EPSRC Capital Award for Core Equipment, King's College London

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Imaging & Biomedical Engineering


King's College London has launched a new department in Surgical and interventional Engineering which in embedded within one of the UK's leading NHS hospitals, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.

By creating the new Department of Surgical and Interventional Engineering (SIE), the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences (BMEIS) at King's is building on world-leading strengths in diagnostic imaging sciences and is expanding into the high-potential area of SIE. Combined with the existing expertise in translational research, a fully functional space for SIE will provide research staff with the means to deliver high-impact translational outcomes in SIE and give them additional opportunities to explore and cement novel cross-disciplinary collaborations.

The development of healthcare technology is complex, usually requiring the integration of many components and multiple validation stages before a final device - be it hardware, software or a combination of both - can be delivered for use in clinical studies and trials. Going through this complex pathway is compulsory to be able to reach standard of care. Few MedTech industries are willing to invest in innovative technology transfer without clinical feasibility demonstration, thereby limiting the current impact of SIE research. Furthermore, given the typical high cost of clinical infrastructure and the restriction imposed on equipment dedicated to standard clinical care, SIE researchers often develop technology in isolation from the target clinical environment which further limits the compatibility of their solutions with clinical practice.

We believe that the mock interventional suite, fit for cadaver studies, coupled with supporting specialist research infrastructure will provide a unique opportunity for SIE researchers to develop, integrate, evaluate and validate a vast array of innovative medical devices and procedures in a realistic re-creation of a clinical environment. Our mock interventional suite will be the first of its kind in the UK and in Europe, notably featuring interventional 3D X-ray imaging, ultrasound devices, endoscopy, robotic surgery, instrument tracking and cadaver facilities. An integrated ceiling mount system will combine display, lighting and video recording capabilities to re-create, record and analyse clinical workflows relying on innovative devices. Specialist equipment will support research in interventional devices featuring capabilities in areas such as photoacoustic sensing, molecular biophotonics, extero/proprio-ceptive microrobotics and hyperspectral imaging. This award will complement these capabilities by allowing the procurement of a robotic surgical microscope with fluorescence imaging, 4K stereo recording and surgical navigation features. This will support an expanded research portfolio within the EPSRC remit.

Planned Impact

This proposal is for investment in equipment to support and develop healthcare engineering research primarily led by King's College London.
The item of equipment to be procured through this call is a state-of-the-art robotic surgical microscope. The addition of the robotic surgical microscope will be available to researchers at King's and our collaborative partners across many sectors.

The microscope will have direct research impact for staff and students as it will:
- add value and complement all available experimental facilities within the multi-user laboratory space and mock interventional suite;
- contribute to developing a cluster of excellence across the UK;
- underpinning academic research in SIE will be strengthened;
- leading researchers at all levels attracted from across the world;
- visible impact on training early career researchers as many will find it an opportunity to develop new skills and understanding.

To ensure use of the additional items are maximised, we will update our collaborators on the capabilities of this imaging system on both the Wolfson and Wellcome grants.

Economic Impact: In the long-term, our innovative healthcare engineering technology will provide strong added value for the direct and indirect industrial stakeholders. We will thrive at protecting generated intellectual property (IP). By working with our existing and future industrial partners (including world leaders in developing, manufacturing and commercialisation of healthcare technology such as Siemens and Medtronic), we will be facilitating increased revenue and economic returns to the UK by associated skilled job creation. Further, we will create economic value by designing new healthcare technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) based interventional imaging products that can be distributed worldwide.

Societal Impact: The equipment being procured as part of this grant will strengthen our ability to translate new healthcare technologies into the clinical pathway. This will mean more efficient methods of treating patients will exist, which, in turn will lead to NHS cost-savings due to reduced workload of specialist staff and time will be the most rapid, tangible outcomes for all projects.


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