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UC researching medical devices to reduce health costs

University of Canterbury researching medical devices to reduce health costs

May 11, 2014

A leading University of Canterbury researcher has received funding to unearth new medical devices and systems that can be used at hospital intensive care bedsides and exported to the world.

The Tertiary Education Commission has announced millions of dollars of Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs) funding. The CoREs fund - established in 2001 to encourage the development of excellent tertiary education-based research - provides operating expenditure of just under $210 million over six years, with funding beginning next year and continuing until 2020. University of Canterbury researchers are involved in all six new CoREs.

Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase, one of 39 University of Canterbury researchers to receive CoRE funding, is collaborating with Professor Peter Hunter at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute on a project. Together the two leaders of New Zealand bio-engineering are covering from modeling to clinical application, as well as leading a range of international consortia.

The new CoRE in medical device technologies is an exciting development. Professor Chase is Deputy Director and the University of Canterbury has 15 named researchers in this area.

"We want to place New Zealand at the forefront worldwide in the application of bioengineering technologies to healthcare by producing new knowledge of physiological processes in health and disease.

"We will develop novel bio-instrumentation and computational physiological models. By designing innovative medical devices and technologies we will improve healthcare and create economic opportunities for New Zealand companies.

"Aging populations and increasing chronic disease are driving healthcare costs to levels worldwide at which access and quality of care are not financially sustainable. Bioengineering research and technologies are having a major beneficial impact on healthcare worldwide, with biomedical engineering now the fastest growing engineering discipline internationally.

"In New Zealand it underpins a medical device industry sector which is now a significant foreign exchange earner. The goal of the sector is to grow to $1billion in exports by 2015.

"Biomedical engineering research in New Zealand is highly regarded globally, but there is an urgent requirement to bring together academic, clinical, and industry partners to create a national platform that identifies clinical needs, provides expert scientific research, and delivers solutions that are of economic and societal benefit," Professor Chase says.

The University of Canterbury’s major partnerships are as part of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology in which Professor Alison Downard is Deputy Director and one of 12 named researchers at the university.

Canterbury will continue to make significant contributions to the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Biodiscovery led by principal investigator Professor Emily Parker. Both Professors Tim David and John Dalrymple-Alford are principal investigators in the new Brain Research CoRE.

Canterbury’s Dr Alex James is Deputy Director of the new Centre for Complex Systems and Networks and Dr Jon-Paul Wells is a principal investigator in the Dodd-Walls Photonic and Quantum Technology CoRE.

ENDS

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