Latest news from the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering
Dear healthcare engineering community,
These have been a momentous couple of months for everyone in the world, and healthcare in particular.
I have been moved and impressed by the response of our UCL community to the challenges set by COVID-19, from VaxHub's efforts to develop a potential vaccine to the use of 3D printing to produce PPE for our NHS colleagues. You will find many more examples of wonderful work being done at UCL in the 'News' section. Furthermore, if you have a research idea related to COVID-19 and would like more information or support, please do get in touch with us.
I have been so proud to work alongside a team adding to these efforts. From mid-March, mechanical engineers from UCL and Mercedes-AMG HPP have worked with clinicians from UCLH to reverse-engineer and mass-produce a Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP) device. This CPAP device, the UCL-Ventura, has already begun to play a key role in helping COVID-19 patients to breathe more easily and stay off invasive ventilation.
Whilst it has been incredible to see our colleagues rise to these challenges with such strength, I know that the uncertainty is also a difficult time for many of us. In this newsletter, you will also find some resources to help you navigate working remotely and managing your wellbeing.
Director, UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering
UCL engineers, UCLH and Formula 1 develop life-saving breathing aids for NHS
Our team of UCL mechanical engineers, UCLH clinicians and industry partners Mercedes-AMG High-Performance Powertrains have developed a breathing aid that can help keep Covid19 patients out of intensive care.
The breathing aid, known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to help COVID-19 patients with serious lung infections to breathe more easily when oxygen alone is insufficient.
The device, called UCL-Ventura, was produced within a rapid timeframe – it took fewer than 100 hours from the initial meeting to production of the first device. Following successful patient trials, it has gained regulatory approval and the Department of Health and Social Care has placed an order. We have now produced 10,000 of these for the NHS and are beginning distribution across the hospital network. If you are a UK healthcare professional, find out how to access these for your hospital here.
To help support the global fight against this virus, we have also made detailed designs and manufacturing instructions available at no cost to non-profits, manufacturers, health experts and research institutes across the world. As of yesterday, we had successfully shared these with over 1800 teams across 105 countries. Requests can be made through UCLB's licensing platform.
Prof Clare Elwell, (Vice Dean, Engagement) wrote this piece for The Conversation about how the project unfolded: "Coronavirus: inside story of how Mercedes F1 and academics fast-tracked life-saving breathing aid".
Check out our interactive map showing where CPAP licenses have been downloaded!
New deep learning approach can diagnose malaria as well as human experts
An international team led by Professor Delmiro Fernandez-Reyes (UCL Computer Science) has developed a deep learning system that achieves expert-level automated malaria diagnosis on routine blood films.
UCL & Global Disability Innovation Hub launch new innovation platform
The website provides global access to viable medical and protective equipment designs to aid the COVID-19 response. Read more about the project and get in touch if you have designs you'd like added to the platform.
UCL engineers 3D print PPE for frontline NHS staff
The team are producing visors for hospital staff using their own funds. You can learn more and contribute to their crowdfunding campaign here.
UCL VaxHub working with Oxford to develop a potential vaccine and human trials starting this week
Martina (UCL Biochemical Engineering) is working with colleagues from the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford. “One of the VaxHub technologies we were working on was an adenovirus platform manufacturing process. This is now being uses as a basis for manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine," Martina said.
Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute, spoke to the Guardian about starting vaccine trials. It was since confirmed that first human trials will begin this Thursday 23 April.
Professor Mervyn Singer & Professor Hugh Montgomery on 'Coronavirus: The Whole Story' podcast
Professor Mervyn Singer (Professor of Intensive Care Medicine and UCL-Ventura collaborator) and Professor Hugh Montgomery (Director of the UCL Institute of Human Health and Performance) spoke with Vivienne Parry about what happens to patients on intensive care wards. Listen to the podcast episode.
UCL Ventilator Design & Refine Sprint
On 19-20 March, we hosted an online design sprint alongside Global Disability Innovation Hub which allowed scientists, engineers, clinicians and industry experts to collaborate to find solutions to the global ventilator shortage. This activity was in collaboration with the Department for International Development and Brink. Read how it happened.
How data can be used to track population during COVID-19 lockdown
Location data can show areas of high activity during a lockdown and pave the way for more targeted intervention measures in places people continue to visit explains Professor James Cheshire (UCL Geography). Read the Guardian article.
Dr Lena Ciric on how to keep your household & phone clean
Lena (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering) wrote in The Conversation about which cleaning products will kill SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Read her article.
She also did a video for BBC News about the most effective way to keep your mobile phone clean. Read our Spotlight Interview with Lena from earlier this year.
UCL researchers develop jaundice detection app
UCL research is developing a smartphone app that allows users to check for jaundice in newborn babies simply by taking a picture of the eye. The technology may be an effective, low-cost way to screen for the condition. Read more.
UCL Computer Science students build FHIR operators for GOSH DRIVE and NHS
More than 100 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources were built during the two-day hackathon. Read Dr Dean Mohamedally's blog.
Seismic imaging technology could deliver detailed brain images
Scientists at UCL and Imperial College London have developed a new computational technique that could lead to fast, finely detailed brain imaging with a compact device that uses only sound waves. Read more.
Bacteria killed by new light-activated coating
A new coating that activates in low-intensity light to kill bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli has been developed by a UCL-led team of researchers. Read more.
Free access to UCLB platform to host technologies to fight COVID-19
UCL Business (UCLB – UCL’s commercialisation business) has enabled through its e-lucid licensing platform, the release of all the necessary design and manufacturing files to build the UCL-Ventura breathing aid. It is offering free access to the platform to any university or researcher in the world that wishes to license, under controlled conditions, technologies that could help battle, model or better understand the pandemic. covid19research.uclb.com.
