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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory
Graphic illustration of a hand holding a phone and connected to a health monitor and a computer

That's the new challenge of an £8.6M EPSRC programme grant on Ubiquitous Optical Healthcare Technologies (UbOHT) that will fund three Cambridge researchers, along with teams at York, Strathclyde and Exeter.

The project will develop 'BioSensors 2.0', new sensors that are low-cost and can be used outside of the hospital. These sensors would provide more detailed information than current devices and help medical professionals to better monitor, prevent and manage diseases.

"Our aim is to go beyond gathering simple data like heart rates and skin conductivity, to measure the hormones, proteins, and viruses that signal your personal health", said lead investigator Prof Jeremy J Baumberg from the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge.

Spearheaded by a consortium of leading scientists and industry partners, the vision of this collaborative project is to explore the underpinning fundamental science of BioSensors 2.0 while building a broad UK community to create new technologies and methods to interpret and use the data from these sensors.

"It is incredibly important to have clinicians and patient groups involved, to match technology developments with our societal aims,” emphasised Prof Sarah Bohndiek also from Cavendish Laboratory and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.

"I am in no doubt that bringing data scientists together with nanoscale sensor developments is crucial to get reliable, actionable, and trustworthy information," said Prof Mark Girolami, chief scientist of The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence. “This collaboration will lay the foundation for a new era of precision health, helping to prevent disease with appropriate interventions and prolonging healthy lives.”

“Future healthcare is going to be more about prevention than treatment,”, said Robert Felstead, Deputy Director for Cross Council Programmes at EPSRC. “Personalised monitoring – in real-time, as users go about their everyday life – is potentially game changing. This investment by EPSRC in cost-effective precision health will bring benefits to patients, clinicians and society.”

In parallel to this national programme funding, Prof Jeremy J Baumberg has also been awarded an ERC Proof-of-concept grant. Worth €150 000, the grant will be used to explore the commercial and societal potential of new low-cost mid-infrared light detectors. This funding is part of the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe.