School of Engineering

Biomedical Engineering Research Group (BERG)

Engineering can play a transformative role in healthcare and within the School of Engineering, a group of academics collaborate with clinicians and healthcare specialists from Leicester University Hospitals Trust, our Medical School, School of Healthcare and beyond to address challenges around health and wellbeing. Research interests stretch from biomaterials for tissue regeneration to modelling and monitoring of the cardiovascular system; the development of digital asthma patients through to biological signal processing and machine learning on biometric data.

Research focus

Our group's research focuses on several key areas, including:

  • Cellular engineering
  • Computational biology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomechanics
  • Machine learning/AI
  • Biosignal processing

History and funding

The University of Leicester School of Engineering has a rich history in bioengineering research, dating back to the 1950s. Since 2020, BERG has successfully attracted research funding from various prestigious organisations, including EPSRC, MRC, Horizon Europe, Wellcome Trust, and others, contributing significantly to the Leicester NIHR Biomedical Research Centre – Cardiovascular Theme (£26 million).

Projects

Advanced Multidisciplinary Research for Antimicrobial Resistance

Coordinator and Principle Investigator

Professor Haitao Ye, BEng, PhD, FHEA, FInstP, DGA, Professor in Functional Materials/PGR Tutor for School of Engineering

Highlights

  • Horizon Europe newly-funded project 
  • 2024 - 2027
  • Budget: EUR 441,600
  • Eight consortium members

Project work packages

  • WP1: Administration and management
  • WP2: Functionalized nanomaterials; Nano diamond and graphene
  • WP3: Diamond biomarker -functionalized coating; Contact based antibacterial
  • WP4: Up-conversion technology; Doping and implantation
  • WP5: UV Micro-LED devices
  • WP6: Dissemination and public engagement

BHF Project Grant: Improving target identification for catheter ablation using dominant frequency and rotor analysis in human persistent atrial fibrillation using non-contact mapping

Principle Researcher

Dr Xin Li, BSc, MSc, PhD, FHEA, Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering

Highlights

  • 2018 - 2020
  • British Heart Foundation Project Grant (PG/18/33/33780) - £250k FEC
  • Multiple key research papers

Project work aims

  • To improve accuracy identifying atrial regions as relevant ablation targets based on characteristics of DF and rotor behaviours
  • To evaluate value of long mapping duration in discovering driver sites
  • To explore the role of BSPM in identifying AF drivers non-invasively

Diamond-based nanomaterials for biosensing applications

Coordinator and Principle Investigator

Professor Haitao Ye, BEng, PhD, FHEA, FInstP, DGA, Professor in Functional Materials/PGR Tutor for School of Engineering

Highlights

  • H2020 funded Research project 
  • 2023 - 2024
  • Budget: EUR 204,847
  • In collaboration with the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), Japan

Project work packages

  • Biosensors are analytical devices that encompass a sensitive biological detection material or a biological receptor capable of offering ultrasensitive detection of markers specific for diseases. Nanomaterials and in particular diamond-based nanoparticles exhibit attractive properties for in vitro biosensing, but their fabrication presents with technical challenges
  • The EU-funded DNA-BIO project focuses on the development of novel nano-diamond species that can be selectively functionalised on their surface to serve specific sensing applications including biological imaging. The project is expected to bring the next generation of high-resolution bioimaging sensors to the research community and the biomedical field.

Diamond-based nanomaterials and nanostructures for advanced electronic and photonic application

Coordinator and Principle Investigator

Professor Haitao Ye, BEng, PhD, FHEA, FInstP, DGA, Professor in Functional Materials/PGR Tutor for School of Engineering

Highlights

  • H2020 funded RISE project (2017 - 2023)
  • Overall budget: EUR 1.1m
  • 24+ journal papers published
  • 5 workshops organised
  • 3 follow-up fundings
  • Access to US National Lab

Project work packages

  • WP1: Administration and management
  • WP2: Diamond growth; Chemical vapor deposition
  • WP3: Diamond biomarker; Surface functionalisation; Optical characterisation
  • WP4: Diamond power devices; Nanoimprint; E-beam lithography
  • WP5: Diamond photonic devices; Meta-surface design; Femtosecond laser
  • WP6: Dissemination and public engagement 

Impact Acceleration Account: Development of ultra-cost-effective heart rhythm monitoring solutions

Principal Investigator

Dr Xin Li, BSc, MSc, PhD, FHEA, Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering

Highlights

  • 2022 - 2024
  • Two MRC IAA funds (£72k, £66k)
  • Supported by Leicester Drug Discovery and Diagnostics (LD3)
  • Knowledge exchange, impact and proof of concept fund 2022-23, £4k

Project work packages

  • WP1: Developing a prototype
  • WP2: Developing a software package
  • WP3: Bench testing of devices
  • WP4: Automatic machine-learning-based diagnostics and multi-channel data acquisition

Development of a successful novel technology for sudden cardiac death risk stratification for clinical use

