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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X037770/1
Title: Ubiquitous Optical Healthcare Technologies (ubOHT) Programme Grant
Principal Investigator: Baumberg, Professor JJ
Other Investigators:
Hamilton, Professor W Krauss, Professor T Girolami, Professor M
Bohndiek, Dr SE Graham, Professor D
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AstraZeneca Cambridge Consultants Ltd Eastern Academic Health Science Network
EG Technology Ltd Hitachi Europe Ltd Huawei Group
LGC Ltd National Physical Laboratory NPL Nokia
NRBTech Ltd Omnivision Owlstone Medical
Procter & Gamble Sony Spiden AG
The Alan Turing Institute Unitive Design and Analysis Ltd. Wasatch Photonics
Department: Physics
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: Programme Grants
Starts: 01 October 2023 Ends: 30 September 2029 Value (£): 6,904,302
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Analytical Science Instrumentation Eng. & Dev.
Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Mar 2023 Healthcare Technologies Programme Grants Interview Panel March 2023 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Vision: to drive and promote advances in optical biosensing capable of translation to low-cost monitoring, and to build a broad UK community in low-cost sensing for healthcare.

Precision medicine tailors healthcare to individual patient characteristics. We are now entering a new era of precision health, which shifts towards healthy individuals, asking how we prevent disease with appropriate interventions, prolonging healthy lifespans. New challenges include the urgent need for precise technologies to monitor individuals throughout life, and for improved methods to interpret this wealth of data.

Precision health demands new physical biosensors that are low-cost but elicit rich biochemical information and can be used outside the clinic. This frees up clinician-time and focusses scarce resources. It is vital to develop methods to extract/exploit downstream patient-specific information from the sensors. Current exemplars ('BioSensors 1.0') are wearable devices (such as Fitbit, Apple watch), which record only superficial parameters (eg. temperature, acceleration, blood oxygenation), while glucose/insulin sensors provide only very specific data; the major challenge of providing comprehensive analytical information with an affordable portable device remains key for healthcare. The SARS CoV-2 lateral flow tests popularised the notion of personalised disease testing and showed it can be a reality however they lack sensitivity, reliable and consistent interpretation, and robust reporting capabilities.

The leading groups assembled here have a track record of pioneering optical approaches for new paradigms in the biosensing domain, from conception through to market. Together, they propose to synergistically explore the underpinning fundamental science of 'BioSensors 2.0' and develop key demonstrators that address clinical needs while building a broader UK community of academics, SMEs, institutes, & clinicians to drive this paradigm to real demonstrators.

Current portable sensors are too simple and limited in their capability. Instead, we need to translate advanced lab-based technologies into portable devices. Systems aspects need care, while miniaturisation is challenging. Sensors should achieve multiplexing, use machine learning algorithms to interpret outcomes, auto-calibrate to ensure long term operation, survive changing conditions, and attain small-enough limits of detection required for various biofluids. This is a time-critical juncture, as other countries will start to develop in this space, though nothing explicitly exists yet- the NHS as the main UK provider may be a great driver.

We also focus on community building, with targeted activities to ensure the UK is placed to capitalise on sensor developments. Through building a Big Idea 'Making Senses' for the Research Councils across the wider Sensors ecosystem, our team identified with EPSRC the lack of UK leadership and joined-up academia-industry-govt networks. Engaging with a wide range of stakeholders from SMEs to large entities (NPL, CPI, LGC, Turing..) and multinationals (P&G, AstraZeneca,..), we find strong appetite and market pull for new types of biosensors with application domains beyond the hospital, as well as industrial settings. New ways to leverage light-matter interactions (in which the is UK internationally strong) for realistic biodiagnostics demands a broad interdisciplinary research focus. This confluence aims to develop entirely new industries of the future, and to energise the UK interdisciplinary science base, which is vital over the next 50 years as we realise the new paradigm of BioSensors 2.0.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.cam.ac.uk