DEVELOPING and testing new laboratory-devised medical devices with patients is the aim of a new biomedical engineering facility to be constructed as part of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital rebuild.

The £25million academic centre will open at the specialist neuro-musculoskeletal hospital in Brockley Hill, Stanmore, in 2017 and is a partnershop between University College London (UCL) and the hospital trust.

Research staff will focus on work in the fields of bioengineering and biomaterials in order to develop materials for a unique wearable exoskeleton, assistive technology for sufferers of spinal injuries, and the safe packaging of implants to replace damaged electrical function in the body.

Professor David Lomas, Dean of UCL’s faculty of medical sciences and Professor Anthony Finkelstein, Dean of UCL’s faculty of engineering sciences, said in a joint statement: “The fragility of the human body, particularly in the context of an ageing population, means there are an ever-growing number of people who rely on technology to keep their dignity, independence and quality of life.

“Innovation and engagement through the design, prototyping and fabrication of novel medical devices will be at the core of the new facility.

“It will contribute significantly to UCL’s teaching, research and direct engagement with clinicians and industry partners.

“RNOH Stanmore is an excellent location for this broad and exciting vision.

“It trains one-third of the UK’s orthopaedic surgeons and this specialised hospital is unrivalled in terms of the musculoskeletal conditions and patient numbers that it treats.

“By partnering with Stanmore we have gained excellent links with surgeons, medical staff and patient communities.

“We have already established a strong basis of existing projects for world-leading changes and look forward to doing more work that will change lives.”

Students will be able to study a new undergraduate programme leading to a ‘Technical Medicine BSc’ qualification.

The centre is part of a £90 million redevelopment of the hospital’s aging facilities for which Harrow Council granted planning permission in March 2013.

Government approval has been given and the Treasury and the Department of Health are in the process of agreeing funding models to enable a bidder for the construction contract to be chosen ahead of an expected 2015 start date.

The hospital trust board declared at its April meeting “they are highly enthusiastic that UCL wish to invest in a major project on the site which is a key element of the hospital redevelopment”.


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