Nick Cook, senior portfolio manager at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) tells us about their upcoming event and the importance of engineering and physical sciences to medical research.
How is EPSRC involved in medical research?
EPSRC is the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences. As an organisation we invest more than £800 million a year in a broad range of subjects - from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering. But when people think of medical research, they are more likely to think about the Medical Research Council that also sits under the Research Councils UK (RCUK) “umbrella”. However, it is recognised that advances in medical research cannot take place without the contribution of engineers, physical scientists and mathematicians, and this is where the EPSRC Healthcare Technologies theme comes in. Our basic research delivers new techniques and technologies, ultimately delivering solutions that underpin the healthcare and life sciences sector, including the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries and the NHS.
With the help of our community we have been developing our future strategy in this area which will be based round a matrix of grand challenges and cross-cutting research capabilities. We have identified four healthcare driven challenges:
- Using real-time information to support self-management of health and wellbeing, and facilitating timely interventions.
- Optimising treatment for individuals through early diagnosis, patient-specific prediction and evidence-based intervention.
- Enhancing precision and minimising the invasiveness of surgery, radiotherapy, and other physical interventions.
- Supporting the development of new therapies – from drug delivery technology to scalable manufacturing methods.
Why should the charity sector attend this town meeting?
EPSRC aren’t strangers to engaging with charities; we’re always interested in broadening our reach with medical research charities to better inform our funding opportunities. EPSRC already has strategic relationships with CRUK and the Wellcome Trust and has recently worked with Action for Hearing loss in conjunction with the MRC. We recognise that medical research charities are well placed to contribute knowledge of research needs including providing a patient and clinical perspective, and this helps shape our strategic direction and future funding opportunities. They also have a unique drive to translate research outcomes, and this is helpful in allowing us to understand the barriers. This is why we’d really like charity sector attendance at our Town meeting; As well as finding out about our new strategy, attendees will get an opportunity to hear about some of the activities we have planned for this year, and to contribute ideas as we develop our implementation plans for 2016 onwards.
Where can I find out more about the town meeting?
The town meeting will be taking place in London on 14 April 2015. We are encouraging attendance from a broad representation of our community including the charity sector, but space is limited at the event. If you wish to attend, please complete the short survey at the bottom of our web page by 2 March 2015. Expressions of interest will be reviewed by an internal EPSRC selection meeting to ensure a wide diversity of attendance. If you are selected to attend you will be sent an invitation by the end of March.