Programme

Programme Day 1

 

 

 

(To see the programme in a glance and in a printer-friendly format please click here)

DAY 1: Solving Health Matters Together – 1st of APRIL 2019

James Watt Centre, Heriot-Watt University

8:30 am – Registration and Coffee

9:00 am – Welcome Addresses

Prof Richard Williams, Principal, Heriot-Watt University

Prof Fiona Denison, Chair of Obstetrics, University of Edinburgh

Prof Vicki Stone, Conference Chair and Head of Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering, Heriot-Watt University

9:20 am – Keynote Speaker

Prof Constantin Coussios

Oxford University

Turning ideas into technologies: from organ preservation to drug delivery
Abstract

Academic entrepreneurship is faced with several hurdles in translating research into technologies. Starting with a foundation of sound academic research in the fields of organ preservation and drug delivery, the human, financial, commercial, regulatory and clinical challenges encountered on the journey to end-user adoption will be illustrated and discussed.

Biography

Constantin Coussios is the Professor of Biomedical Engineering (Drug Delivery) and heads the Biomedical Ultrasonics, Biotherapy & Biopharmaceuticals Laboratory (BUBBL) in the Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering . He is also the Director of the Oxford Centre for Drug Delivery Devices (OxCD3), supported by an EPSRC Programme grant. He holds a B.A., M.Eng., M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. During his time as an undergraduate and graduate student, Prof. Coussios was the recipient of the Shell European Project Prize (1997), the Greek State Graduate Scholarship (1999-2001), the Acoustical Society of America best student paper award (2001) and the Hamilton Prize (2001). He then had the opportunity to work as a post-doctoral researcher under some of the world’s leading experts in acoustic cavitation, including Prof. C.K. Holland at the University of Cincinnati (Ohio, USA, 2001-02), on developing a novel ultrasound-enhanced thrombolysis system for stroke therapy, and Prof. R.A. Roy and Prof. R.G. Holt at Boston University (Mass, USA, 2002-03). He was awarded the 2002-2003 F.V. Hunt Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Acoustics by the Acoustical Society of America, given annually to a single researcher worldwide, which he devoted to investigating new means of cavitation detection in tissue and tissue-mimicking media during cancer treatment by High-Intensity Focussed Ultrasound. Prof. Coussios serves on the Acoustical Society’s Technical Committee on Biomedical Ultrasound and was elected to the Board of the International Society in Therapeutic Ultrasound in December 2006. In 2007, he was awarded the Institute of Acoustics Young Investigator Award for Innovation in Acoustical Engineering, and was selected as one of seven nationwide recipients of an EPSRC Challenging Engineering Award. In 2009, he was elected as the youngest Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and, in 2012, the Society recognized his contributions to ‘biomedical ultrasonics’ with the R. Bruce Lindsay Award. He is also the recipient of the 2012 Frederic Lizzi award from the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound. Translational Activities OrganOx Ltd: In 2008, Prof. Coussios co-founded OrganOx Ltd with Professor Peter Friend, Chair of Transplantation at the University of Oxford, to develop a novel normothermic device for liver preservation and repair prior to transplantation. The company recently completed its Phase I clinical trial and is proceeding to randomised multi-centre Phase II/III trials in Europe and North America. OxSonics Ltd: In 2014, Prof. Coussios was the lead academic founder, with Professor Bob Carlisle and Dr Christian Coviello at the University of Oxford, of OxSonics Ltd, a company developing a new generation of ultrasound-based medical devices for bubble-enhanced (cavitational) drug delivery and minimally invasive surgery. The company is built on over 10 years of pre-clinical research and a portfolio of 10 patents from within BUBBL.

9:50 am – Session 1: Future Cancer Healthcare

Chair: Dr Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas, Heriot-Watt University
Prof Nick Leslie

Heriot-Watt University

How can we improve cancer treatment? HWU advances
Abstract
In the last 50 years the understanding of cancer has moved on dramatically, but our ability to successfully treat the disease has improved only slowly. We now know which mutations turn our normal healthy cells into potentially lethal cells and we know a good deal about how this happens. However, there are stark truths; every patient’s cancer is unique, each cancer contains individual clones of cancer cells with different behaviour and sensitivity to drugs and by the time a cancer is diagnosed, it has often spread and become aggressive and drug-resistant. Professor Leslie will discuss how new technologies developed at Heriot-Watt would allow us to better understand cancer and detect and treat cancers earlier and more individually.
Biography
NRL studied Genetics at Cambridge and Glasgow Universities before research work at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research and the University of Dundee, addressing cellular control mechanisms which are disturbed in many cancers. In 2013, Nick moved his laboratory to Heriot Watt University, where his work continues to develop our understanding of tumour biology and how we can use this better understanding to help us treat cancer. Many of the projects underway in his lab now involve collaborations with engineers and physicists to develop the application of new technologies to cancer research.
Alasdair Ferguson

Membership Secretary, Edinburgh and Lothian Prostate Cancer Support Group

Reflections on a prostate cancer journey 
Abstract
Alasdair will also contrast his experiences with those of his father who had a prostate cancer diagnosis forty years ago, and will speak about attitudes to cancer, ever-changing treatments, relationships with NHS professionals, and the role of NHS staff, support groups and cancer charities
Biography
Alasdair was born in Kilmarnock in 1951 and moved to Edinburgh in 1973. He spent most of his working life in education as a careers adviser, but was also involved in training and skills development. Like his father he was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 61, but contrary to the situation with his father, in Alasdair’s case the treatment was successful. In retirement, he is a keen traveller particularly in South East Asia and volunteers with Macmillan and Oxfam in Edinburgh. He is currently Membership Secretary of the Edinburgh and Lothian Prostate Cancer Support Group.
Dr Alexis Webb

Cancer Research UK 

Detecting Cancer Earlier Requires a Multi-faceted Approach
Abstract
One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. To ensure kinder, more effective treatments and improve survival outcomes, the future of cancer healthcare must prioritise earlier detection and diagnosis of the disease. Cancer Research UK is working to drive progress in this area. As early detection of cancer is a nascent research field, Cancer Research UK has launched several initiatives to stimulate and help draw in a diverse range of researchers by promoting multidisciplinary, international and industry collaborations.
Biography
Dr Alexis Webb is the Senior Research Funding Manager in Early Detection at Cancer Research UK. She looks after Programme and Project Award funding in early detection, as well as running several strategic funding initiatives, such as collaborative innovation funding workshops with engineers and physical scientists, and the call for UK centres of a new International Cancer Early Detection Alliance. Alexis has a PhD in neuroscience from Washington University in St Louis and, after finishing her postdoctoral research in Germany and the UK, joined Cancer Research UK in 2016. Alexis is passionate about building a multidisciplinary community of researchers who are interested in applying their skills to advance earlier detection of cancer and improve outcomes for patients. She is also an advocate for improving diversity in the STEM fields and supporting early career researchers.  
Prof Alan McNeill

University of Edinburgh

Tools for better prostate cancer diagnosis
Abstract
Innovation and research in healthcare should seek to address problems that affect the diagnosis or management faced daily by clinical staff. To do so effectively will almost always require a multidisciplinary partnership between clinical staff and scientists who have the expertise to develop novel technologies or apply existing ones to the problem they are presented with. The rising incidence of prostate cancer and the increasing costs faced by healthcare providers in diagnosis and management of this common cancer, together with the fact that many men may have an indolent form of prostate cancer that will never require treatment, presents a need for more cost-effective modalities of investigation that can be applied in primary rather than secondary care settings. We have developed a methodology and device for dynamic instrumented palpation of human tissue such as the prostate that we believe meets an unmet clinical need and illustrates how engineers and clinicians can together develop solutions to common problems. We plan to commercialise the results of our research with a spin-out company in 2019.
Biography
As a result of collaborative research over the past 20 years, Alan McNeill holds Honorary Professor titles at Edinburgh & Heriot Watt Universities. As a practising NHS Urological Surgeon in Edinburgh with an interest in prostate cancer, and as a Founding Trustee of Scotland’s prostate charity Prostate Scotland, Alan has a long-held interest in the diagnosis and management of prostate diseases that resulted in the collaborative research with Professor Bob Reuben from Heriot Watt University.

