IRC Proteus II

Project: Research council

Project Details


The EPSRC IRC Proteus is made up of a group of world-leading scientists, engineers and clinicians. Interdisciplinarity is at our heart - we work across traditional boundaries linking together disciplines such as optical physics, chemical biology, biology and engineering to name but a few. The ambition and desire is to translate technologies to help patients - empowering clinicians to "see disease" in front of their eyes at the bedside and help them to make the right decisions and give the right treatments at the right time.

This highly interdisciplinary collaboration driven by clinical need and pull, has led to the design, fabrication and testing in patients of a number of world-leading bedside-based technology platforms. Our technology platform combines advanced fibre optic technology (that can be readily be passed into the lung of patients) and highly sensitive detectors in association with highly sensitive fluorescent chemical reagents to diagnose disease. This allows clinicians to "view" inside the lung to detect bacteria or aberrant disease signatures of disease.

Clinical pull: Intensive care unit (ICU) patients suffer high death and disability rates and are responsible for a disproportionate financial burden on the health service (the equivalent of 1% of USA GDP is spent on patients in intensive care). Potentially fatal lung complications are a common problem in ventilated ICU patients and doctors caring for these patients in the ICU face many challenges, often needing to make snap decisions without the information necessary to properly inform those decisions. The new technology platforms being developed by Proteus are helping doctors in the intensive care unit to make rapid and accurate diagnoses of patients, allowing them to direct and inform therapy and ensure patients get the right treatment, at the right time and quickly. Although our technology platforms have a focus at this time on being used in the intensive care unit, it is widely applicable to a wide range of lung conditions and other healthcare situations, such as bowel or pancreatic cancer.

The next steps for the IRC are to take our technology into a new area in which different flavours of light can be used to diagnose disease - using the teams' highly advanced light sensors (that are able to count a single photon). In addition the proposal moves the IRC towards sustainability, creating a legacy from the EPSRC investment - accelerating the pathways to take new technology into patients, while developing commercial opportunities.

In summary the EPSRC IRC Proteus has generated a new cohort of young interdisciplinary scientists trained in physical and biological sciences and engineering that have a full appreciation and practical experience of clinical translational and commercialisation pathways. They will be able to meet the challenges of converting advances in science and engineering into healthcare benefits with the development of a number of cutting-edge bedside technology platforms which will help doctors make rapid and accurate diagnoses. The team, in association with the partner Universities, have also begun to make major strides towards full sustainability of the IRC - making major impacts in the areas of clinical and commercial translation, with significant academic outputs and public engagement activities.
Effective start/end date1/04/1931/12/22

Collaborative partners

  • University of Bath
  • University of Edinburgh (lead)
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Durham University
  • University of Dundee


  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

RCUK Research Areas

  • Biomolecules and biochemistry
  • Chemical measurement
  • Information and communication technologies
  • Optics, photonics and lasers
  • Chemical biology
  • Analytical Science
  • Digital Signal Processing
  • Optical Devices and Subsystems


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