Helping newborns in the delivery room

Posted on: 10/5/2016
Helping newborns in the delivery room

Prestigious prize awarded for young biomedical researcher in the region

A young engineer at The University of Nottingham has been recognised for his outstanding work to help newborn babies in their first minutes of life.

Dr Mark Grubb has been awarded the 2016 JA Lodge Award, a prestigious prize given to the nation’s most promising early-career researchers in the field of biomedical engineering.

The award, given by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), recognises Dr Grubb’s ground-breaking research to develop a new heart rate monitor to support the resuscitation of newborn babies in the delivery room.

Newborn resuscitation is a common medical procedure with an estimated 70,000 newborns — 10 per cent of births in the UK — resuscitated each year. Continuous heart rate monitoring has the potential to improve the care of newborn babies who need this treatment.

The heart rate monitor developed by Dr Grubb uses a small optical sensor attached to the baby’s hat. The hat, worn to retain heat, illuminates the forehead with a special light. The light interacts with blood in the baby’s skin, from which the baby’s heart rate can be detected. The device then measures the ‘returning’ signal and gives a real-time readout of the baby’s heart beat.

Dr Grubb said: “I’m fortunate to work with a dedicated team that also includes nurses and doctors from the Nottingham University Hospital. This award highlights the important role played by electronic engineers in these modern multidisciplinary teams.”

Dr Grubb was awarded his PhD in 2015 and is an electronic engineer in the early stages of a successful career in biomedical engineering. He is currently a research fellow in the Electrical Systems and Optics Research Division at The University of Nottingham.

His work on the heart rate monitor has embraced a collaborative approach, particularly with the University’s Technology Transfer Office and Dr George Rice, who leads the Technology Demonstrator facility on Jubilee Campus where new inventions can be seen in action.

Professor Barrie Hayes-Gill, Professor of Electronic Systems and Medical Devices at The University of Nottingham, said: “A considerable volume of research, funding and public output has been generated from Mark’s work. Certainly, without his strong commitment, skill, and motivation as an engineer and researcher, this would not have been possible.

“The Electrical Systems and Optics Research Division is world-leading in the application of optical and instrumentation engineering to the medical sciences, much of this work is multidisciplinary in nature. Mark’s work is an excellent example of this collaborative approach.

“It is his ability to appreciate and engage with all aspects of medical device innovation that has successfully moved this technology from the research laboratory to a clinical protoype that has so far been piloted on over 100 patients in the neonatal unit and delivery room, at two Nottingham hospitals.”

The award was presented at the annual IET Healthcare Technologies Lecture in London. It is given by the IET once a year, to recognise outstanding research and development work in the field of biomedical engineering, in memory of James Alec Lodge.

Dr Grubb was one of only 50 early career engineering researchers invited to the Houses of Parliament, by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, to present to MPs at the ‘SET for Britain 2016’ exhibition earlier this year. The potential impact of his research was also recognised by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), who featured it as a case study in their ‘Impact’ campaign.

The University of Nottingham has a broad research portfolio but has also identified and badged 13 research priority groups, in which a concentration of expertise, collaboration and resources create significant critical mass.

Key research areas at Nottingham include biomedical imaging, energy, drug discovery, global food security, advanced manufacturing, integrating global society, operations in a digital world, and science, technology & society.



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