Ambitions of our health technologies strategy

Two men using a skinometer and monitoring on a computer screen

A new EPSRC strategy will stimulate advances in engineering and physical sciences that enable people to live healthier lives.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) healthcare technologies theme is playing a vital role in providing solutions that underpin the healthcare and life sciences sector.

The theme draws from the entire EPSRC research and training portfolio, providing solutions that underpin the healthcare and life sciences sector, including the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries and the NHS.

Engineering and physical sciences research creates new techniques and technologies which:

  • advance the prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, and management of health conditions, for example through new imaging technologies and drug delivery techniques
  • enable greater biomedical understanding and pull-through to therapy. Examples include modelling techniques and scale-up technologies
  • have the potential to transform future health delivery systems

Emphasising the role of engineering and physical sciences research

Our new strategy is a strategy for health technologies in recognition of the significant and wide-ranging impact engineering and physical sciences research can have on enabling people to be healthier and live better lives. This is an exciting and broader scope for our theme than previously and we hope will stimulate new thinking and new approaches to wellbeing and prevention of disease.

Introducing our new strategy

The new health technologies strategy is a refreshed vision for EPSRC to stimulate advances in transformative engineering and physical sciences research to have a significant impact in health and ultimately enable people to live healthier lives.

The new strategy was developed in response to community advice and changes to the healthcare landscape since the original strategy was published in 2015. The strategy was developed over the course of a year in consultation with an array of academic, industry and policy experts.

Three strategic areas

The strategy focuses on three areas:

Improving population health and prevention

This challenge will stimulate new research to develop new tools and technologies for promoting wellbeing in a population, addressing the determinants of health (in the physical environment). As well as tackling the causes of disease and enabling people to have a better quality of life.

Transforming early prediction and diagnosis

Early diagnosis of disease can mean the difference between life and death. The earlier disease or signs of disease are spotted often the less extreme the intervention required is to restore health.

There is a huge potential for technology to revolutionise the way we diagnose disease. For example, using non-invasive sensors to detect pre-disease states through to the use of digital technologies to help people manage their own healthcare needs without the need for multiple trips to the hospital.

Discovering new interventions

New therapies for chronic conditions, advances in robotic surgery and new materials to promote tissue growth are just some of the very exciting areas where engineering and physical sciences can improve healthcare.

Huge potential for impact

Sustainable manufacturing of medicine either at scale or at the personal level is also a key area and one where there is huge potential for impact.

To make sure these challenges are realised in a way that is responsible and most likely to lead to impact in the health space, we also have some key enablers that form part of the strategy:

  • responsible approaches to data
  • public patient involvement and engagement
  • sustainable healthcare, improving translation readiness
  • reducing health inequalities
  • supporting knowledge and skills in health technologies

We are looking to develop an action plan based on the strategy, looking at identifying the short, medium and long-term actions and how EPSRC can facilitate them.

Find out more

We are running several regional events to launch our new health technologies strategy. The events will take place in person in four locations across the UK in May and June. The events will take place in Edinburgh, Cardiff, London and Manchester.

These events will be a great opportunity to find out more and help EPSRC develop our strategy action plan.

To find out more about future funding opportunities and events, you can sign up to the health technologies newsletter.

Or get in touch with us by contacting:

Top image:  Credit: Professor Emma MacPherson, The University of Warwick

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