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Faculty of Engineering

Royal honour

Published Wednesday 29 February 2012

University Chancellor Lord Bragg, Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor John Fisher University Chancellor Lord Bragg, Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor John Fisher have visited Buckingham Palace to receive the Queen’s Anniversary Prize.

They were accompanied by postgraduate students and research assistants from the University's institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (iMBE), which was awarded the Prize. iMBE is the UK's leading bioengineering research institution and has pioneered research into joint replacements, spinal interventions and tissue engineering and has created new products and therapies which are in use by surgeons in clinics and hospitals around the world:

  • Tens of thousands of people have received improved joint replacements based on this research;
  • Its unique valve replacement technology has given a new lease of life to patients who were suffering chronic heart conditions;
  • It has pioneered regenerative biological scaffolds for vascular repair.

Building on this platform of excellence, the Institute is determined to push back the boundaries of this research, create new therapies to replace damaged tissues in further areas of the body and enable surgeons to perform longer-lasting orthopaedic reconstruction. IMBE is led by Professors John Fisher and Eileen Ingham.

Professor Fisher said: "We are absolutely delighted. This is recognition for the hard work of a lot of people - and of the fact that we are taking this work forward into the future. Our objective is to improve the quality of life of people as they age by focussing upon the research, development and translation of practical medical engineering interventions. We are driven by the conviction that, with the right medical and biological interventions, the goal of fifty active years after the age of fifty is within reach."

A major focus for iMBE in the years ahead will be on early interventions to address the global burden of osteoarthritis which is predicted to be the fourth leading cause of disability in the world by 2020.

Professor Fisher added: "We can't live forever of course. Our work is about enabling people to enjoy their old age more actively, but of course by staying active, people are also reducing their risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity - all of them potential killers."

The Institute is committed to continuing its work into the future. It is a key partner in a £10m Doctoral Training Centre, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. This will support the training of 50 PhD studentships by 2015, attracting the best postgraduates from around the world and developing the next generation of researchers in medical and biological engineering who will ensure that this vital work remains on an upward trajectory.

The Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education, awarded every two years, are part of the UK honours system, and promote world class excellence in UK universities and colleges. This is the second such award to the University of Leeds, whose Institute for Transport Studies was a winner in 2010.

Image credit: Theodore Wood Photography

Notes to editors:

1. The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed Leeds to be the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse. Leeds was shortlisted for the University of the Year award in the Sunday Times University Guide 2011 and the National Student Survey (NSS) 2011 found that 86% of final year students are satisfied with their experience at Leeds - up from 82% last year. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015. www.leeds.ac.uk

2. The Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (iMBE) brings together colleagues from the faculties of medicine and health, biological sciences and engineering, Their purpose is to deliver pioneering multidisciplinary research and education in the fields of medical devices and regenerative medicine, underpinned by innovation and translation of novel therapies, focusing on the treatment of orthopaedic and cardiovascular diseases and disabilities, to advance patient healthcare and quality of life. Funded by a range of public and private grants, including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Technology Strategy Board, the National Institute for Health Research and European Research Council, iMBE has a strong track record in innovation and translation working in partnership with a range of external organisations including NHS Blood and Transplant Tissue Service, University spin out Tissue Regenix Group, SMEs such as Simulation Solutions Ltd and major healthcare providers such as DePuy a Johnson and Johnson company. iMBE is developing replacement tissue products and the next generation of joint replacements which will offer "fifty active years after fifty" - and enable each of us to enjoy our longer lives in the best possible health. www.imbe.leeds.ac.uk

3. John Fisher CBE is Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds and Director of the Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He has been with the University for 23 years and the revolutionary ceramic-on-metal hip replacement which he invented is already given a new lease of life to thousands of people around the world. He received the CBE for his services to medical engineering in 2010.

4. Eileen Ingham has spent her 30-year academic career at the University, the last 10 as Professor of Medical Immunology. She has developed a unique method of removing living cells from human and animal tissue to create a scaffold, which can then be repopulated with cells to create living tissue within a patient's body as an implant or in the laboratory. Already used successfully in the creation of replacement heart valves, it has the further potential to regenerate ligaments and blood vessels.

5. The Royal Anniversary Trust is an independent charity - registered number 1,000,000 - concerned with the advancement of education for public benefit. It was set up in 1990 with the object of carrying out a programme of events and activities during 1992, funded and supported from private sources with official endorsement, to mark the 40th anniversary of The Queen's accession and her years of service as Head of State. The Trust currently works to promote world class excellence in UK universities and colleges through The Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education.

6. The Queen's Anniversary Prizes are a biennial award scheme which is within the UK's national honours system. As such they are the UK's most prestigious form of national recognition open to a UK academic or vocational institution. The honour is distinctive in recognising the institution rather than an individual or team. The scheme was established in 1993 with the approval of The Queen and all-party support in Parliament. All eligible universities and colleges in the UK are invited to enter the biennial rounds of the scheme. The assessment process is overseen by the Awards Council of the Trust which makes the final recommendations which are submitted to the Prime Minister for advice to The Queen. www.royalanniversarytrust.org.uk/