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The research hub is designed to develop innovative mathematical and statistical tools to inform clinical decision making on a patient-by-patient basis. 

Exeter receives £1.2 million grant for pioneering new research hub

The University of Exeter has been awarded a grant of more than £1 million to create a new research hub to boost diagnosing and managing some of the world’s most debilitating long-term health conditions and antimicrobial infections.

The centre, called the Hub for Quantitative Modelling in Healthcare and led by experts from the University’s Living Systems Institute has received a grant of £1,231,618 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The hub is due to begin carrying out pioneering research from early 2021.

Exeter’s world-leading researchers in diabetes, microbial communities, medical mycology and mental health in collaboration with the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at Imperial College London will work jointly with a range of industrial partners, patients and other stakeholders in the new hub.

The research hub is designed to develop innovative mathematical and statistical tools to inform clinical decision making on a patient-by-patient basis. This in turn will allow healthcare professionals to deliver more personalised and patient centred preventative treatments and medicines.

For example, in diabetes where a range of treatment options exist, identifying the optimal medication, and the pattern of its delivery, based upon the profile of the individual will enable health carers to maximise efficacy, while minimising unwanted side effects.

Professor Krasi Tsaneva-Atanasova, who will lead the new hub said: “Although quantitative modelling is a well-established tool used in the fields of economics and finance, cutting-edge quantitative analysis has only recently become possible in health care. Hence the potential for designing future therapies, optimising treatments and improving community health and care through the application of quantitative modelling is enormous. Our new Hub approach will allow us to develop relevant statistical and mathematical methodologies for our clinical and industrial partners that are also informed by input from patients and carers.”

Professor Robert Beardmore, who will co-lead the new hub said: "The covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need for data-driven mathematical modelling of infection like never before, demonstrating how the microorganisms that cause diseases are no respecters of national borders. This research will develop new mathematical methods for understanding infectious diseases that risk failure, like sepsis and even future pandemics, because of antibiotic resistance.”

Professor Waljit S Dhillo, Head of Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Imperial College London, Co-I on the grant said: “I am delighted that the EPSRC has recognised the potential of this exciting Hub to uniquely take mathematics into medicine to make a difference for the clinical care of patients.

“My team at Imperial is carrying out first into human studies of new drugs and devices. Working with Krasi’s team takes our work to a new level as working together we are able to mathematically model the data generated in patients in order to develop algorithms which is immediately translatable to the clinic. I am very excited about what we will be able to achieve together over the next 4 years – I have met few mathematicians who also understand biology and hence this Hub will deliver exciting findings which will improve clinical care. “

The University has entered a partnership with the Devon Partnership NHS Trust, the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, the Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust , North Bristol NHS Trust, The Alan Turing Institute, SW Academic Health Science Network, the University of Sydney, Nanyang Technological University,  Brain in Hand, Brainbow Limited, Certus Technology Associates Ltd, First Databank Europe Ltd, IP Pragmatics and Ludger Ltd for the new Hub.

Date: 1 June 2020