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i-sense Q&A series: Innovation during the pandemic

Home > I Sense Qa Series Innovation During Pandemic

This i-sense virtual Q&A series highlights topics related to infectious disease outbreaks preparedness and response – focusing on what we have learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, what we need to do to ensure we are ready to respond to the next infectious disease outbreak, and how we can better protect our population and healthcare systems now and in the future.

Each month we will explore different themes related to developing tools and technologies to track, test and treat infectious diseases. As preparing for and responding to an outbreak is a collaborative effort, we’ll gain perspective from experts in academia, government and policy, healthcare, and industry.

This month we will be exploring the topic 'Innovation during the pandemic'


Wednesday, 21 July 2021

13.30 – 14.15 GMT

Joining via Zoom

Meeting ID: 934 9737 9643

Register via Eventbrite

Our panel members

Prof Rebecca Shipley
Prof of Healthcare Engineering, Director, UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering, and Vice Dean (Healthcare), UCL Mechanical Engineering

Rebecca Shipley is Professor of Healthcare Engineering at UCL, and Director of the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering. Her research interests lie in mathematical and computational modelling in medicine and biology. Her work encompasses multidisciplinary approaches which integrate data from biological experiments, imaging and clinical sources, and she works in application areas spanning cancer, tissue engineering, and human physiology. She co-founded the UCL Centre for Nerve Engineering, which brings together physical, engineering, life and clinical scientists to tackle nerve injury repair. Her research has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Rosetrees Trust Interdisciplinary Prize 2016 for research at the interface of mathematics, computer science and medicine.

In 2020, Becky co-led the UCL-Ventura programme to manufacture non-invasive breathing aids at scale for treating COVID-19 patients, both within the National Health Service in the UK and globally. The consortium of academia, healthcare and industry partners included UCL, University College London Hospital and Mercedes AMG HPP. They reverse-engineered an off-patent device, optimised its design and secured regulatory approval within 2 weeks, manufacturing 10,000 devices for the UK. The design and manufacturing instructions have been made available globally at no cost, and the Venturas are now in use in hospitals in at least 15 countries. The team was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering President’s Special Awards for Pandemic Service in 2020 and the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Awards 2020: Acute Sector Innovation of the Year. Becky was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours (2021).

In her role as Director of the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering, Becky coordinates interdisciplinary research activities within healthcare engineering across UCL Engineering, School of Life and Medical Sciences, and the hospitals within the UCL Partners academic health system. She is also Non-Executive Director at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust.

Prof Alex Dickinson
Associate Prof at the Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Southampton

Alex built and leads a research team who work on data technologies to enhance the design and assessment of prosthetics and orthotics (P&O), and runs a Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project with partners at Exceed Worldwide (Cambodia) and the University of Salford investigating how digital assessment and design technologies might help enhance access to P&O services in lower and middle income countries.

In March 2020 Alex joined a small team which developed the PeRSo respirator to protect healthcare workers as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. With local SME collaboration over 10,000 respirators were provided to staff in more than 20 NHS trusts across the country, and the team published the PeRSo design specification and released the designs open source, recognising that healthcare workers are likely to need enhanced respiratory protection for some time, especially in low resourced settings.

Prof Ingemar Cox
Deputy Director of the EPSRC IRC and Chair of Telecommunications, UCL Dept of Computer Science

At i-sense, Ingemar is responsible for influenza surveillance and detection. His current research is in the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and statistical natural language processing (NLP) to large data sets of digital footprints, e.g. Web query logs and Twitter, to infer information about the health of both individuals and populations. At a population level, his teams has estimated prevalence and virulence of a disease, and effectiveness of national public health interventions (vaccines and changes to law). Their software and algorithms for estimating the prevalence of influenza have been adopted by Public Health England as part of its influenza surveillance programme. Their models for COVID-19 prevalence and sub-national anomaly detection have been adopted by Public Health England.

How the Q&A will work

  • It’s free to join and open to everyone
  • We’ll be taking questions in the Zoom chat, or you can submit questions in advance to 
  • The Q&A will run strictly to time, but we will try get to as many questions as possible in that time

Get involved 

If you have suggestions of topics you would like to explore in the future or questions you want answers, email them to

Instructions to join the virtual event

This event is hosted in a Zoom meeting by i-sense at UCL.

Please ensure that you are able to access Zoom on your device, this might require you to install the app.

Please note we are unable to offer technical support to participants.