Principle Researcher

Dr Xin Li, BSc, MSc, PhD, FHEA, Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering

Highlights

  • 2019 - 2022 
  • MRC Biomedical Catalyst DPFS Developmental Pathway Funding (MR/S00582X/1) - £1m
  • Following on funding for usability study of the prototype obtained – NIHR i4i

Project work packages 

  • WP1: Developing automated algorithm for invasive LifeMap markers
  • WP2: Non-invasive LifeMap, correlation and automation
  • WP3: Develop a robust platform for ECG collection for non-invasive LifeMap
  • WP4: LifeMap measurement optimisation for recording locations
  • WP5: LifeMap medical prototype development for clinical trial

Quality-assurance user-focussed evaluation of safety and tolerability (LifeMap-QUEST)

Principal Researcher

Dr Xin Li, BSc, MSc, PhD, FHEA, Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering

Highlights

  • 2023 - 2025
  • £840k 
  • Patented technology on route for commercialisation
  • NIHR invention for innovation (i4i)

Project work packages

  • WP1: Project management
  • WP2: PPI
  • WP3: Product development
  • WP4: Clinical study
  • WP5: Usability study
  • WP6: Regulatory
  • WP7: IP
  • WP8: Commercialisation

Deep learning methods for early detection of myocardial ischemia using digital and paper ECGs

Principal Investigator

Dr Xin Li, BSc, MSc, PhD, FHEA, Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering

Highlights

  • 2020 - 2024
  • £11.8k
  • UK Biobank database

Project work packages

  • WP1: Database identification and preparation from multiple sources
  • WP2: Refining paper ECG refining tool
  • WP3: Model development and improvement with digital ECG data

Using diamond to fight fungi in Space

Principle Investigator

Professor Haitao Ye, BEng, PhD, FHEA, FInstP, DGA, Professor in Functional Materials/PGR Tutor for School of Engineering

Highlights

  • Royal Society APEX Award (2021-2023)
  • Royal Society APEX Public Engagement Award
  • In collaboration with the National Space Centre, Space Park Leicester and the University of Manchester
  • Invited talk in 2022 UK in Space Festival
  • Invited talk in 2023 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition
The project aims to exploit the disruptive innovation involving surface functionalised diamonds to address the problem of fungal growth in space environment both on surfaces and critical components in manned satellites.

Project work packages

  • WP1: Diamond film growth and nano-structuring
  • WP2: Antimicrobial metal doping
  • WP3: Antimicrobial property evaluation
  • WP4: Space application

Next Generation of Bioresorbable Vascular Scaffold

Principal Investigator

Jingzhe Pan

Background

A Holy Grail for clinical cardiology was to develop a scaffold for balloon treated coronary arteries that resorbed once no longer required. Unfortunately, Abbott announced in September 2017 that sale of Absorb BVS, the only bioresorbable coronary scaffold approved in Europe and US, would end. Despite initial enthusiasm by cardiologists and the devices being implanted in many thousands of patients, clinical evidence of high rates of very late scaffold thrombosis (VLST) led to concerns of the physician community and discontinued use. This is a major setback for patients and a new industry built around BVSs.

At Leicester, we are making a transformative step in the design of next generation of bioresorbable vascular scaffold – avoiding strut protrusion. The research hypothesis is that strut protrusion, the dominating mechanism leading to VLST, can be eliminated by a combination of polymer design, scaffold design and control of manufacturing process. A computer model is being developed to translate the clinical trial data into new paradigms for the next generation of BVSs. Our vision is to find the ideal scaffold that reduces the probability of strut protrusion using computer simulation, and thereby minimise the huge development cost of animal and clinical trials. The model will also be used to ensure that risk of malapposition, the second dominating mechanism for VLST, is negligible.

Numerical investigations of auditory processes using insects as model systems

Principal Investigator

Emine Celiker, MMath, PhD/Lecturer in Engineering Mathematics and Computational Methods

Background

Bush-cricket ears are unique as they have evolved the same three basic hearing stages observed in mammals:

  1. sound capturing
  2. impedance conversion
  3. frequency analysis

Bush-crickets have tympanal ears located in the tibia of their forelegs with outer, middle and inner ear components

Aims and objectives

  • To develop comprehensive numerical simulations for investigating the workings of the bush-cricket hearing system
  • To use mathematical models to go beyond experimental limitations for a theoretical understanding of the underlying biomechanism
  • To determine to what degree the bush-cricket and mammalian auditory systems are comparable

People

Head of group

Core members

Affiliate members

Collaborations and facilities

Practical research is advantaged by advanced microscopy imaging capabilities and a new VR/motion tracking facility housed within the School coupled with a range of commercial and open source software available for computational analysis locally and on HPC servers.

Join us

If you are interested in collaborating with us or joining our group, please contact our Head of Group.

We are excited to advance biomedical engineering research through diverse and impactful projects, and we look forward to furthering our contributions to the field.

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