11:05 am – Coffee break

11:25 am – Session 2: Healthy Ageing

Chair: Dr Uwe Wolfram, Heriot Watt University
Dr Uwe Wolfram

Heriot Watt University

In silico medicine: Blurring the boundary between engineering and medicine in bone diseases
Abstract

Bone associated diseases such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, or bone metastases constitute significant personal, social, and economic burden affecting millions of patients in ageing societies world-wide. While pharmacological osteoporosis treatments are available they are insufficient in a significant number of patients, and no effective pharmacological treatment is available for osteoarthritis or bone metastases, so that implants are often the only option. Tailoring treatment solutions based on personalised computational models and fabricating personalised implants, manufactured on demand, could help to lower the socio-economic burden. Moving this a step further into an appropriate technological framework could result in technology that facilitates remote monitoring, individual treatment planning, and even empower patients to guide treatment.

Biography

Uwe Wolfram is Assistant Professor at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh (UK) since 2015. His research focusses on the multiscale mechanical behaviour of musculoskeletal tissue. Between 2011 and 2015 he was a postdoctoral researcher and laboratory manager at the Institute of Surgical Technology and Biomechanics in Bern (CH). In 2011, he earned his PhD at the Institute of Orthopaedic Research and Biomechanics in Ulm (GER) on the multiscale mechanical behaviour of vertebral trabecular bone. Dr. Wolfram finished his studies in Mechanical Engineering at MSc level in 2005 at Chemnitz University of Technology (GER).

Moira Mackenzie

Digital Health & Care Institute

Riding the Lightning
Abstract

The Digital Health & Care Institute is one of Scotland’s 8 innovation centres and operates at the intersection between industry, academia, and health & care providers. Our mission is to turn ‘great ideas into real solutions’. Moira Mackenzie, Director of Innovation at DHI shares insights from DHI’s journey so far, identifying what we have learnt from other countries and how we are combining these insights with our own ‘home grown’ experiences to develop scalable, digitally powered solutions to support healthy ageing.

Biography

Moira Mackenzie joined DHI in April 2018 as Director of Innovation/Deputy Chief Executive. She is responsible for DHI’s strategic, organisational and business development, and leads the overall delivery of the DHI Challenges. Previously, Moira was the Head of Development and part of the senior management team for the Scottish Centre for Telehealth & Telecare in NHS 24, where she led large scale innovation programmes to expand the use of video-enabled care, computerised CBT, telecare and home & mobile health monitoring services to thousands of Scotland’s citizens. Moira has actively promoted the use and expansion of technology-enabled care, digital and support services over many years, and successfully led the implementation of the Scottish Government’s National Telecare Programme from 2007 – 2012, winner of the Permanent Secretary’s Award in 2008.

Dr Ryan Woolrych

Heriot Watt University

Smart Cities, Age Friendly Communities and Healthy Ageing
Abstract

The ageing-in-place agenda suggests the preferred environment to age is at home and in the community. However, this is largely dependent on the having the assets and supports necessary for healthy and active ageing. Technology has a specific role to play, not only in terms of health and lifestyle monitoring, but in providing the supports for accessing services, social participation, and civic engagement which are key aspects of healthy ageing. Smart Cities are defined as urban areas that utilise different types of technology and data to improve efficiency, sustainability and citizen welfare. Whilst the Smart City movement has gained global attention, we have often not considered the role of older adults in the design and delivery of these smart environments. This talk explores some of the opportunities and challenges to the delivery of age-friendly communities and cities drawing on issues of community participation, mobility and social inclusion. Addressing these issues is important if we are to ensure older adults can remain active and independent, whilst utilising technology to support the right to age-in-place.

