By: 20 June 2014

Plans to build a new £25m biomedical engineering facility at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, have been announced. The latest project in the £250m long-term development of the site will add facilities to develop and test new medical devices in partnership with their users. This unification of research and treatment capabilities aims to unlock the potential of technology to improve patient wellbeing.

A joint initiative between UCL (University College London) and the RNOH, the centre is due to be opened in 2017 and is the latest phase of a vision to create a world leading biomedical engineering hub on the site. The new centre will focus on work in the fields of bioengineering and biomaterials.
Research currently underway in the UCL-RNOH partnership includes the development of materials for a unique wearable exoskeleton, assistive technology for people with spinal injuries and the safe packaging of implants to replace damaged electrical function in the body. The new development will provide hospital-grade facilities to translate these and other laboratory-based innovations into real changes in patients’ lives.

A new undergraduate programme, leading to a Technical Medicine BSc qualification, will be developed at UCL between the faculties of Engineering and Medicine to provide talented individuals with the integrated physical, medical and engineering sciences training they need to work in this area. Students on the programme will draw on the cross-disciplinary excellence of UCL and the unique Stanmore centre.

In a joint statement, Professor David Lomas, Dean of UCL’s Faculty of Medical Sciences and Professor Anthony Finkelstein, Dean of UCL’s Faculty of Engineering Sciences, said: “The fragility of the human body, particularly in the context of an ageing population, means there are an ever-growing number of people who rely on technology to keep their dignity, independence and quality of life.

“Innovation and engagement through the design, prototyping and fabrication of novel medical devices will be at the core of the new facility. It will contribute significantly to UCL’s teaching, research and direct engagement with clinicians and industry partners.

“RNOH Stanmore is an excellent location for this broad and exciting vision. It trains one-third of the UK’s orthopaedic surgeons and this specialised hospital is unrivalled in terms of the musculoskeletal conditions and patient numbers that it treats.

“By partnering with Stanmore we have gained excellent links with surgeons, medical staff and patient communities. We have already established a strong basis of existing projects for world-leading changes and look forward to doing more work to change lives.”

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