Bioengineering within the ERPE is a highly interdisciplinary research area that forges connections between Engineering, Physical Sciences, Biology and Medicine.

Research Aims

Our aim is to research and develop innovative diagnostic, therapeutic and real-time monitoring biomedical devices and technologies.

Research Challenges

The main research initiatives in Bioengineering can be split into three key areas:

  • Assistive technologies for stem cell medicine
  • Medical diagnostics and biosensing
  • Synthetic biology and industrial biotechnology

Within assistive technologies for stem cell medicine, research focuses on engineering approaches to assist in the provision of stem cells (SCs) for regenerative medicine and cell therapy. Examples of this area include 3D stem cell printing technologies for organ regeneration and tackling the challenges of ex vivo expansion of artificial blood from human stem cells.

Research Impacts

Our internationally leading research on medical diagnostics & biosensing has resulted in a rich vein of technology development in both medical diagnosis and environmental biosensing. Notable achievements include the first ex vivo and in vivo probing of the mechanical characteristics of prostate cancer for monitoring disease progression, a project funded by EPSRC in collaboration with clinicians from Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. High-resolution, dynamic ultrasonic imaging of invasive liver tumours has been achieved using micro-bubble perfusion. Novel medical biosensors and lab-on-a-chip devices are being developed in the isolation and detection of rare foetal/tumour cells in blood and cancer biomarkers. We have produced environmental biosensors for ultrasensitive detection of water-borne pathogens such as cryptosporidium at 1spore/ml.

We are also actively pursing the emerging area of Synthetic Biology and Industrial Biotechnology. This, for example, includes a Scottish Enterprise funded project on developing automated microfluidic handling system for genome segment assembly in collaboration with a leading synthetic biology company-GinkoBioworks in Boston.

Research Partners

We have extensive and close collaboration with leading universities and research institutes including Stanford University, Edinburgh University, Tsinghua University, Moredun Research Institute; and industrial partners including Roslin Cellab, Roslin Cells, Scottish Water, Keymed, Olympus, GE Healthcare, Scanbio, Renishaw plc, GinkoBioworks, Aquapharm, Bryoactives, microdish, cyano-biotech, Accufluidics and etc.

The following University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University Academics are leading ERPE Bionegineering Research:

  • Anthony Callanan (UoE)
  • Andrew Downes (UoE)
  • Alister Elfick (UoE)
  • Pankaj Pankaj (UoE)
  • Ronald Pethig (UoE)
  • Marc Desmulliez (HW)
  • Maiwenn Kersaudy Kerhaos (HW)
  • Gerrard Markx (HW)
  • Robert Reuben (HW)
  • Vassilis Sboros (HW)
  • Will Shu (HW)
  • Nicholas Willoughby (HW)