Boost for Bath Uni as it gains millions in research funding to lead in digital health and sustainability

March 15, 2024

The University of Bath’s status as a leading centre for cutting-edge research was boosted this week as it joined a new innovative digital health hub while also receiving around £25m to train a new generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

The digital health hub, made up of a consortium of universities from across the South West and Wales, aims to catalyse innovation, research and collaboration by forging partnerships between industry, academia, patients, carers and healthcare professionals. 

Funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), it will also elevate the region’s digital health capability through leadership, engagement, acceleration and partnership (LEAP) to tackle unmet health and care needs.

Meanwhile, the £25m training investment, also mainly from the EPSRC, will pay for two Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) led by the university in statistical applied mathematics and the sustainable chemical technologies.

Each centre will train between 80 and 100 PhD students over eight years, starting this October, to help solve some of the most important social, health and environmental challenges of our times.

LEAP represented “a significant milestone in advancing digital health capabilities” in the region, according to Prof Christos Vasilakis, of the University of Bath School of Management.

“By leveraging the collective expertise of academia and industry partners, we are really excited to be part of an effort with the potential to unlock new avenues for research, innovation, and partnership, ultimately enhancing the region's healthcare ecosystem,” he said.

Prof Vasilakis is director of the university’s Centre for Healthcare Innovation and Improvement (CHI²), which leads and explores multidisciplinary research into health and care systems, and ways to improve them.

CHI² member Prof David Ellis, who leads one of the university’s multidisciplinary research ‘beacons’ focusing on the cultural, economic and psychological value of new and emerging forms of data, added: “As one of five new digital health hubs across England, we are really excited to be a part of LEAP. 

“This will further cement and strengthen Bath’s expertise in the development of innovative digital technologies for healthcare.”

The LEAP partnership network also includes a number of NHS trusts & health boards, social care organisations and local authorities, as well as Health Innovation West of England and the award-winning, University of Bath-backed business incubator SETsquared.

Students at the statistical applied mathematics CDTs will explore topics that range from predicting the potential presence of sewage in waterways after storms to monitoring the progression of Multiple Sclerosis more effectively and overcoming the interference in mobile phone signals when users are moving through a crowded space.

Those in the sustainable chemical technologies CDT, part of the university’s world-class Institute for Sustainability will investigate areas including such as capturing carbon dioxide and converting it into useful products, reducing plastic pollution, reusing and recycling molecules, materials and products, and eliminating waste from industrial processes.

Statistical applied mathematics CDT co-director Dr Susie Douglas said: “Cutting-edge research blending data-driven approaches with rigorous mathematical methodologies has the potential to unlock vast benefits for society and industry. From personalised medicine to climate resilience, data and mathematics will be key to tackling fundamental societal challenges.”

Prof Matthew Davidson, who will lead the sustainable chemical technologies CDT, added: “Today's global chemicals industry is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 20% of oil and gas as carbon feedstock to make products.

“A more sustainable chemicals sector is, therefore, urgently required, but to achieve this presents major technical and societal challenges. New sustainable chemical technologies are needed.”


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