The UCL Institute of Health Informatics Code Club
The IHI Code Club is a volunteer-led group open to anyone who engages in coding. Their main aim is to promote good coding practice, troubleshoot together and help participants upskill. Register and find out more about their upcoming sessions.
ACCELERATE Innovation: entrepreneurship skills for researchers
This one-day online workshop from the Academic Careers Office will focus on the fundamentals of developing an entrepreneurial mindset. It will help you heighten the impact of your research and think about the value that you are creating with/for existing and potential collaborators. Register now.
Wednesday 6 May, 9am-4.30pm | online
ACCELERATE Expertise: introduction to intellectual property
This half-day online workshop from the Academic Careers Office will go through the basics of Intellectual Property (IP) knowledge from a researcher perspective and the support available at UCL. Participants will also learn why IP is important especially as they create value in their research. Register now.
Thursday 21 May, 1.30-4.30pm | online
Support resources during the COVID-19 outbreak
UCL Human Resources have compiled a helpful hub of support available to UCL employees during this time, including emotional support, tips for working from home, and free online training. Find it here.
The Academic Careers Office has also put together a list of support resources, called 'Working in a Crisis'.
Video calling good for mental wellbeing and happiness
Video calling is just as good for people’s happiness as face-to-face interaction, and far better than phone or text conversations explains Professor Sophie Scott (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences). Read the Sky News article.
Making meetings accessible for everyone
As many of us adjust to working remotely, it is important that we consider the needs of everyone when holding video/phone meetings. The UCL Neurodivergent Staff Network has put together these guidelines for neurodivergent-friendly meetings.
Prof Anna Cox, ‘The Psychology of Successfully Working from Home’
This Monday, Anna held a Zoom meeting discussing her research and top tips for home-working, including how to create and maintain work-life boundaries. You can watch the YouTube recording here.
Engineering solutions for care homes during the COVID-19 epidemic
We are looking for ideas for engineering solutions to assist care homes to manage the COVID-19 emergency. This could include the development of novel approaches to prevent, detect, or manage COVID-19 outbreaks in care home settings by using existing technology (smart wearables, smart home ...) or completely new approaches. If you would like to contribute your idea to this initiative, please get in touch.
"I am an Engineer, Stay at Home" – call for participants
UCL Engineering in collaboration with Tomorrow's Engineers has launched a new initiative to support students and teachers learning at home. They are looking for engineers from all disciplines to take part. Find out more and sign up.
UK Parliament Covid-19 Expert Database
The Knowledge Exchange Unit at UK Parliament is looking for expert insights into many topics relating to Covid-19 and its impacts – covering everything from agriculture to taxation. If you have relevant expertise, join their Expert Database to help shape the debate and pass pressing legislation.
‘Academics Need to Talk’ global networking initiative
The Academic Careers Office (ACO) is launching a new scheme to help academics across the world stay in touch, develop new partnerships and spread kindness. The scheme is open to anyone at any institution in the world. To join, create a Calendly account then follow the instructions on the ACO’s website.
Volunteering with UCL Together
The coronavirus outbreak has affected our working lives in many ways. For some, there is an increase in workload, but others are left with more time in their hands. To tackle these challenges, UCL Human Resources has developed a new initiative to connect teams in need of more support. You can request temporary support or volunteer your time and skills. Please see more here.
UCL Coronavirus Response Fund
This initiative will raise urgently-needed funding for UCL’s targeted coronavirus research activity. By supporting this Fund, you will join a global community of friends, alumni, donors, students and staff, united in the service of UCL’s founding ambition – to make the world a better, healthier and more secure place for us all. Learn more and donate.
Call for PPE equipment donations
UCLH is urgently requesting donations of personal protective equipment:
They have also said that they will accept opened boxes – but not of respirators or surgical masks. They are particularly short of face protection at the moment.
- Disposable gloves
- FFP3 disposable respirators
- Full face shields
- Surgical masks
If you have any of the above, please contact Nick Everdell (Departmental Safety Officer, UCL Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering) along with instructions for security on where the equipment can be found.
Online public engagement training by UCL Culture
Interested in public engagement with research? Unsure of how it can be mutually beneficial for you and your public? Want to brush up on your knowledge and skills? UCL Culture’s Engagement team have launched free online training for UCL staff and students. For more information and to book, please see here.
Alasdair Dare, Select Committee Clerk, on his UCL Policy secondment
Earlier this year, Alasdair, Clerk to the House of Lords Communications and Digital Select Committee was seconded to the UCL Policy Impact Unit, within STEaPP. Read his blog: 'Select Committees 101'.
BSA Media Fellowship call - UCL Engineering deadline extended
UCL Engineering is sponsoring three media placements, giving academic staff the opportunity to work with the media. Previous placement have included time at the BB, Channel 4, The FT and The Guardian. Deadline for applications is 11 May. Learn more.
UKRI open call for research and innovation to address COVID-19
Proposals are invited for short term projects addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. There is no closing date – proposals can be submitted at any time. Learn more and apply.
NIHR travel and subsistence funding to support LMIC engagement during COVID-19
The awards will provide travel and subsistence funding to appropriately qualified public health professionals, clinicians and academics who wish to offer science and technical advice to support the immediate response to COVID-19 in low and middle-income countries.
See more information and apply. Deadline 31 December 2020.
Pre-announcement: ISCF Healthy Ageing Social, Behavioural & Design Research Programme
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will be inviting applications to the ISCF Healthy Ageing Social Behavioural and Design Research Programme from May 2020. £9.5m (100% FEC) will be available to support world-leading research that makes a significant contribution to the lives of people as they age. Learn more.