Swansea University leads £1.5m initiatives to develop expertise in nanomedicine
28 May 2012
Swansea University is leading two international initiatives to create
expertise and new technology in nanomedicine.
Celtic Alliance for NanoHealth
The University is the lead partner in the £1 million Celtic Alliance for NanoHealth (CAN),
announced in March this year, which will help companies in Wales and Ireland
stay at the forefront of innovation and growth in this fast
developing healthcare sector.
The Alliance is backed by £765,000 from the European Regional
Development Fund (ERDF) under the Ireland Wales Cross Border
(INTERREG 4A) programme.
Based at the University’s Centre for NanoHealth — also backed
with EU funding — the partnership will pool resources with three
- University College Dublin’s Centre for BioNano Interactions;
- Trinity College Dublin’s Institute of Molecular Medicines
and Centre for Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN);
- Dublin City University’s Biomedical Diagnostics
Institute and Nanobiophotonics and Imaging Centre – each
boasting specific areas of expertise in nanohealth.
Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies, said: “Nanohealth
has the potential to deliver major advances in healthcare, and in
doing so drive innovation and deliver sustainable economic and
social development. I welcome this EU-funded initiative which will
help forge a strong alliance between academia, healthcare providers
and business to deliver healthcare solutions.”
The alliance will enable small to medium sized companies
interested in developing nanohealth technology to access world
leading resources as well as the opportunity to link-up with
This includes two showcase business events planned in September
2012 and 2013 in Swansea and Dublin, in collaboration with the
Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice
University in Houston, Texas, aimed at providing opportunities for
companies to link up with investors tailored to the nanohealth
The alliance is also in discussions with the US
government, exploring opportunities for Welsh companies in America.
Through CAN it is expected that new and faster ways of screening
for diseases using nanotechnologies will be developed. These will
provide advances in patient care and safety and enhance the speed at
which novel developments can be translated for patient benefit.
For example, Nano-devices and Nano-biosensors allow the detection
and measurement of biomarkers in fluid or tissue samples at a level
of sensitivity far beyond current methods, aiding the early
detection and treatment of a wide range of diseases including cancer
and heart disease.
Dr Steve Conlan, Director of the Centre for NanoHealth at Swansea
University said: “Establishing a coordinated cross-border cluster
will create a world-class alliance of key opinion leaders,
internationally distinguished researchers and state-of-the-art
infrastructure. This alliance will have the scope, capacity, and
flexibility to lead nanohealth internationally from scientific,
technological, and economic innovation perspectives.
“NanoHealth is an emergent business area that will undergo rapid
growth to deliver future healthcare, and CAN will directly impact on
economic prosperity through the transfer of innovations from the
partner higher education institutions to industry, in particular
SMEs. The alliance will realise cross-border innovation in research
and development, training and commercialisation programmes through
this unique partnership.
“NanoHealth is an emergent business area that will undergo rapid
growth to deliver future healthcare CAN will work closely with Welsh
and Irish businesses to explore and exploit opportunities presented
by the effective development and management of the nanohealth
platform, and will work to disseminate these advances to the
European academic and industry base.”
As well as providing scientific expertise, the alliance plans to
help companies gain financial backing for their developments.
Global hub for nanomedicine
Swansea University’s Centre for NanoHealth (CNH) and Human Computer
Interactions research group has been awarded a £5000,000 grant from
the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to
create the ‘Global Hub in Medical Technologies and NanoHealth at
The Hub will facilitate a series of staff exchanges over a 12-month
period to build on current and new research initiatives with
Swansea’s international research partners.
Professor Steve Wilks, Head of the College of Science at Swansea
University said: “Much international collaboration has been forged
through CNH’s activity, particularly with leading international
institutions in Medical Technologies and NanoHealth. For example,
Swansea has a long standing relationship with institutions in the
United States including Texas A&M University, the University of
Pennsylvania, Rice University and The Methodist Hospital Research
Institute in Houston.
“Developments have included point-of-care technologies in the
detection and analysis of abnormal blood clotting; toxicological
impact of natural and engineered nanoparticles; and smart systems to
The EPSRC grant, awarded specifically to internationally mobilise
staff expertise, means that factors which often stifle and frustrate
academic activity and advances will be eliminated. Through the Hub,
Swansea researchers will have the freedom to take their knowledge
and creative solutions about vital health issues to countries
including China, France and the US.
The Global Hub will rapidly internationalise areas of strength in
Swansea University’s existing EPSRC-funded portfolio of activities
in four key areas: technology development, safety assessment,
therapeutics, and human factors engineering.
“This opportunity will enable our researchers to improve an
individual’s quality of life through targeted drug delivery, make
possible the ability for patients to manage their own drug delivery
within the comfort of their own homes and reduce human error through
improved user interfaces with devices that deliver drugs,” said
“The new Global Hub is vital in enhancing our existing
collaborations and developing new joint ventures through the
mobilisation of staff to those countries where we have key partners
“The award will add value through working across disciplines in
the arts, humanities and social sciences. This broad approach will
deliver further potential for the social and cultural aspects to
influence and shape nanohealth developments.
