EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Biomedical Materials

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

Biomedical Materials have advanced dramatically over the last 50 years. Historically, they were considered as materials that formed the basis of a simple device, e.g. a hip joint or a wound dressing with a predominant tissue interface. However, biomedical materials have grown to now include the development of smart and responsive materials. Accordingly, such materials provide feedback regarding their changing physiological environment and are able to respond and adapt accordingly, for a range of healthcare applications. Two major areas underpinning this rapid development are advances in biomedical materials manufacture and their characterisation. Medical products arising from novel biomedical materials and the strategies to develop them are of great importance to the UK and Ireland. It is widely recognised that we have a rapidly growing and ageing population, with demand for more effective but also cost effective healthcare interventions, as identified in recent government White Paper and Foresight reports. This links directly to evidence of the world biomaterials market, estimated to be USD 70 billion (2016) and expected to grow to USD 149 billion by 2021 at a CAGR of 16%. To meet this demand an increase of 63% in biomedical materials engineering careers over the next decade is predicted. There is therefore a national need for a CDT to train an interdisciplinary cohort of students and provide them with a comprehensive set of skills so that they can compete in this rapidly growing field. In addition to the training of a highly skilled workforce, clinically and industrially led research will be performed that focuses on developing and translating smart and responsive biomaterials with a particular focus on higher throughput, greater reproducibility of manufacture and characterisation. We therefore propose a CDT in Advanced Biomedical Materials to address the need across The Universities of Manchester, Sheffield and The Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM),Republic of Ireland (ROI). Our combined strength and track record in biomaterials innovation, translation and industrial engagement aligns the UK and ROI need with resource, skills, industrial collaboration and cohort training. This is underpinned strategically by the Biomedical Materials axis of the UK's £235 million investment of the Henry Royce Institute, led by Manchester and partner Sheffield. To identify key thematic areas of need the applicants led national Royce scoping workshops with 200 stakeholders through 2016 and 2017. Representation was from clinicians, industry and academia and a national landscape strategy was defined. From this we have defined priority research areas in bioelectronics, fibre technology, additive manufacturing and improved pre- clinical characterisation. In addition the need for improved manufacturing scale up and reproducibility was highlighted. Therefore, this CDT will have a focus on these specific areas, and training will provide a strongly linked multidisciplinary cohort of biomedical materials engineers to address these needs. All projects will have clinical, regulatory and industry engagement which will allow easy translation through our well established clinical trials units and positions the research well to interface with opportunities arising from 'Devolution Manchester', as Greater Manchester now controls long-term health and social care spending, ready for the full devolution of a budget of around £6 billion in 2016/17 which will continue through the CDT lifespan.

Planned Impact

There are numerous beneficiaries of this Advanced Biomedical Materials CDT. Firstly and of short term impact are the PhD students themselves. They will receive extensive research specific and professional/transferable skills training throughout the 4 years of the programme. They will have access to state of the art facilties and world leading academics, industry and clinicians. The training and potential placements are designed to maximise the impact of their research in terms of dissemination and movement of their research along the translation pathway.

Longer term benefits are that this distinct cohort will become the future UK Biomedical Materials leaders and be able to use their bespoke training and network within the cohort to collaborate on future worldwide funding opportunities and drive UK research in this area.

UK and international academics will benefit as they will gain the next generation of highly skilled postdoctoral researchers with knowledge and expertise not only in their specific research area but of industry, regulatory and clinical aspects.

UK and international industry will benefit - in the short term they will gain academic based research to further develop products and in the longer term have a pool of highly skilled graduates.

Clinicians will benefit from collaborative research and also the development of new and novel products to enhance the treatment of a variety of trauma and disease based needs from biomaterials.

The public will benefit as end users as patients that will have their quality of life improved from the products developed in the CDT and will be educated in novel technologies and materials to repair the human body. The UK economy will benefit from the reduced healthcare costs associated with the new and improved medical products developed in this CDT and subsequently from the trained graduates. The UK economy will also benefit from the increased revenue from medical sales products from the UK industrial partners we will be working with.

The impact of this CDT will be realised by direct academic, clinical and industrial engagement with the students allowing efficient and state of the at training and fast translation of developing products. Students will also be trained in knowledge exchange and will use these skills to disseminate their research to, and liaise with, the key stakeholders - the academic, industrial, clinical and public sectors. We will ensure widening participation routes are addressed in this CDT in order to include equality and diversity not only in our initial CDT student cohort but in future researcher generations to come.

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