Design at the he(art) of $24M hub to advance personalised medicine

Thursday, 22 July 2021

In a win for the nation’s personalised healthcare capability, the University of Newcastle has been announced as a key partner in the establishment of a new $24 million Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Hub led by the University of New South Wales.

Combining research, industry knowledge and entrepreneurship with a focus on transformative health care, the new Hub for Connected Sensors for Health will aid the development of innovative medical technologies (MedTech), such as jewellery and smart fabrics, designed to fit with ease into people’s everyday lives.

University of Newcastle Professor of Creative Industries, Paul Egglestone, said the venture was a world-first fusion of art, design, science and technology.

“The new Hub will harness our University’s unique expertise in design-driven decision making,” Professor Egglestone said.

“There is an increasing demand for the development of durable, highly functional and low-cost wearable sensors as we move towards better personalised healthcare.

“The Hunter region has the capability to play a central role in the development of MedTech with the University and Hunter Medical Research Institute having a proven track record in commercialising research.”

Professor Egglestone and colleague, Professor Mario Minichiello, added that the creative industries were imperative in future-proofing design, which extended to the medical field.

“Behaviour change is essential to disease prevention, self-management and recovery, which is where we come in. For the first time, creatives are working with researchers and medical professionals to ensure new devices are designed with the end user in mind,” they said.

“We have a crack team via our FASTLab with expertise in design, augmented reality and digital performance systems who will be testing sensors using designs from jewellery to attractive fabrics, each engineered with a monitoring and feedback purpose to increase the potential for behaviour change by wearers.”

The University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute will join the NSW Smart Sensing Network, 29 industry partners and seven universities led by Professor Chun Wang at UNSW.

The Hub was recently awarded $5 million in funding under the latest round of the Australian government’s ARC Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP) to compliment in-kind contributions from participants and industry partners.

*The University of Newcastle and HMRI teams comprise Professor Mario Minichiello, Professor Paul Egglestone, Dr Rewa Wright, Dr Nicole Carroll, Professor Mike Calford and Professor Mark Flynn.

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