Biography

Ryan is Associate Professor in Health and Well-being at The Urban Institute (TUI) at Heriot-Watt University. Prior to this, I worked at the Gerontology Research Centre, Vancouver, Canada exploring issues of social justice, housing and ageing-in-place. In my research career, I have evaluated urban regeneration programmes in the North-West of England exploring their impact on social and community well-being. I have undertaken research with marginalised and excluded groups including the homeless and socially isolated older adults.

Dr Mel McKendrick

Heriot Watt University

Eye tracking and complimentary technologies to help to increase quality of life for older people 
Abstract

Eye tracking has been used diagnostically to measure cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients, identify abnormal oculomotor responses in Parkinson’s Disease and in detection of delirium but can we use it in a way that resonates directly with older adults? Can we improve social interactions in dementia or use it to help older patients with recovery after operations? I will discuss my work with eye tracking in non-verbal behaviours and how this might be extended to older adults and the important role of eye tracking with complimentary technologies in training clinicians to safely administer regional anaesthesia, with significant benefits for healthy ageing.

Biography

Having completed an MA (Hons) Psychology (1st class) at the University of Glasgow in 2006, I worked as a Research Assistant in Higher Education research before joining the University of Strathclyde in 2007 where I completed an MRes and PhD under the supervision of Dr Stephen Butler and Professor Madeleine Grealy. Whilst completing my PhD I worked as a Research Assistant (2011-12) on a range of commercial eye tracking projects before beginning my post docs as a Research Associate (2012-13) and Research Fellow (2013-14) on the EC FP7 funded project ‘Human Factors in Risk-Based Ship Design Methodology’ which involved the design, implementation and analysis of eye-tracking and virtual reality experiments in a maritime context. I coordinated the University of Glasgow Psychology Access course from 2008-2010 and designed and delivered the entire Psychology curriculum for the International Study centre, based at The University of Strathclyde in 2014. I joined Heriot-Watt University in 2014 as an Assistant Professor.

Dr Susan Shenkin

University of Edinburgh

‘Healthy (and not so healthy) ageing: opportunities and challenges’?
Abstract

The population is ageing, and the vast majority of people live independently at home in relatively good health for the majority of their life. However, most illnesses become more common with age, and many older people live with one, or many, long term health care conditions and the associated impact on their physical and mental health. A hospital doctor who specialises in older people will discuss the opportunities and challenges for supporting people a) who are ageing healthily, and b) making diagnoses, and supporting people with common conditions like impaired vision and hearing, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, lung disease, stroke, depression, arthritis, cognitive decline, and dementia.

Biography

I graduated from Edinburgh University (MBChB) in 1994, having done an intercalated BSc (Hons) in Psychology. After a general medical rotation in Oxford, and a neurology SHO job in London, I returned to Edinburgh having decided on a career in Geriatric Medicine. I became an SpR in South East Scotland in 1999, and under the mentorship of Prof John Starr (geriatric medicine) and Prof Ian Deary (psychology) was awarded an MRC Training Fellowship investigating lifecourse influences on coCognitive ability and cerebrovascular disease in older age. During this fellowship I studied for an MSc in Epidemiology, graduating in 2002 and was awarded my MD in 2006.
I completed my training in General and Geriatric Medicine as a clinical lecturer (and honorary SpR) in August 2010. Much of my training has been undertaken flexibly (less than full time). I took up my present post as Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in November 2011.

12:40 pm – Buffet Lunch

14:20 am – Keynote Speaker

Prof Amy E. Herr

University of California Berkeley

Building precision medicine on molecular-to-cellular understanding
Abstract

The future of health care lies at the intersection of clinical medicine and molecular measurements. While radical advances are emerging from the decades-long Human Genome Project (DNA), next-generation precision medicine advances will require expansive sets of molecular measurements, including precision analysis of proteins. With DNA as life’s blueprint, proteins are the molecular machines that translate those ‘plans’ into a functional reality. Proteins are established drug targets, even now. In this talk, we will discuss how measurement of protein biomarkers of disease – often within individual cells – advances medicine towards a future that includes effective and (ultimately) affordable diagnostic breakthroughs.

Biography

Amy E. Herr is the Lester John & Lynne Dewar Lloyd Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Prof. Herr joined UC Berkeley as Assistant Professor of Bioengineering in 2007, was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2012, and promoted to Full Professor in 2015. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, she was a staff member in the Biosystems Research Group at Sandia National Laboratories (Livermore, CA; 2002-2007). She earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford with Profs. Tom Kenny & Juan Santiago as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, an MS in Mechanical Engineering also from Stanford, and a BS in Engineering & Applied Science from Caltech. Professor Herr is an elected Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), a Board Member of the Chemical & Biological Microsystems Society (CBMS) which oversees the microTAS conferences, is a standing member of the NIH Nanotechnology Study Section, and is an Advisory Board Member for the UCSF Rosenman Institute and the journals Analytical Chemistry and ACS Sensors. She has served as a Co-Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Single Cell Analysis summer course (2015 & 2016), both Chair (2009) and Vice-chair (2007) of the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on the Physics & Chemistry of Microfluidics. She is faculty advisor to the UC Berkeley chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE)and the Graduate Women in Engineering (GWE). Professor Herr’s research has been recognized by: the 2016 Mid-career Achievement Award from the American Electrophoresis Society, the 2015 Georges Guiochon Faculty Fellow from HPLC, the 2012 Young Innovator Award from Analytical Chemistry/CBMS, the 2012 Ellen Weaver Award from the Association for Women in Science (AWIS, for mentoring), a 2011 NSF CAREER award, a 2010 NIH New Innovator Award, a 2010 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in chemistry, a 2010 New Investigator Award in Analytical Chemistry from Eli Lilly & Co., a 2009 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award, a 2009 Hellman Family Faculty Fund Award from UC Berkeley, a 2008 Regents’ Junior Faculty Fellowship from the University of California. Professor Herr has also been recognized by the 2012 Outstanding Instructor Award in Bioengineering (Bioengineering Honor Society student vote) and a 2007 Outstanding Mentor Award from Sandia National Laboratories.

14:50 am – Session 3: Replacing Animal Models

Chair: Dr Helinor Johnston, Heriot-Watt University
Prof Arti Ahluwalia

University of Pisa

How do we scale from a cell culture to a human being? 
Abstract

Very short and very simple abstract: Cell culture experiments are used is to study and understand what happens to the cells inside us when we develop, grow or are exposed to different substances or stimuli. They are a sort of Lilliputian model of our bodies. Scientists spend a lot of time and effort trying to make better models and trying to figure out ways of extrapolating or “teasing out” what we observe in the experiments to what happens in our bodies. I will describe how we use stem cells, biomaterials and bioreactors to make better models. I will also explain the science of allometric scaling and the sizing laws that all living organisms follow simply because we are all made of the same stuff.

Biography

Arti Ahluwalia is a professor of Bioengineering at the Department of Information Engineering, Director of Research Center “E. Piaggio”, Pisa and Director of the Italian Interuniversity 3R Center (Centro 3R). She is scientific advisor to Kirkstall Ltd. UK, IVTech srl and Tensive srl. Arti is a member of the Italian Ministry of Health’s expert group on the implementation of the 3Rs and is a champion of non-animal technology development. Besides the development of bioreactor, sensing, biofabrication and scaffold technology, she has pioneered the application of allometric scaling to the design of in vitro systems.

Dr Ferry Melchels

Heriot Watt University

Shaping life outside the body
Abstract

Engineering in vitro tissues and organs to replace animal models is not only for the benefit of the animals, but also for the benefit of the patient. Animal models (particularly the much used rodents) are often poor predictors for the human situation. In in vitro models using human cells could be an improvement, but are inevitably going to be a huge oversimplification of real living human beings. The crux lies in finding the minimally required features that will invite cells to organise themselves into functional tissues, which can be used for experiments giving meaningful results.This talk will explore the importance of shape in this journey. It will show how cells respond differently to a 3D versus a 2D environment, including the role of matrix stiffness and chemistry. Further, it will demonstrate how biofabrication technologies can be used in synergy with the cells’ own self-organisational capacity to create functional in vitro models that will help reduce the use of animals in health research.

