Defining a pathway by which mathematics can be used for improving the translational pathway for regenerative medicine
Defining the type of maths which can be applied to multiple stages of the pathway
Identifying the need for training programme to support this field and provide interdisciplinary community able to speak across boundaries
New workshops and networks which bring communities from the MRC EPSRC BBSRC funded UKRMP Hub programme together with UK mathematicians across Universities
A white paper which was delivered to the UKRMP MRC EPSRC and BBSRC communities outlining the need for funding in this area.
An unfunded application for a CDT between Oxford and Keele and Birmingham rated with 5x6 reviews highlighting the need for a CDT in this area.
1 Review paper and 2 journal articles submitted and under review
Exploitation Route Creation of a call for further funding to support applied mathematicians working with the regenerative medicine translational pathway.
White paper will provide guidance to the community
Review being submitted in Nature Regenerative Medicine
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description Engagement with industrial sector
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Societal,Economic