Dr. Hayaatun Sillem on Engineering Biology

Dr Hayaatun Sillem is Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering.  In 2019, the Financial Times named Dr Sillem the 4th most influential woman in UK engineering, and this year Computer Weekly ranked her the 7th most influential woman in tech.

She says of the future, “I think we’re on the brink of moving towards a much less siloed way of doing science and technology and research. What I’ve been super-excited by is engineering biology as an emerging set of disciplines, where you draw upon the power of IT”

Understanding human biology and managing illness

In 1960, Denis Noble developed a pioneering computer model of the working human heart using an “expensive and slow” mainframe computer, the Ferranti Mercury. Denis had to use it between 2am and 4am, at a time when there was little competition from other researchers.

His work enabled many further breakthroughs and his discovery that hardware and software could be used to simulate biological organs led to the hugely important discipline of systems biology.

Listen to Denis talking about his work then read the article here

Harnessing the power of AI in medical diagnosis

Professor Sir Michael Brady is a leading authority and businessman in AI and its use for medical diagnosis.  He was born in 1945 in Prescot, Lancashire and studied maths at the University of Manchester after grammar school.

Michael progressed his interest in AI as Associate Director of the AI Lab at MIT before returning to the UK and establishing a leading position for the University of Oxford in Robotics.  In 1990 his focus switched to the interpretation of medical diagnostic imaging, initially of mammograms and breast cancer, moving on to other organs and multi organ conditions, such as diabetes and Covid-19.

In 2019 Prof Brady told AIT about his career and in 2021 we returned to him to explore further how technology has enabled new medical techniques and the impact of those developments.

Read the Article from the interview here

Personal Medicine – technology that knows you have a problem before you do

Professor James McLaughlin OBE is the current director of the Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre at the University of Ulster, which emerged from the work of Prof John Anderson, described above.  Jim McLaughlin is working on portable / wearable diagnostic devices that will transform personal healthcare with automatic monitoring of heart rates, blood sugar levels and the like, reporting the results and triggering alerts over mobile . He worked on the team that developed the first external defibrillator and He holds over 30 patents including for the world’s best-selling disposable medical electrode. He has successfully co-founded a set of spin-off companies while raising over £100 million of research funding.

Read about Jim McLaughlin’s achievements here or listen to his view of future medicine below

In this video, Professor Peter Dobson OBE and Dr. Elisabetta Mori talk about Nano technology and the future of healthcare, as well as the technology behind mRNA vaccines and infectious disease detection, such as the COVID-19 tests developed in the 2020 pandemic.

People and machines working together

Kevin Warwick, Archives of IT

Kevin Warwick is a British engineer and Deputy Vice Chancellor (research) at Coventry University.  He is known for his studies on direct interfaces between computer systems and the human nervous system, and has also done work concerning robotics.  Kevin was the guinea-pig for the first microchip (Radio Frequency ID enabled) implant in a human body.

Kevin is currently focused on how computers can be used to support people suffering from Parkinson’s disease, inspired by his childhood experiences. He’s currently working with Professor Tipu Aziz, a consultant neurosurgeon at the John Radcliffe Hospital, to find ways of overcoming Parkinson’s disease through the use of AI such that a computer can predict and manage muscle tremors before they start. Kevin is also working on research into assisting people who are paralysed by rewiring the nervous system with micro-electronics supported by AI, thereby restoring their neuro-motor capability

A look to the future – risks and benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

For the future Kevin sees great potential and great risks for AI and robotics, on the one hand it has the potential to enhance human consciousness, to allow us to think and sense in new ways beyond the limitations of the human brain, on the down-side the risks of delegating too much control to AI systems are serious and very real, especially as AI becomes and robotics become part of the war-fighting capability of nations. He also sees a future where we can cure diseases such as schizophrenia or even the common headache with the use of embedded micro-electronics – he calls it electronic medicine.

Mischa Dohler is now Chief Architect in Ericsson Inc. in Silicon Valley, USA, having previously been Professor in Wireless Communications at King’s College London.

He looks forward to medicine developing with 6G and the Internet of Skills and beyond, enabling, for example, a surgeon in the USA to operate on a patient in Europe

He demonstrated the this potential using 5G communications to enable collaboration over the Internet in a real time musical duet with his daughter 1000 km away.  See them talking about the experience here.