Biography

Dr. Ferry Melchels is an associate professor in the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering at Heriot Watt University. He has been developing and studying polymeric biomaterials for 14 years; combining hydrogels, scaffold materials and cells with biofabrication technologies to prepare 3D tissue constructs for regenerative medicine, in vitro models and drug delivery. Ferry holds an MSc in chemical engineering and PhD in biomaterials from the University of Twente (The Netherlands) and has been a Marie Curie post-doctoral fellow between Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Australia) and University Medical Center Utrecht (The Netherlands) before starting his PI position in Edinburgh in 2015. Current topics are shape memory polymers, vaccine delivery devices and 3D printed tumour models. Besides home brewing the best beers on the weekend, his future aim is to continue advancing biomaterials-based technology platforms for biomedical applications.

Dr Euan R Brown 

Heriot Watt University

Engineering human alternatives to use bioelectricity for label free drug discovery and biomedicine
Abstract

Just as the batteries in a mobile phone once charged enable autonomous wire-free operation of the phone, cells use stored charge to carry out many body functions ranging from thinking (nervous system), locomotion (muscle contraction) and metabolism (endocrine secretion). The tiny electrical fields produced can be detected, and the results interpreted to indicate tissue health (e.g the electrocardiogram). Here we show how we are developing the detection technology to assess the quality of single cells and small tissues such as human neurones, cardio-spheroids and pancreatic islets which may be used in regenerative medicine and transplantation. Our objective is to produce bench-top devices capable of label-free reporting of quality in a simple ‘high-through-put’ manner. In this short talk, we will show how this approach is helping inform better outcomes in Islet transplantation in type I diabetes in man.

 

Biography

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Dr Clive Roper

Charles River

Change from animal to non-animal models within regulatory toxicology: dermal absorption and respiratory toxicology
Abstract

Direct animal replacement with in vitro tests within regulatory toxicology has not been as successful as originally envisioned (Russell & Burch, 1959). Successes include genetic toxicology, photobiology and some aspects of acute topical toxicology. Many replacements need to demonstrate that the new test is as good as or better than the existing test. However, we often do not know how protective of human health the original animal test is without direct validation data available. Non-animal models are now utilising Adverse Outcome Pathways to identify the disease mechanism and then applying the new test to a new approach methodology. Two hot topic examples are dermal absorption and respiratory toxicology. For dermal absorption, Europe accepts a tiered approach (in vitro andin vivo only if in vitro data does not fulfil data requirements) whereas the US EPA and Canada PMRA have asked for in vivo only or the triple pack. We are now advising them to align them with Europe. The reverse is happening for respiratory toxicology, the US EPA are evaluating a NAM for respiratory toxicology that we helped to create, but this has not been examined within Europe. Both examples will be discussed in more detail.

Biography

Dr Roper has been Head of In Vitro Sciences at Charles River since 2010 having joined the company in 1996 after his degree, PhD and postdoc in Newcastle University. Dr Roper’s speciality area is dermal absorption where he has papers quoted by the OECD in the current guideline (OECD TG 428/ OECD GD 28). He has advised many companies and industry bodies as well as regulatory authorities. He has since become more well known within in vitro toxicology, where his papers have also been quoted by OECD for in vitro ocular toxicology. His department now leads in in vitro respiratory toxicology having defended a New Approach Methodology (NAM) at the US EPA in December 2018. Dr Roper has authored and continues to write peer review papers as well as regularly acting as a peer reviewer for toxicology journals. He has organised scientific meetings including Skin Forum, Nail Forum, Skin Metabolism Meeting and WC9. He has presented at many scientific meetings most recently as an invited speaker at the US ICCVAM SACATM conference (NIH) in September 2018 and Occupational Toxicology Roundtable and Association of Inhalation Toxicologists (October 2018).

