Faculty of Biological Sciences

Research Bulletin

Medical engineering pioneers' Royal prize

28th November 2011

Longer-lasting hip joints, replacement heart valves and knee reconstructions - technologies all developed at the University of Leeds - have won the Royal seal of approval.

Two decades of world-leading medical engineering research and impact have been rewarded with the Queen's Anniversary Prize, which is the country's highest accolade for an academic institution.

The Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (IMBE) at Leeds was named today as a winner in the prizes, which will be presented by the Queen in February.

The Institute, led by Professor John Fisher and the Faculty of Biological Science's Professor Eileen Ingham, is the UK's leading bioengineering research institution and has pioneered research into joint replacements, spinal interventions and tissue engineering and has created new products and therapies which are in use by surgeons in clinics and hospitals around the world:

  • Tens of thousands of people have received improved joint replacements based on this research;
  • Its unique valve replacement technology has given a new lease of life to patients who were suffering chronic heart conditions;
  • It has pioneered regenerative biological scaffolds for vascular repair.

Building on this platform of excellence, the Institute is determined to push back the boundaries of this research, create new therapies to replace damaged tissues in further areas of the body and enable surgeons to perform longer-lasting orthopaedic reconstruction.

Professor Fisher, also Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University, expressed his pride at the award: "We are absolutely delighted. This is recognition for the hard work of a lot of people - and of the fact that we are taking this work forward into the future.

"Our objective is to improve the quality of life of people as they age by focussing upon the research, development and translation of practical medical engineering interventions. We are driven by the conviction that, with the right medical and biological interventions, the goal of fifty active years after the age of fifty is within reach."

A major focus for IMBE in the years ahead will be on early interventions to address the global burden of osteoarthritis which is predicted to be the fourth leading cause of disability in the world by 2020.

"We can't live forever of course. Our work is about enabling people to enjoy their old age more actively, but of course by staying active, people are also reducing their risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity - all of them potential killers."

The Institute is committed to continuing its work into the future. It is a key partner in a £10m Doctoral Training Centre, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. This will support the training of 50 PhD studentships by 2015, attracting the best postgraduates from around the world and developing the next generation of researchers in medical and biological engineering who will ensure that this vital work remains on an upward trajectory.

The Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education, awarded every two years, are part of the UK honours system, and promote world class excellence in UK universities and colleges. This is the second such award to the University of Leeds, whose Institute for Transport Studies was a winner in 2010.


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Keith Hamer, Department of Energy & Climate Change (Mar 2015), £58,066

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