Our research

waves imageMembers of the Centre pursue a ‘systems approach’ to basic biomedical research and its translation. Our emphasis is on techniques from mathematical and statistical modelling, theoretical physics, machine learning and data science, and biophysical imaging and image analysis. Crucially, this is informed and co-created with a range of stakeholders, including biomedical researchers, clinical scientists, members of the public and industry partners.

We believe placing the research challenge at the core and bringing together expertise from complementary disciplines will be increasingly essential for driving fundamental research discoveries in the biomedical domain and enabling their translation into societal benefit. At present we focus on research challenges in neurology and neuroscience; cardiology and cardiovascular sciences; neuroendocrinology, reproduction and metabolism; as well as vertebrate development and genomics.

Seed funding for research and the Research Incubator

Our flagship research incubator is inspired by business equivalents (such as SetSquared’s internationally recognised ICURe programme) but repurposed for the specific needs of co-designing and co-creating research projects at the interface between quantitative disciplines and biomedical and clinical research. The incubator is a six-month focussed period of research where investigators from complementary disciplines, as well as other stakeholders from industry and the clinic, are paired with one or more of our Centre Fellows. Centre Fellows provide the critical expertise needed to take the project from concept to delivery and by the end of six months teams will have produced results suitable for both first publications and onward funding.

Projects are selected on merit by our steering group, as well as assessed for suitability by our Centre Fellows. Those teams invited to join the incubator will first attend a two-day retreat facilitated by Professor John Terry and supported by colleagues from our professional services teams. The retreat features dedicated sessions built around research planning, IP and impact, public involvement and engagement and research finance. Teams are awarded a budget of up to £10K to cover essential costs, as well as a proportion of time of at least one centre research fellow. The budget for spend is approved at the end of the retreat, enabling these pump priming projects to commence immediately thereafter. By the end of the incubator, teams will have preliminary results suitable for both publication and application for onward funding.

The incubator was first run at the University of Exeter in 2016. Since then 36 project teams have delivered 25 publications, 4 patent applications, and over £10M of onward funding secured.

Find out more about the seed corn projects

Our research themes 

Mathematical and computational modelling in biomedical & clinical systems

Staff: Professor Michael Biehl, Blake Cook, Dr Meurig GallagherDr Daniel Galvis, Professor Viktor Jirsa, Dr Leandro JungesDr Isabella Marinelli, Sophie Mason, Professor Manfred OpperDr Atif ShahzadDr Luke TaitProfessor John TerryDr Wessel WoldmanDr Eder Zavala

Members of the Centre develop and apply mathematical and computational models to a diversity of biomedical and clinical challenges. We use both networked dynamical systems, as well as continuum modelling approaches. We also develop techniques from machine learning and statistical modelling to enable parameter estimation and calibration directly from biomedical and clinical data sets. We apply these to a wide variety of research challenges including brain health, cardiac arrhythmias, clinical image analysis, diabetes, epilepsy, metabolism and sperm motility and mobility.

Neuroscience & neurology

Staff: Blake Cook, Dr Daniel Galvis, Professor Viktor Jirsa, Dr Leandro Junges, Sophie Mason, Dr Luke TaitProfessor John Terry, Dr Joana Viana, Dr Wessel Woldman

Members of the Centre are interested in a wide variety of challenges in neuroscience and neurology. This includes understanding the fundamental properties that make a brain healthy and understanding how these mechanisms breakdown and cause conditions such as dementia, epilepsy, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia. Collaborating with industry partners, including Neuronostics (co-founded by Professor John Terry and Dr Wessel Woldman) there is a strong emphasis on translating fundamental research into tools of practical benefits for people with neurological conditions.

Developed by Dr Luke Tait, +microstate is an open source toolbox for brain microstate analysis in electrophysiological (EEG/MEG) data. It works for sensor and source space, and includes tools for fitting brain states, statistical analysis and visualisation, and even simulations.

Endocrinology, metabolism & reproduction

Staff: Professor Michael Biehl, Dr Meurig Gallagher, Dr Isabella Marinelli, Professor John Terry, Dr Patricia Thomas, Dr Eder Zavala

Members of the Centre are interested in several areas of endocrinology, metabolism and reproduction. These include understanding the mechanisms governing the human stress response, the properties of sperm motion that facilitate pregnancy and live births, the mechanisms by which fats of different shapes and sizes cause cellular dysfunction and death, how networks of beta cells within pancreatic islets co-ordinate their activity and facilitate insulin secretion and a holistic approach to understanding how hormones, cells, tissues and organs work collectively as a network. There is a strong focus on translation in particular harnessing the predictive power of mathematical and computer models to revolutionise diagnosis and management of disease.

Medical sensors and wearable technology

Staff: Dr Atif Shahzad, Dr Meurig Gallagher, Professor John Terry, Dr Joana Viana, Dr Wessel Woldman, Dr Eder Zavala, Dr Alexander Zhigalov

Members are interested in the development and use of medical sensors and wearable devices in order to help monitor health and/or provide clinically relevant data for care. There is a strong focus on the areas of diagnostic and monitoring to deliver personalised patient care in chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Activities include need-led innovation to create new medical technologies with a strong focus on translation, application of mathematical models to create integrated digital health solutions, and research and development support for medical technology industry in the area of medical sensors and wearable devices.