Research areas

Research projects conducted by students in the centre contribute to advancements in the three main themes of cardiovascular disease, ageing, and trauma by drawing on a wide range of scientific approaches. A selection of the areas in which we conduct research are detailed on this page.

Listed below are examples of some of our internationally leading research in technical areas and the important problems in biosciences and medicine to which we contribute. 



Research in biomaterials is furthering our understanding of the interactions between materials and biological systems at the molecular level. We are developing bone and cartilage replacements to advance trauma medicine and treat age related degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis, and developing smart wound dressings that both encourage and monitor healing. Examples include:

  • Investigating the causes of and a cure for pathological bone formation following explosion and using materials to create models of this condition.
  • Using additive layer manufacturing to create bespoke prosthetics and working with industry to add a silver coating process that will minimise infection
  • Creating a better understanding of aberrant bone formation and generating new approaches to preventing fracture non-union
  • Developing soft materials to deliver biopharmaceutics to the surface of the eye to prevent corneal scarring
  • Formulating solid dressings that can be used to deliver anti scarring molecules to the skin surface 

 Mini-projects and PhDs in this area have included:

Development of new molecular markers and probes

Research in this area includes development of fluorescent, MRI and multi-technique molecular probes for the recognition of specific markers of disease to guide therapeutic treatment regimes, imaging blood flow, and tracking cells.

Examples of research in this area include:

  • Development of fluorescent molecular probes for the detection of unusual DNA structures and for following pathways and localisations of drugs in cells
  • New molecular probes based on lanthanide fluorescent markers with narrow emission peaks, long decay times, small mass and high stability against photo-bleaching
  • Lanthanide molecular MRI active markers, for imaging specific tumours and macrophages and for tracing the movement and localisation of proteins in cells and tissues
  • Micro-MRI contrast agents utilising oscillations between oxidative states in transition metal ion complexes for probing the chemistry of biosystems

Mini-projects and PhDs in this area have included:


Research in microscopy is focused on advancing high-resolution imaging via the development of new physical and computational methods for microscopy and data analysis, and new probes and techniques.

  • Developing techniques for direct optical interrogation of DNA: DNA barcodes
  • Developing and optimising computational techniques for analysis of super-resolution imaging data
  • Advancing methods including expansion and light sheet microscopy for high-resolution imaging at depth in samples

Mini-projects and PhDs in this area have included:

Frontiers in optical imaging

We are developing systems to advance optical imaging for pre-clinical and diagnostic purposes. Research in this area is focused on physical system development and advanced computational analysis. Specific areas include:

  • Development of pre-clinical molecular (bioluminescence and fluorescence) tomography.
  • Development of diagnostic optical tomography system to improve diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Computational modelling for the quantitative characterisation of pathological tissues from multispectral data
  • Optical mapping techniques for high spatiotemporal resolution electrophysiology imaging of the heart

Mini-projects and PhDs in this area have included:

Image and data analysis

 Our work in image and data analysis is allowing us to extract the maximal amount of information from various experimental data. These state of the art techniques are providing new insights and more subtle results than is possible with standard methods; in a ‘virtuous circle’ challenging biosciences problems will stimulate the development of further novel analytical techniques. Some of the areas in which we have expertise are:

  • Novel techniques for pattern recognition, sequence prediction, high-dimensional data visualisation, classification, data mining and modelling, applicable to the analysis of complex and large image-derived data sets (e.g. evolutionary algorithms for gene expression microarray data analysis, Support Vector Machines for gene selection, evolutionary optimisation for derivation of non-linear, histology basis functions in multispectral image data)
  • New algorithms for non-linear and adaptive optimisation (e.g. stochastic ranking algorithms for estimation of kinetic parameters in biochemical pathways and networks, design of imaging sensors, optimisation of imaging processes, inverse solutions to radiative transport equations)
  • Developing computational methods to extract information from complex biological and chemical data, especially from advanced microscopy and mass spectrometry imaging techniques. Using a range of tools from image processing and machine learning, novel analysis techniques that extract structures and patterns from the data to provide new insights into the underlying biology and chemistry are being developed.

Mini-projects and PhDs in this area have included:

Mass spectrometry imaging

With capabilities in SIMS and MALDI Mass Spectrometry (MS) imaging, a particular focus is in the improvement and development of matrix assisted laser desorption ionisation (MALDI) as a MS imaging tool for small molecules, enabling imaging of drugs and metabolites in preclinical applications.

Mini-projects and PhDs in this area have included:


The Birmingham University Imaging Centre (BUIC) focuses on the use of MRI and related techniques to investigate the brain. MRI is also used to study childhood brain tumours in a clinical setting at Birmingham Children's Hospital where new protocols for SENSE encoded MRI and diffusion weighted MRI are being developed.

PhD projects in this area have included:

Motion and dynamics

We conduct research using microfluidics for measurement and analysis of haemodynamics, white cell adhesion and thrombus formation in fabricated vessels and valves, in order to better understand mechanisms of deep vein thromobus formation.

PhD projects in this area have included:

Multispectral imaging

Non-invasive multispectral imaging is being developed and combined with other techniques to map eye histology and degeneration and blood flow in limbs.

PhD projects in this area have included: