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

Members of the Centre develop and apply mathematical and computational techniques to a diversity of biomedical and clinical challenges. We use networked dynamical systems, mechanistic modelling, as well as continuum modelling approaches to generate and test hypotheses about physio- pathological scenarios. We also implement machine learning techniques and statistical modelling to identify computational biomarkers of disease, parameter estimation and model calibration directly from biomedical and clinical data sets. We apply these methods to a wide variety of research challenges including brain health, hormone dynamics, clinical image analysis, diabetes, epilepsy, metabolism, ophthalmology, cancer, heart arrhythmias, and infertility (including male factors). 

Theme Lead: Dr Eder Zavala

Members: Professor Michael BiehlDr Yingjing Feng, Dr Aravind Kumar Kamaraj, Dr Meurig GallagherDr Daniel Galvis, Professor Viktor JirsaDr Leandro JungesDr Isabella Marinelli, Sophie MasonProfessor Manfred Opper, Dr Paul Roberts,  Dr Atif ShahzadDr Luke TaitProfessor John TerryDr Wessel Woldman, Dr Alexander Zhigalov, Gwen Harrington.

Neuroscience & neurology

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 how these mechanisms breakdown and cause conditions such as dementia, epilepsy, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia. Collaborating with potential end users and industry partners (e.g. Neuronostics, co-founded by Professor John Terry and Dr Wessel Woldman), there is a strong emphasis on translating research into tools of practical benefits for people with neurological conditions.  

Theme Lead: Dr Leandro Junges  

Members: Dr Yingjing Feng, Dr Daniel Galvis, Gwen Harrington, Professor Viktor Jirsa, Dr Aravind Kumar Kamaraj, Sophie Mason, Dr Isabella Marinelli, Professor Manfred Opper, Dr Paul Roberts, Dr Luke Tait, Professor John Terry, Dr Wessel Woldman, Dr Alexander Zhigalov.

Endocrinology, metabolism & reproduction

Members of the Centre are interested in applying systems level approaches to understand how hormones, cells, tissues, and organs work collectively as a network. We combine experimental, theoretical, and computational techniques to holistically investigate problems in endocrinology, metabolism, and reproduction. Our key interests include understanding the mechanisms which given the human stress response, cell dysfunction and death in Type 2 diabetes, the role of sperm in pregnancy and live birth, and how pancreatic islets of beta cells regulate and secrete insulin. We have a strong focus on translation, particularly harnessing the predictive power of mathematics, computational, and experimental models to revolutionise the diagnosis and management of disease. 

Theme Lead: Dr Meurig Gallagher 

Members: Professor Michael Biehl, Dr Daniel Galvis, Dr Isabella Marinelli, Professor John Terry, Dr Patricia Thomas, Dr David Tourigny, Dr Eder ZavalaDr Eder Zavala.

Medical sensors and wearable technology

Members are interested in the development and use of novel medical technologies and 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 neurological and endocrine disorders, 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 devices and intelligent systems.   

Theme Lead: Dr Atif Shahzad

Members: Dr Meurig Gallagher, Professor John Terry, Dr Joana Viana, Dr Wessel Woldman, Dr Eder ZavalaDr Alexander Zhigalov.