International lecture series provides platform for biomedical engineering collaboration in India

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) Office in India, UK Science and Innovation Network and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) recently staged a high-profile lecture series which was delivered throughout India. Speakers included: the Rt. Hon Lord Peter Mandelson, when Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills; Professor Alison Richard, the 344th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and Professor Lionel Tarassenko, Director of the Department of Engineering Science’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering.

Professor Lionel TarassenkoThe lecture series linked cutting-edge research undertaken by UK academics to the challenges facing the world today - from water security to innovations in healthcare. It provided an international platform to examine areas of collaboration with Indian institutions.

Professor Tarassenko gave lectures on 'mHealth for the management of chronic diseases' and on 'monitoring high-integrity systems (jet engines and in-hospital patients)' at IISc (Bangalore), IIT-Mumbai and IIT-Chennai. He stressed that in a country, such as India, with an increasing number of mobile phone users, mHealth (the use of mobile phones for delivery of healthcare) could have a significant impact.

Professor Tarassenko spoke of the potential of the mobile phone for managing chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, asthma, and diabetes. He highlighted that it was a cost-effective way to improve treatment outcomes without substantially increasing resources. Patients can take readings of their blood pressure or sugar levels, for example, and send them through the phone to a hospital server which provides feedback to doctors.

Biomedical engineering, which is really the application of engineering technology to medicine, is just beginning to take off in India. Maybe in the U.K., we are 5-10 years ahead - but in some places, given India's advantage with technology, people are quickly catching up. In developing countries, there is an increasing focus on the mobile phone, since nearly everybody has a mobile phone,” he explained.

Professor Tarassenko added: "Validated by more than 20 clinical trials, the mHealth technology developed in Oxford has demonstrated improved patient outcomes and reduced healthcare costs, by helping to keep patients out of hospital.

As part of the Indo-UK dialogue, Professor Tarassenko discussed the specific requirements of India for mHealth, with a view to collaborating with such centres of excellence as IISc, IIT-Chennai and IIT-Mumbai.

Acknowledgements: “The Hindu”; “The Times of India”; “Hindustan Times”.