Dr Avi Lerner

NC3Rs

CRACK IT: Commercialising 3Rs technologies
Abstract

The NC3Rs is a UK-based scientific organisation dedicated to replacing, refining and reducing the use of animals in research and testing (the 3Rs). CRACK IT is our platform to commercialise 3Rs technologies and is comprised of a challenge-led funding competition (Challenges) and technology partnering hub (Solutions). CRACK IT has been developed to facilitate active collaboration between the pharmaceutical, chemical and consumer products industries, contract research organisations, SMEs and the academic sector. This presentation will introduce both schemes, using case studies to highlight the scientific, technological and commercial opportunities applying the 3Rs principles can bring to your research.

Biography

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16:05 am – Coffee break

16:20 – Session 4: Robotics for a safer World

Chair: Dr Patricia A. Vargas
Dr Suphi Mustafa Erden

Heriot Watt University

Understanding Laparoscopy Skills for Robotic Training and Assistance
Abstract

We have been researching towards identifying what “skill” is for laparoscopy, through analysing data of novice subjects versus professional surgeons in four different modalities: trajectories of tool movement, robotized measurement of mechanical hand-impedance, EMG recording of arm muscle activities, and near-infrared spectroscopy recording of cortical brain activity. Tool trajectories are analysed using machine learning algorithms to find out characteristic features of different levels of skill. Our initial results indicate a significant difference in the level of mechanical hand-impedance between professional and novice subjects. EMG muscle activity data registered from novice and professional subjects while performing laparoscopy training exercises pave the way towards developing the first biologically based assessment criterion of laparoscopy skill level. We have demonstrated the change of patterns of muscle activity through training.

Biography

I received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, in 1999, 2001, and 2006. From 2007 to 2012 I was a postdoctoral researcher, successively in Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands; in Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées-ParisTech, France; in Univ. Pierre & Marie Curie – Paris 6, France. In 2012 I received the European Union Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship with my project “Skill Assistance with Robot for Manual Welding”. Between 2012 and 2014, I was with Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, with this fellowship. I am an Assistant Professor with the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, since 2015. My research interests include physical human-robot interaction, assistive robotics, skill assistance, mechatronics design, medical robotics, walking robots, and machine learning. I have been the PI of the EPSRC funded first-grant project “Understanding Laparoscopy Skills for Robotic Training and Assistance” and the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) funded “Cab Front Cleaning Robot Project”. Three of my PhD students are partially/fully funded by industry (RACE-UK Atomic Energy Authority and RSSB).

 

Prof Lynne Baille

Heriot Watt University

Social Assistive Robotics for rehabilitation
Abstract

I will present findings from recent Participatory Design (PD) workshops we have held in our assistive living lab with patient members of Chest Heart Stroke Scotland aimed at exploring the design of new socially assistive robotic technologies that could be used to support them or others with rehabilitation needs in the home environment. Some of our findings to date have been unanticipated, with important implications for future methodological design, specifically in regard to two areas. Firstly, selecting and integrating methods from Human Computer Interaction and Human Robot Interaction that allow for future repeatability. Secondly, for choosing the right methods for studies relating to socially collaborative robotics in home, public, and community settings.

Biography

Professor Lynne Baillie has a PhD (2003) and MSc in Computing (1999) and is currently the Director of the Interactive and Trustworthy Technologies Research Group at Heriot-Watt University. She has been successfully involved in the user centered design of home and mobile technologies for over fifteen years. She has a strong track record over 15 years in research management and leadership at a senior level in two countries (Austria and UK). She has been funded by RCUK and FFG, international companies (Orange, Telecom Austria, Alcatel-Lucent, Siemens, Microsoft), charities (Heritage Lottery Fund, CHSS, Paths to Health, Calman), and Governments (local, national and EU).

