€8.2m cardiovascular research centre opens its doors at Ulster University

22 Jan 2018

Cardiovascular monitoring devices being attached to a patient. Image: Ulster University

With cardiovascular issues on the rise, a new €8.2m centre in Ulster University is set to help design and build new devices for cardiovascular patients.

As populations get older and more overweight on average, the number of cardiovascular issues will only increase. Indeed, the World Health Organisation estimated that cardiovascular disease was the cause of almost one-third of global deaths in 2015.

Now, in a bid to help research and tackle the many issues surrounding the heart, a new €8.2m cross-border centre called the Eastern Corridor Medical Engineering Centre (ECME) has been opened at Ulster University.

The ECME is a partnership between Ulster University, Southern Health and Social Care Trust Cardiac Research Unit, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dublin City University, University College Dublin, and the University of the Highlands and Islands.

With the funding raised from the EU’s Interreg VA Programme, and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), the centre will see researchers from academia and industry collaborate with partners in the health and social care system to create better models of heart disease care.

This includes the development of new medical-grade wearables and remote monitoring systems to improve clinical outcomes and patient experience.

Could ease demand for hospital beds

The centre’s partners have confirmed that – as recent news has shown – there is overwhelming demand for hospital beds. They added that medical technologies such as smart wearables, user-ready sensor technology and patient monitoring systems can improve diagnostics and patient outcomes, and enable patients to live independently.

Speaking of the new centre, SEUPB’s CEO Gina McIntyre said: “This is a project which has the potential to positively transform the lives of thousands of people and their families across Northern Ireland, the border region of Ireland and western Scotland.

“By increasing the levels of cross-border research and innovation within the health and life sciences sector, there is the opportunity to create a strong economic impact, and this is one of the core objectives of the Interreg VA Programme. This project has great potential and will have a highly significant impact upon how cardiovascular disease is treated on a cross-border basis.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic