A new cross border medical engineering research centre was launched today in Ulster University. The Eastern Corridor Medical Engineering Centre (ECME) has received €8.2 million in EU funding to carry out research in improving cardiovascular care. ECME is a partnership between Ulster University, which is leading the Centre, and University College Dublin, Dublin City University, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Southern Health and Social Care Trust Cardiac Research Unit and the University of Highlands and Islands.

Cardiovascular (heart and circulatory) disease causes more than a quarter (26%) of all deaths in the UK; that’s nearly 160,000 deaths each year, an average of 435 people each day or one death every three minutes, and in the Republic of Ireland this figure is slightly higher at around 30%.

ECME will see researchers from academia and industry collaborate with partners in the health and social care system to create better models of heart disease care and develop new medical grade wearables and remote monitoring systems to improve clinical outcomes and patient experience.

Innovative medical technology has the potential to alleviate some of the current pressures facing our healthcare system. As waiting lists grow and the demand for hospital beds increases, medical technologies such as smart wearables, user-ready sensor technology and patient monitoring systems can improve diagnostics and patient outcomes and enable patients to live independently.

Professor Jim McLaughlin, Director, Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre (NIBEC), Ulster University said, “Ulster University has established itself as a global leader in both data analytics, artificial intellegence and medical related research. An integral part of our Health Technology Hub, this partnership will create better models for cardiac care through research and the development of generic solutions within the growing patient monitoring market.”

“Working with our project partners we will develop a cardiac data database to collate and analyse patient information from across the region and better inform decision making at both a clinical and policy level.”

“This partnership is an excellent example of industry, academia and healthcare joining forces to transform patient care and clinical outcomes.”

UCD’s Dean of Physiotherapy, Professor Brian Caulfield, a researcher in the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, a Director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics and an ECME principal investigator said, “The Insight Centre for Data Analytics at UCD is delighted to be part of the ground-breaking ECME research programme launched today which we believe will make a significant impact on the use of technology advances in the management of cardiac disease.”

He added, “At UCD and the at the UCD Beacon Hospital Academy we are combining expertise in artificial intelligence, data mining, human computer interaction, wearable sensors and clinical research to explore the role that patient generated data can have in driving an enhanced understanding of heart failure and promotion of self-management strategies.”

He concluded, “We are delighted to be collaborating with Dr David Burke from the Cardiology Department in Beacon Hospital on this research programme and are also excited by the many synergies that we see across the ECME network.”

In addition to Professor Caulfield the other UCD researchers who will be taking part in the ECME research programme are; Professor Brian MacNamee, Dr David Coyle and Professor Tahar Kechadi, UCD School of Computer Science and the Insight Centre for Data Analytics.

Rachel O’Neill – Editor