How to build new types of low-cost biosensors that access the biomolecules in blood, sweat and tears (and urine) is the focus of a new £8.6 million EPSRC programme grant that will fund three Cambridge researchers, along with teams at the Universities of York, Strathclyde and Exeter.
This collaboration will lay the foundation for a new era of precision health, helping to prevent disease with appropriate interventions and prolonging healthy lives.Professor Mark Girolami
Titled Ubiquitous Optical Healthcare Technologies (UbOHT), the project will develop 'BioSensors 2.0' – new sensors that are low cost and can be used outside of the hospital. These sensors will provide more detailed information than current devices and help medical professionals to better monitor, prevent and manage diseases.
“Our aim is to go beyond gathering simple data like heart rates and skin conductivity, to measure the hormones, proteins and viruses that signal your personal health,” said lead investigator Professor Jeremy J Baumberg from the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge.
Spearheaded by a consortium of leading scientists and industry partners, the vision of this collaborative project is to explore the underpinning fundamental science of BioSensors 2.0, while building a broad UK community to create new technologies and methods to interpret and use the data from these sensors.
“It is incredibly important to have clinicians and patient groups involved, to match technology developments with our societal aims,” said Professor Sarah Bohndiek from the Cavendish Laboratory and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.
“I am in no doubt that bringing data scientists together with nanoscale sensor developments is crucial to getting reliable, actionable and trustworthy information,” said Professor Mark Girolami, Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering at Cambridge. “This collaboration will lay the foundation for a new era of precision health, helping to prevent disease with appropriate interventions and prolonging healthy lives.”
Professor Girolami also holds the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair in Data-Centric Engineering (DCE) at Cambridge and is Academic Director for the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC). He is also Chief Scientist at The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.
“Future healthcare is going to be more about prevention than treatment,” said Robert Felstead, Deputy Director for Cross Council Programmes at EPSRC. “Personalised monitoring – in real time as users go about their everyday life – is potentially game changing. This investment by EPSRC in cost-effective precision health will bring benefits to patients, clinicians and society.”
In parallel to this national programme funding, Professor Jeremy J Baumberg has also been awarded an ERC Proof of Concept grant. Worth €150 000, the grant will be used to explore the commercial and societal potential of new low-cost mid-infrared light detectors. This funding is part of the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe.
Adapted from a Department of Physics news article.