 

Dr Mauro Dragone

Heriot Watt University

Internet of Things and Robotic Technology for Ambient Assisted Living
Abstract

In this talk I will discuss the potential but also the acceptance concerns that still hinder the take-up and use of robots in assisted living applications. I will provide an overview of relevant research activities, and illustrate the European Robotics League, an opportunity to break down real-world challenges into a competition similar to the UEFA Champions League. I will then present the view of robotic technology as an extension of the IoT vision of connected sensors and smart objects, as a more practical way to provide home assistance, and illustrate the facilities that have been built to support this effort.

Biography

Mauro Dragone is an assistant professor with the Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems (ISSS), at the School of Engineering and Physical Science, Heriot-Watt University. His research expertise includes cognitive robotics, human-robot interaction, multi-agent systems and Internet of Things. At Heriot-Watt University, Dr. Dragone set up the Robotic Assisted Living Tested, a home-like environment where roboticists and computer scientists, and also usability and health experts, psychologists, and sociologists, can work alongside people with assisted living needs and those supporting them, to co-design and test innovative solutions for healthy ageing and assisted living.

Dr Renan Cipriano Moioli

Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil

Brain disorders: what can robots teach us?
Abstract

Cognitive and motor impairments are common outcomes from brain disorders. In search for a cure, scientists use computational and animal disease models. Both approaches are often incomplete: the former neglects that symptoms may emerge out of the animal brain-body-environment interactions; the latter is resource-intensive and only partially mimics the mechanisms of the disease. A promising alternative is Neurorobotics, which is at the intersection of robotics and neuroscience and focus on implementing neurobiological structures underlying animal behaviour in robots. In this talk, I will show that this novel approach has the potential to replicate traditional animal experiments, reduce the number of animals used in research, and unveil neural mechanisms in a cheaper, faster design, thus facilitating the investigation of disease mechanisms and possibly informing new therapies.

Biography

Dr. Renan C. Moioli is an Assistant Professor at the Digital Metropolis Institute (IMD) from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, where he is also part of the Graduate Program in Bioinformatics and co-founder of the Moiré Lab (Laboratory for Modeling, Simulation, and Control of Complex Systems in Life Sciences and Beyond). He has a B. Sc. in Electrical Engineering and a M. Sc. in Computer Engineering (2008) from the State University of Campinas, Brazil, where he was with the Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Bioinspired Computing, and a D. Phil. in Cognitive Science from the University of Sussex (2013), UK, working at the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics (CCNR). From 2013 to 2018 he was a research fellow at the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience, Brazil. His research interests are in the fields of computational intelligence, signal processing, machine learning and intelligent robotics. From 2018 to 2020 he is a UK Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellow and is working in close collaboration with Dr Patricia A. Vargas and her team at the MACS Robotics Laboratory within the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics on the “Neuro4PD:Neurorobotics model of Parkinson’s Disease” Project.

Dr Gnanathusharan (Thusha) Rajendran

Heriot-Watt University

Technology as a tool for promoting equality of opportunity for people with developmental conditions
Abstract

 

Here, I present research from the EPSRC-funded SoCoRo – Robot Training Buddy for adults with autism project. We argue that the talents of people with autism are underused because of the highly social nature of the modern workplace. So, people with autism are often faced with unemployment, rather than prized for their unique problem-solving skills. Our series of (ongoing) experiments investigates if the expressive behaviour of a robot ‘boss’ can be more easily decoded, in order to help people with autism understand if the boss is pleased or displeased [with their work]. Equally, our research aims also to reveal – to the neurotypical population – more effective ways of communicating to people on the autism spectrum.

 

Biography

 

Gnanathusharan (Thusha) Rajendran is a developmental psychologist who has been a Co-PI in multiple interdisciplinary teams in Computer Human Interaction and Human Robot Interaction – funded by the EU, ESRC and EPSRC. He is interested in how technologies can be used to change the environment and not the person, to enable an equally of access to health, social and education for people with developmental conditions, like autism.

 

17:35 – Closing Remarks

Professor Duncan Hand, Deputy Head of School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, HeriotWatt University

17:45 – Drinks Reception