Current research funding in the Centre for Bioengineering

Centre for Bioengineering

Funded Research Projects

The following are current funded research projects taking place within the research centre:

Building the gut microbiome

Principal Investigator:
Funding source: EPSRC
Start: 01-11-2023  /  End: 31-10-2028
Amount: £1,729,528

Bacteria hugely impact many aspects of our lives, including health, agriculture, industry, water treatment services, and the climate. Often, they live together in densely packed communities, where they can strongly interact with each other. In particular, the 'bacterial communities' living in our digestive tract are now known to be essential for our health and well-being, such as protecting us from harmful bacteria, improving our nutrition, and training our immune systems. Critically, changes in the community composition and structure can lead to chronic and life-threatening diseases. Therefore, we must understand how these bacteria interact with each other and ourselves if we want to unlock further health benefits available to us. However, it is extremely difficult to study and understand these bacterial communities, especially at the tiny scales at which they naturally occur. New methods are urgently needed to build simplified bacterial communities and their hosts, capturing the complex arrangements and interactions of different bacteria found within us. My goal is to build new tractable models - using 3D printing and flow systems - to study how the composition and structure of the community and the host determine how bacterial communities persist over time, and importantly, if they thrive or perish. I have chosen to work in this research area because I believe I can vastly improve our understanding of the link between the host, community structure, and community function by building simplified microbiome models. Importantly, the technologies and understanding I develop throughout this proposal will not only benefit human microbiome research, but microbial communities found throughout the environment.

How do we repair preterm membranes after rupture?
Extreme heat and preterm birth in rural zimbabwe

Principal Investigator: Tina CHOWDHURY
Funding source: Wellcome Trust
Start: 01-09-2023  /  End: 31-08-2028
Amount: £207,631

This project worth £1.9M is funded by Wellcome and led by Prof Andrew Prendergast who is the Director of the Zvitambo Institute for Maternal and Child Health Research in Zimbabwe and has established clinical trials to improve healthy birth and growth.

Tommy’s National Preterm Birth Centre
Tommy’s National Preterm Birth Centre

Principal Investigator: Tina CHOWDHURY
Funding source: Tommy's charity
Start: 01-04-2023  /  End: 31-03-2028

We are investigating a novel solution to heal the fetal membranes after iatrogenic rupture with a long-term view to translate this to pregnancies affected by spontaneous PPROM.

AI-guided Prostate Biopsy
AI-guided Prostate Biopsy

Principal Investigator: Zion TSE
Funding source: AMS Academy of Medical Sciences
Start: 31-03-2023  /  End: 30-03-2028

The AMS Professorship will enable Prof. Tse's team to clinically validate next-generation interventional technology for affordable image fusion with a small footprint and translate it to clinical practice. Zion’s planned project, a collaboration between his lab and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, will aim to improve freehand transperineal prostate cancer biopsy by developing an integrated 3D MRI-US image fusion system built upon state-of-the-art AI techniques. This system will help clinicians precisely navigate needles to lesions in the prostate for more effective diagnosis and treatment.

The role of novel mechanosensitive complex in cardiomyocyte pathophysiology

Principal Investigator: Thomas ISKRATSCH
Funding source: BHF British Heart Foundation
Start: 01-10-2024  /  End: 30-09-2027
Amount: £285,532

Talin dependent mechanical imprinting as driver for cardiac disease progression

Principal Investigator: Thomas ISKRATSCH
Funding source: BHF British Heart Foundation
Start: 08-01-2024  /  End: 07-01-2027
Amount: £718,167

Scalable Manufacturing of Single-Crystal Perovskite Optical and Electronic Devices: Follow-On

Principal Investigator: Lei SU
Co-investigator(s): Oliver FENWICK and Colin CRICK
Funding source: EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Start: 01-12-2023  /  End: 30-11-2026
Amount: £941,955

In this project, we will develop technologies for scalable manufacturing of single-crystal perovskite optical and Electronic Devices.

Mapping populations to patients
Mapping populations to patients: designing optimal ablation therapy for atrial fibrillation through simulation and deep learning of digital twin

Principal Investigator: Caroline RONEY
Funding source: UKRI Medical Research Council
Start: 01-11-2022  /  End: 31-10-2026
Amount: £1,224,259

We will combine biophysical simulation and deep learning methods with a longitudinal digital twin approach to optimise risk prediction and choice of therapy for atrial fibrillation. We aim to move predictions from the acute response to the long-term response; from the average patient to an individual patient; from standard treatments to any treatment approach; from small patient cohorts to large virtual trials; and from long simulation times to short clinical timescales.

Integrated Human-Augmented Robotics and Intelligent Sensing Platform for Precision Viticulture

Principal Investigator: Ketao ZHANG
Co-investigator(s): Lei SU
Funding source: Innovate UK
Start: 01-09-2023  /  End: 31-08-2026
Amount: £297,599

This project aims to revolutionize the way high-value horticultural crops such as grapes, berries, and other fruits are grown by developing and implementing a precision farming ecosystem.

Engineered Recombinant Strategies to Organogel Design for Food Product Formulations

Principal Investigator: Julien GAUTROT
Funding source: Motif Food Works Inc
Start: 01-09-2022  /  End: 31-08-2026
Amount: £32,500

Development and Validation of Smartphone-Based Tools for Characterisation of Gait

Principal Investigator: Caroline RONEY
Co-investigator(s): Zion TSE
Funding source: Innovate UK
Start: 10-04-2024  /  End: 09-04-2026
Amount: £227,485

Development of an Organ-on-a-chip model of polycystic kidney disease using CRISPR modified human kid

Principal Investigator: Martin KNIGHT
Funding source: Kidney Research UK
Start: 01-12-2023  /  End: 30-11-2025
Amount: £39,986

Tomo-SAXS: Imaging full-field molecular-to-macroscale biophysics of fibrous tissues

Principal Investigator: Himadri GUPTA
Funding source: EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Start: 01-01-2021  /  End: 25-10-2025
Amount: £451,556

This project will combine X-ray phase-contrast tomographic imaging and small-angle X-ray scattering to develop a path-breaking new technique - TomoSAXS – for the multiscale biophysics of tissues. We will develop advanced reconstruction algorithms to generate full-field 3D images of molecular to macroscale soft tissue structure, using the intervertebral disc as a prototypical organ.

G1F1 Application of a new high throughput platform for validation of mechanosensitive miRNA

Principal Investigator: Rob KRAMS
Co-investigator(s): Gleb SUKHORUKOV
Funding source: BHF British Heart Foundation
Start: 03-10-2022  /  End: 02-10-2025
Amount: £117,986

Designing motile and chemotactic protocells and exploit cellular collective behaviours

Principal Investigator:
Funding source: BBSRC Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Start: 02-01-2023  /  End: 30-09-2025
Amount: £371,059

ProNaGen: Engineering of Recombinant Protein Nanosheet-Based Bioemulsions for Next Generation Bioprocessing and Biomanufacturing

Principal Investigator: Julien GAUTROT
Funding source: EPSRC - EU Scheme
Start: 01-11-2023  /  End: 30-04-2025
Amount: £125,329

Single crystal perovskite fibre

Principal Investigator: Lei SU
Co-investigator(s): Oliver FENWICK
Funding source: EPSRC IAA; HEIF
Start: 01-09-2023  /  End: 31-03-2025
Amount: £100,000

In this project, we will explore the application of single-crystal perovskite fibres.

Versus Arthritis
Human synovium-cartilage organ-chip for personalised surgical screening

Principal Investigator: Timothy HOPKINS
Co-investigator(s): Martin KNIGHT
Funding source: AR-UK Versus Arthritis
Start: 01-04-2022  /  End: 31-03-2025
Amount: £311,203

Scientists at Queen Mary University of London are creating a human knee-on-a-chip device to understand how arthritis develops in individual patients and to test treatment strategies. The so-called organ-on-a-chip will consist of living cells taken from the knee joints of patients with osteoarthritis. The cells from patient’s cartilage and other tissues within the knee, will be grown within the laboratory in a carefully bioengineering organ-on-a-chip and used to understand which patients respond well to treatment. This will ultimately allow clinicians to optimise therapies to individual patients in an approach known as precision medicine or personalised medicine.

MRI-guided Focal Laser Ablation for Prostate Cancer Treatment
MRI-guided Focal Laser Ablation for Prostate Cancer Treatment

Principal Investigator: Zion TSE
Funding source:
Start: 01-03-2020  /  End: 28-02-2025

Prostate cancer is one of the most common malignancies in males and has now become the second leading cause of cancer mortality. Prostate cancer diagnosis has increased from 3.9% to 8.2% of the population in the past decade. Approximately 52,300 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the United Kingdom every year, which is more than 140 every day. In this study, a robotic platform used for MRI-guided prostate therapy, including both biopsy and ablation, will be developed and validated. Compared with all the listed MR-safe robot platforms, the presented design will have a compact size, allowing it to be placed inside the scanner quickly. Moreover, the use of pneumatic stepper actuators will reduce the affection of EMI generated by piezoelectric motors and all the other parts are made of plastic, making the whole system to be MR safe.

KRUK Dialysis Competition
Wearable sensor for vascular access home monitoring

Principal Investigator: Lei SU
Co-investigator(s): Haixue YAN
Funding source: Kidney Research UK
Start: 01-01-2023  /  End: 31-12-2024
Amount: £25,000

Kidney Research UK Dialysis Competition

Microbiome-Bone Chip

Principal Investigator: Stefaan VERBRUGGEN
Funding source: EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Start: 01-01-2024  /  End: 31-12-2024
Amount: £117,511

Remote Vital Signs Monitor for Infection Control or Fall Prevention
Remote Vital Signs Monitor for Infection Control or Fall Prevention

Principal Investigator: Zion TSE
Funding source:
Start: 01-11-2022  /  End: 31-10-2024

Recent miniaturisation developments in electronic systems have resulted in a wearable technology boom. This in turn has led to an increase in both vital sign monitoring and research into non-invasive and continuous monitoring methods. Various studies have shown the feasibility of using seismocardiogram (SCG) in heart rate variation (HRV) analysis and diagnostic purposes. This study aims to build upon the research done on SCG through development of a novel, real time Android based system which can calculate the heart rate and the respiratory rate of patients.

Engineering Circadian Biology into Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Organ-on-a-Chip models

Principal Investigator: David LEE
Funding source: BBSRC Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Start: 01-02-2022  /  End: 31-08-2024
Amount: £201,874

British Heart Foundation – 4 year Doctoral Training Programme

Principal Investigator: Amrita Ahluwalia
Co-investigator(s): David LEE
Funding source: British Heart Foundation
Start: 01-09-2017  /  End: 31-08-2024
Amount: £2,300,000

Led by Professors Amrita Ahluwalia and Tim Warner and involving 23 named researchers, the BHF DTP Programme provides cohort training leading to a PhD in cardiovascular research.

Radio Opaque Cements and Osteoclast Testing: Traceable Bio-Remodellable Cements

Principal Investigator: Karin HING
Funding source: Innovate UK
Start: 25-03-2024  /  End: 24-07-2024
Amount: £41,283

Dual targeting and triggered delivery of biomacromolecules from layer-by-layer decorated gas filled

Principal Investigator: Gleb SUKHORUKOV
Funding source: Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Start: 01-07-2022  /  End: 01-07-2024
Amount: £292,164

Proposed Emulate bone metastasis organ-chip
Organ-on-a-chip model of breast cancer bone metastases

Principal Investigator: Martin KNIGHT
Funding source: CR-UK Cancer Research UK
Start: 01-01-2021  /  End: 31-05-2024
Amount: £268,711

Background A common site for invasive ductal carcinomas (IDC) metastasis is bone, affecting about 70% of patients. Once metastasis to bone has occurred the five-year survival rate drops from 99% to 29%.  How breast cancer metastasises to bone is poorly understood, partly because of the lack of appropriate models. Organ-on-a-chip technology is …