“Our current EPSRC-funded Bridging the Gaps portfolio has funded
more than 50 interdisciplinary, innovative research projects such as
novel applications to address blood clotting, redesigning
conventional computer systems to support healthcare and public
engagement of science.
“In particular the funding will give staff at an early stage in
their research careers the opportunity to become international
career researchers and enable established researchers to flourish in
their international commitments; in short the project aims to ensure
Swansea University’s European Centre for Nanohealth is, and is seen
to be, the Global Hub in Medical Technologies and Nanohealth.”
Swansea University’s Centre for NanoHealth (CNH) is a unique
interdisciplinary research centre based on the application of
Nanotechnology and leading innovations in Healthcare.
This joint initiative between the University’s Institute of Life
Science in the College of Medicine, the Multidisciplinary
Nanotechnology Centre in the College of Engineering, and the
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University NHS Trust, offers exciting
opportunities to work at the interface between Engineering
Biomedical Science and clinical delivery.
The CNH is located within a Clinical and Biomedical
research environment on Swansea’s Singleton hospital site, giving
access to patients and creating a pioneering, integrated facility in
which novel devices and sensors can be designed, manufactured,
functionalised, tested and evaluated.
The Celtic Alliance for NanoHealth (CAN) has its
own website at:
The Irish government's Forfás' Report of the Research Prioritisation Steering
Group, published on 01 March 2012, identified medical devices,
diagnostics and therapeutics as three of its fourteen priority
research and investment areas. The Forfás report identified
opportunities for commercialisation in emerging growth areas such as
personalised medicine/companion diagnostics, nutrition related
diagnostics, veterinary diagnostics and point-of-care devices.
The report is availale at:
University College Dublin’s Centre for BioNano
Interactions (CBNI) is part of the UCD Centre for
NanoMedicine, and is a multi-disciplinary platform for NanoSafety
and NanoMedicine, focussing on in-depth mechanistic understanding of
how nanomaterials interact with living systems and the role of the
bio-nano interface in this. CBNI is located in a purpose-build
state-of-the-art facility funded via the Programme for Research at
Third Level Institutes cycle 4, and in the UCD Conway Institute.
CBNI coordinates the EU FP7 research infrastructure for nanosafety
assessment, as well as multiple other European and international
projects on topics of nanomedicine and nanoregulation, an area that
is gaining increasing importance at present since regulations around
nano for consumer products and medicines are currently being
For more information visit:
Trinity College Dublin’s Institute of Molecular Medicine
(IMM) is the leading research institute in Ireland in the
areas of Inflammation, Cancer, Infectious diseases and Nanomedicine
strategically positioned on the grounds of the teaching University
Hospital, ensuring an efficient translation of research output into
academic and clinical practice.
IMM coordinates several large scale EU FP7 research projects
focused on Clinical disease, Nanomedicine, Nanodiagnostic and
Pharmaceutical research. IMM is one of the partners of the Molecular
Medicine Ireland initiative focused on Translational research into
biomedical sciences, a partner of the European Technology Platform
For more information see:
The Centre for Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices
(CRANN) is the national centre of excellence for
nanoscience established in 2003 by a joint partnership between two
universities (Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork).
CRANN main research areas are focused on Advanced materials, Spin
electronics and sensors, Integrated nanoscale devices, BioNanoAssay
CRANN has into an internationally competitive research institute
with 18 PIs, 20 Investigators, 150 researchers and technical staff
based across multiple disciplines including Physics, Chemistry,
Medicine, Engineering and Pharmacology. CRANN has established
collaborative relationship with more the 70 industrial partners, and
has an established network of >100 European universities.
In partnership with these universities and industrial partners,
CRANN is to harness the cross disciplinary nanoscience research of
individual PIs and staff to deliver world leading research outputs
and to enable CRANN researchers to address key industry challenges.
For more information see:
Dublin City University’s Biomedical Diagnostics Institute
(BDI) is a Science Foundation Ireland CSET (Centre for
Science, Engineering and Technology). Established in October 2005,
the BDI is an Academic-Industrial-Clinical partnership that carries
out cutting-edge research programmes focussed on the development of
next-generation biomedical diagnostic devices. The BDI vision is to
transform healthcare by pioneering advances in the science and
technology of diagnostics and by translating these advances into
For more information see: www.bdi.ie
The National Biophotonics and Imaging Platform Ireland (NBIP) was
established in 2007 under HEA PRTLI Cycle 4. The platform consists
of a consortium of imaging and biophotonics laboratories from across
the Universities and Institutes of Technology in Ireland. NBIPI
provides an integrated national access and training infrastructure
in research, education, technology development and industry
collaboration for the State’s investment in Biophotonics and
Imaging. The DCU element of the NBIP is made of three key clusters:
Nanobiophotonics, Nanotechnology and Molecular Spectroscopy, as well
as Image Processing & Analysis: Computer Vision.
For more information see: