University showcases pioneering research for Minister

The new Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP, visited world-leading research facilities at the University on Monday 15 June.

Jo Johnson MP learns about iPAM, our robotic exercise system to help stroke patients with rehabilitation


Mr Johnson toured the University’s Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (iMBE), which has pioneered research in joint replacement technologies, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, and the National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems, one of the best equipped robot building labs in the world.

He saw first-hand how Leeds is tackling key societal challenges, such as improving joint replacements and tissue repair for an aging population, helping the fight against colorectal (bowel) cancer by developing a more patient-friendly colonoscopy, and a robotic system to assist patients with rehabilitation.

Following the visit to the iMBE, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Director of the Institute, Professor John Fisher, said, “It’s fitting that the Minister chose Leeds and one of the world’s top 10 bioengineering research institutes for his first visit, where we were able to showcase our expertise and world-leading technologies that are making a real difference to people’s lives.

“Our goal at the Institute is 50 active years after 50, as we believe that our second 50 years can be as active as the first. For example, we’re helping companies across the world create better, more durable, hip and knee joint replacements which wear less and last longer, and we are developing novel biological scaffolds to support tissue repair and regeneration.” 

The Minister was then shown round Leeds’ Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems, which has the most advanced suite of robot building equipment in the UK, offering the latest 3D printing and high-precision assembly technologies.

Dr Rob Richardson, Director of the Facility, said, “The robotic facility puts Leeds and the UK at the forefront of robot design and construction.

“We showed the Minister our work towards developing a novel robotic hydro-colonoscopy. As one of the world’s most common cancers, we hope to develop more patient-friendly screening and increase the uptake of colonoscopies, to ultimately help with the early diagnosis – and treatment - of colorectal cancer.

“We also showcased iPAM, our robotic exercise system for people with strokes – this means stroke patients are helped with additional exercises on their affected upper limbs, in between conventional therapy sessions.”

Mr Johnson said: “I’ve been hugely impressed by iMBE and the robotics and autonomous systems are just mind-blowing. The benefits we will see to UK productivity in years to come will be immense.”

Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, who also met with the Minister, added, “The UK has a very strong reputation in science and research, but universities play an enormous role in transferring this knowledge into commercial and clinical applications. Our Medical Technologies IKC, which is an innovation and knowledge centre funded by UK Research Councils, is one of the best at developing world-leading technologies from our world-leading research, so we have much to be proud of to share with the Minister today.”

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