The ECME project partners have a wide range of research capabilities. A summary is shown below.
Ulster University has numerous capabilities in relation to cardiac health technology which are utilized as part of the ECME project.
Within the Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre (NIBEC) we have the capability to develop a range of Point of Care Diagnostics and Healthcare Sensor Systems. In particular, the centre has the capability to develop specific tests for a range of biomarkers and sensing systems including the production of customised bioassays, lateral flow tests, electrode design, microneedles, electrocardiogram modelling, algorithm development, microfluidics and many more.
Artificial Intelligence as it relates to cardiac health and other chronic conditions is an area which NIBEC has many years experience. We have developed algorithms in a number of areas including the analysis and enhancement of ECG data. In addition to this machine learning is being applied to image analysis for diagnostic purposes allowing for greater accuracy and speed of diagnosis of cardiac health conditions. Finally, mining of large datasets and the identification of trends allows our researchers to identify new therapies and make recommendations on existing ones administered by healthcare professionals.
Tissue Engineering has gone from strength to strength over the last 10 years. At NIBEC researchers are working to develop a range of new technologies in this area. As part of the ECME project, we will be growing biological samples to test and model atrial fibrillation to assist us in understanding this condition better. We have a bio plotter which can be used to 3D print biological material allowing us to produce a range of 3D tissue samples.
The ECME project also utilises expertise from the Computer Science Research Institute. (CSRI) Researchers within this area can utilise non-obtrusive sensor systems to monitor clinically relevant data remotely and send this to healthcare professionals. This can be used for many purposes including improvement in the rehabilitation of patients, diagnosis or a range of conditions and patient monitoring for vulnerable individuals receiving care at home. The CSRI also has expertise in the area of medical device UX design which is a critical area to consider when developing new products as good design increases adoption and minimises medical mistakes.
Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) has numerous capabilities in relation to cardiac health technology which are utilized as part of the ECME project.
The Netwell CASALA Research Centre in DkIT has expertise in Ambient Assisted Living, Wearable Devices, and Big Data and combines this expertise in research focused on enhancing longer living in smarter places. NetwellCASALA seeks to enhance the quality of life and well-being of older people and those living with chronic conditions, through more integrated community-oriented services, more sustainable home and neighbourhood design, and more age-friendly technologies. NetwellCASALA has expertise in the user-centered design of age-friendly technologies and human-computer interaction. This expertise, combined with capabilities in data integration and analysis will allow us to design, develop and test technology-based systems that deliver health and wellbeing interventions to people with cardiac conditions. We also have expertise in public health policy and work with local, regional and national bodies to inform social policy as it relates to our changing demographics and ageing population. Using this knowledge the ECME project in DkIT will seek to establish strategies to transform community cardiac care by developing a workforce skilled in person-centred, technology-enabled care.
The ECME project will also utilises the know-how and expertise of researchers in the Regulated Software Research Centre (RSRC) in DkIT. The RSRC have extensive experience in the development of a number of international standards to ensure the safety and security of medical devices. The ECME project will utilise these skills to examine the current standards and regulations which apply when a placing a medical device onto an IT network and will implement these standards to ensure the safety and effectiveness of devices on the network whilst also protecting health information.
University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) has numerous capabilities in relation to cardiac health technology which are utilized as part of the ECME project.
Within the centre for diabetes and cardiovascular science, we have the capability to develop and test a range of Point of Care Diagnostics and Systems. In particular, the centre has the capability to develop specific tests and assess the biological role for a range of bio markers. UHI can implement testing scenarios within human participants, including intervention strategies, through our extensive facilities and expertise to undertake the testing and evaluation of such measures.
At UHI, in the division of health, we have a dedicated Rural Health team that have expertise in the evaluation of interventions and services. The Rural Health team will evaluate a range of technology-enabled situations, including the benefit of Point of Care Systems for diagnosis of asymptomatic atrial fibrillation and the impact of Fit Homes to facilitate safe care outside the hospital setting.
