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The benefits of applying technological know how to patient care were demonstrated by Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Imperial College London yesterday
The benefits of applying technological know how to patient care were demonstrated by Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Imperial College London yesterday.
Imperial's Rector, Sir Richard Sykes, and Professor of Surgery and Department of Health Parliamentary Under Secretary, Lord Darzi, took the PM on a tour of the College's newly launched Institute of Biomedical Engineering.
The Institute is at the forefront of medical innovation, drawing together scientists, clinicians and engineers for research focussed on technologies in systems biology, materials, imaging, nanotechnology, bionics, biomechanics and tissue engineering.
During the tour, the PM took a special interest in the virtual operating theatre used for cardiac micro surgery in the Medical Imaging and Robotics Room.
The College's Director of Medical Imaging, Professor Guang-Zhong Yang, discussed the potential advantages and applications of robotic surgical devices, such as the Da Vinci robot, whilst Lord Darzi, carried out a virtual medical procedure in front of Mr Brown.
With the aid of 3D vision, the robotic arms are manipulated remotely by a control pad and joystick, allowing surgeons to perform intricate surgical procedures with greatly enhanced vision, dexterity, precision and control.
The DaVinci robot is especially important for minimal invasive surgery - an area pioneered by Lord Darzi. Surgeons can operate through tiny incisions, which have less health impacts on patients and help to speed up recovery time.
Explaining the benefits of robotic surgical technology Professor Yang said:
"Minimal access surgery reduces the impact trauma of an operation on patients but it requires pinpoint accuracy and a very steady hand. Enabling the surgeon to operate via a robot represents the perfect marriage of human skill with technological advances in biomedical engineering."
Speaking about the important role that organisations like the Institute of Biomedical Engineering plays in healthcare innovation, Imperial's Rector Sir Richard Sykes said:
"Institutes like this, which see scientists and medics of many different specialisms working side by side, are where the major improvements in patient care and quality of life are being made. It's greatly encouraging that the Prime Minister recognises that and wants to see for himself what Imperial is doing to make the vital breakthroughs that will transform healthcare for everyone."
This was the first visit by Mr Brown to a UK university since becoming Prime Minister. His visit follows the launch on Monday 1 October of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, formed through the merger of Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust and St Mary's NHS Trust and integration with Imperial College, to become the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre. Professor Stephen Smith, Chief Executive of the new Trust and Principal of Imperial's Faculty of Medicine, also met Mr Brown.
About Imperial College London
Imperial College London - rated as the world’s ninth best university in the 2006 Times Higher Education Supplement University Rankings - is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 11,500 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality.
Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.
With 66 Fellows of the Royal Society among our current academic staff and distinguished past members of the College including 14 Nobel Laureates and two Fields Medallists, Imperial's contribution to society has been immense. Inventions and innovations include the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of our research for the benefit of all continues today with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to tackle climate change and mathematical modelling to predict and control the spread of infectious diseases.
The College's 100 years of living science will be celebrated throughout 2007 with a range of events to mark the Centenary of the signing of Imperial's founding charter on 8 July 1907.
About the Institute of Biomedical Engineering
The Institute of biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London draws together engineers and medical researchers and clinicians from across Imperial to transform methods of medical diagnosis and treatment. Current research includes retinal implants that will restore sight by stimulating the cells in the eye that receive visual information, and the development of tiny implantable wireless blood pressure monitors, aimed at giving patients greater freedom of movement.
More information is available at http://www.imperial.ac.uk/biomedeng
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