Medical imaging has the potential to enable earlier and more precise diagnosis of disease and its use during therapy treatments can improve patient outcomes. Imaging can also be used in planning surgery and during surgery to increase its effectiveness. Point of care imaging technologies that are suited to clinical environments across the world are also needed. Medical imaging is a key underpinning technology critical to the success of a wide range of medical research. Public investment in biomedical imaging research and skills development is essential for the UK to remain competitive in an area characterised by UK leadership.
The 2012 EPSRC/MRC review of Medical Imaging Technologies identified a number of challenges in career structure that are critical to continued UK leadership in this area. The UK needs to develop the next generation of innovators of medical imaging to be able to work across disciplinary interfaces such as biomedicine, biology, engineering, maths and physical and computer sciences. This will enable the training of future leaders with the skills to innovate in clinically relevant medical imaging technologies, methodologies, and protocols.
This is best achieved through a cohort approach to training where students and staff with different preclinical and clinical disciplinary backgrounds can co-exist. This intensity of co-training is unlikely to happen outside dedicated Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs). Where possible EPSRC and MRC would particularly welcome medical imaging CDTs that are able to span the breadth of medical, pre-clinical/in-vivo and cellular imaging modalities.
Proposals should offer multidisciplinary, translation-focused industrially and clinically relevant doctoral training that builds upon research excellence and will develop skilled people for the healthcare and life sciences sector.
Training should cover appropriate exposure to end user/ patient involvement, safety, regulatory and ethical approval processes, as well as topics such as risk management, life cycle analysis and systems-based approaches. Centres should promote industrial and clinical connectivity. Joint supervision from the most appropriate disciplines is required.
Graduates should have the skills to innovate responsibly, with an appreciation of innovation and translation pathways (for example of clinical trials, health economics and socio-technological contexts).
Proposals should link appropriately to relevant training programmes funded through routes other than the CDTs.
This is a joint priority area for EPSRC and MRC and co-funding may be available if appropriate.