Cardiac Rehabilitation is of particular interest to the researchers at UHI and we work closely with NHS Highlands. The expertise range from development of novel interventions, particularly in a remote and rural setting, through to implementation and evaluation of outcomes. Through the ECME project, UHI will develop and evaluate specific interventions that are optimised for patients in these hard to reach populations.
The newly formed Active Health research group and facilities (including state of the art exercise testing and ultrasound imaging equipment) allow us to assess the impact of physical activity/ exercise interventions in cardiac disease populations. This may be through the development of wearable devices for patient monitoring and/or behaviour change, through to the quantification of novel cardiac related bio markers following interventions in the community.
University College Dublin (UCD) has numerous capabilities in relation to cardiac health technology which are utilized as part of the ECME project.
UCD is a leader in Connected Health through its large connected health programme which seeks to promote connected health nationally and at European level. UCD’s connected health programme is led by the Applied Research for Connected Health (ARCH) Centre and the Insight Centre for Data Analytics. ARCH is a multidisciplinary research centre that works with industry partners exploring and evaluating the adoption of connected health solutions and routes to market. The Insight Centre in UCD is one of Europe’s largest data analytics research organisations and has a wide range of capabilities across a number of research themes. Researchers in personal sensing across both groups bring together expertise from clinical science, material science, computer science, and biomedical engineering to enhance the application of the sensor web to challenges in connected health and sport. These proficiencies together with other expertise in ethnography in these two research centres will allow the ECME project to conduct deep ethnographic analysis of the potential for electronic health records and personal sensing devices to transform care models in cardiac care and will allow for recommendations to be made to clinicians, patient groups, policy makers and service providers with regard to best practice in the field.
The ECME project will also utilize other proficiencies within the multidisciplinary Insight Centre, such as the expertise in the field of Recommender Systems and Human-Computer Interaction. Research within the theme of recommender systems is focused on developing the next generation of recommender systems and personalisation technologies, while within the Human-Computer Interaction theme Insight researchers are seeking to design systems that address some of the many of the challenges in healthcare. The ECME project will apply this know-how to research that seeks to develop and evaluate a personalized lifestyle system in tandem with an adaptive training programme for people with cardiac conditions. Insight researchers also have extensive experience in machine learning and statistics and have had a particular focus on applications to real-world problems. This data analytics expertise will allow the ECME project to develop prediction algorithms that will help people with chronic heart failure manage their condition.
The Cardiac Research Unit (CRU) housed within the Craigavon Area Hospital is part of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust. The Unit is part of a working cardiac ward and routinely carries out a range of cardiac health interventions including stenting, coronary angiograms, thrombolysis and the fitting of pacemakers. This makes the CRU an ideal location for carrying out research into various cardiac themed research projects.
The trust has expertise in the area of clinical decision making support systems which assist healthcare professionals to make faster more accurate decisions leading to improved patient outcomes. They will as part of the ECME project be taking this a step further and investigating the use of artificial intelligence to further enhance the decision-making process. Due to the front line nature of the Unit, the trust has a keen interest in cardiac health screening and they are developing novel screening methods to assess the vascular health of patients at a lower cost. This will allow for more patients to be screened reducing the harm done by cardiac health events. The trust are also developing tests to identify heart failure at earlier stages by measuring blood composition allowing earlier and more effective health interventions.
The School of Biotechnology at Dublin City University has extensive experience in the research of chronic diseases and the development of diagnostic tests. The first capability which will be utilised by the ECME project is the expertise of vascular biology. Researchers at DCU will be examining how the measurement of extracellular vesicles can be used as a biomarker to predict cardiovascular disease. This is part of a wider research capability looking at the exact mechanism of arterial degradation over time and how it can be measured and mitigated to improve cardiac health.
In addition to this DCU has considerable experience in the development of a range of diagnostic tests for a range of conditions. Researchers have the capability to find and test new biomarkers and also develop the associated test kits/prototype testing machines that are required to prove new concepts and test their effectiveness. This is done in an expanding prototyping lab and with support from DCU’s Nano Research facility which contains high end, state-of-the-art scientific equipment.