According to one of the UK’s biomedical engineering research leaders, 75% of the current population 50 year olds will live to past 90. Should you live another 50 years past age 50, you are likely to walk another 100 million steps. With that background, the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee this week hosted a joint session with the Academy on ‘How does engineering provide better healthcare?’.

The speakers were Professor Molly Stevens, Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine at Imperial College, London; Professor Lionel Tarassenko FREng, Director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Oxford and Chair of the Academy’s UK Focus for Biomedical Engineering and Professor John Fisher FREng, Director of the Institute of Medical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Leeds, 

Professor Stevens described her work in biomaterials engineering, including the use of bioactive ceramics for hard tissue and polymer scaffolds for growing soft tissues.  She described how her team had tailored bioactivity for bone regeneration, a treatment that had received EU approval.  She underlined the broad range of skills in her team, which includes biomedical engineers, materials engineers, chemical, engineers and electrical engineers as well as surgeons, chemists and cell biologists.

Professor Tarassenko described his development of ‘mHealth’ using mobile phone technology to help the 12 million UK patients with such long-term conditions as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure self-manage. In 20 clinical trials and studies undertaken in a number of Primary Care Trusts and GP practices, significant improvements in patient outcomes and reductions in hospital admissions had been demonstrated. This points to huge potential for improving the care of people with long-term conditions and for major cost savings for the NHS.

Professor Fisher described his research programme that aims to create 50 active years of healthy life for people aged 50 by means of the development of new medical devices and regenerative therapies. Replacement knee joints are now being made with a 50 year lifetime for use in active older age. Biological scaffolds and regenerative therapies are being developed to recruit the patients’ own cells, to create new tissue for the body that won’t be rejected by the  immune system.  One new development is a heart valve that can be used with children and can grow with the patient.

The meeting also marked the launch of the first three of a new series of biomedical engineering and medical technology briefing papers that have been prepared by the UK Focus for Biomedical Engineering.

Notes for editors

  1. Biomedical engineering creates new medical technologies and systems that can greatly improve patient care and quality of life. The UK Focus for Biomedical Engineering is the Academy’s forum for this increasingly important area of engineering in which the UK is taking a lead.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email:  Jane Sutton