Public Release: 

£5.4 million for research to discover next-generation biomaterials

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

A new £5.4 million grant for research aimed at accelerating the discovery and application of new advanced materials in healthcare was announced today by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The grant, awarded to Professor Morgan Alexander at the University of Nottingham, will support a programme, Next Generation Biomaterials Discovery.

Professor Alexander will head a multidisciplinary team spanning Engineering, Science and Medical faculties at Nottingham that will collaborate with leading international groups to realise the vision of materials discovery in 3D, while aiming to keep the UK ahead in the global materials competition. The University of Nottingham has also committed a £1.1 million contribution to the research.

Professor Alexander said: "Advanced biomaterials are essential components in targeting infectious diseases and cancers, realising the potential of regenerative medicine and the medical devices of the future.

"We aim to move beyond the existing limited range of generic bioresorbable polymeric drug and cell delivery agents to bespoke materials identified to function for specific applications."

Defining the chemistry, stiffness, topography and shape of materials can control the response of cells to them. The programme at Nottingham will focus on producing and testing large libraries of these attributes in the form of patterned surfaces, particles and more complex architectures. New materials will be identified for application in the areas of targeted drug delivery, regenerative medicine and advanced materials for next generation medical devices.

The team will also investigate and develop materials that can work around the abilities of bacteria and microbes to sense and signal to each other. This could have application in the field of antimicrobial resistance.

Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman said: "From regenerative medicine through to the next generation of cutting-edge medical devices, biomaterials will be essential components of 21st Century healthcare. This £5.4 million government investment will help researchers at the University of Nottingham to develop ground breaking new techniques that will speed up the discovery and application of these increasingly important materials."

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive, said: "The development of new advanced materials is vital to extending our capabilities across a wide range of scientific disciplines. The work planned as part of this programme grant promises to find new materials that will have many applications in the healthcare sector. This grant will support some of the UK's talented scientists and help achieve EPSRC's vision to make the UK the best place in the world to research, discover and innovate."

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For further information please contact the EPSRC Press Office on 01793 444 404 or email pressoffice@epsrc.ac.uk

Notes for Editors:

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate.

By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture.

We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. http://www.epsrc.ac.uk

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