Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Medical imaging – including medical image and vision computing

Research into medical imaging instruments and signals for therapeutic, monitoring and diagnostic purposes. This research area includes instrumentation, image visualisation and image interpretation.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

We will focus investments in medical imaging research and training on our highest priority areas, early career researchers and the highest quality research and training.

High priority areas

We have several high priority areas.

Earlier diagnosis

We will focus investments on research that enables earlier and more effective diagnosis of physical and mental health conditions, to inform treatment planning.

Therapeutic imaging

We will also focus investments on research into therapeutic imaging during treatment to increase effectiveness and improve patient outcomes.

Automated extraction and integration

Automated extraction or integration of existing and additional information from clinical data or images is a high priority research area. This includes, for example, extraction and integration via machine learning or mathematical science techniques.

Portable imaging technologies

Affordable, portable imaging technologies that are suited to point-of-care environments globally are also a high priority area. The research in these technologies should reduce the current focus on a centralised, whole-body or large-subsection imaging facilities model.

Imaging technologies include:

  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • X-ray computed tomography
  • positron emission tomography.

Integrating imaging and sensing data

We will focus funding on research into the integration of imaging and sensing data such as that from wearable sensors. These should be at both the same and different length scales – from gene to cell to organ to whole body.

Novel imaging technologies

Another high priority research area is novel imaging technologies and modalities. They should address a demonstrable unmet clinical need or offer a significant benefit over current technologies. They should also have an identified place in the patient pathway.

Stakeholder engagement

We will focus funding on accelerating research impact in this research area through strong engagement with relevant stakeholders throughout research and training programmes.

Other technologies

Though this research area is clinically focused, there is also a unique role for other technologies to facilitate disruptive and transformative breakthroughs in medical imaging technologies.

They include:

  • novel engineering
  • information and communication technologies
  • mathematical sciences
  • physical sciences.

Research and training

Research and training in some of the rapidly expanding areas – such as underpinning data analytics, image analysis technologies, and methods such as deep learning and biomedical informatics – can be funded in other research areas.

Funding for surgical and interventional sciences can also be found in the Clinical Technologies research area.

Standard and other funding opportunities

In addition, peer review will consider investigator-led standard research grants and the highest quality applications will continue being funded using EPSRC’s standard funding opportunities.

Standard (sometimes known as ‘responsive’) funding opportunities are open to a wide range of research and approaches within EPSRC’s remit.

Why we're doing it

This research area is the largest in the Healthcare Technologies portfolio, with internationally leading research groups and individuals located at a number of UK institutions.

The medical imaging market is dominated by a few large multinational companies. The small and medium-sized enterprise sector in medical imaging is also thriving, with companies often acquired by larger organisations. Large pharmaceutical companies also have an interest in medical imaging technologies, especially the development of new imaging probes.

The UK is an international leader in medical imaging research and training. The quality and quantity of research undertaken is second only to the US and, in several key areas, is ahead.

Though clinically focused, this research area reflects the unique role of novel engineering, information and communication technologies (ICT), mathematical sciences and physical sciences research in facilitating disruptive and transformative breakthroughs in medical imaging technologies.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

EPSRC has made critical mass investments both alone and in partnership with the Medical Research Council (MRC), Wellcome, and Cancer Research UK.

Four medical imaging EPSRC centres for doctoral training (CDTs) were funded in 2013, securing over £9.5 million in additional support from project partners. Research-base funding successes have ensured a demand for postdoctoral research assistants, with industry also requiring significant numbers of postgraduate recruits.

In 2014, MRC coordinated the investment of over £74.5 million in medical imaging research infrastructure and associated equipment – for example, high performance computing facilities. While this is primarily used for clinical research, there are significant opportunities to undertake novel engineering, information and communication technologies, mathematical sciences and physical sciences research.

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for Medical Imaging (including Medical Image and Vision Computing).

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Who to contact

Last updated: 28 July 2023

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