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Research Centre for Biomedical Engineering

Creating biomedical technologies, from design to the patient.

The Research Centre for Biomedical Engineering (RCBE) offers world-class research in state-of-the-art laboratories where engineers, scientists and healthcare experts work together to develop new medical technologies to solve some of the most urgent and challenging problems in healthcare.

About the centre

The Research Centre for Biomedical Engineering (RCBE) at City, University of London was founded in the mid-90s with the aim of pursuing research in the emerging field of Biomedical Engineering, a discipline that applies the principles of physics and engineering to the complex medical devices used in the diagnosis and treatment of the sick and injured. The Centre occupies state of the art laboratories and has built a global reputation, offering world-class facilities and expertise to researchers and collaborators including scientists, engineers and clinicians from around the world. Working in close partnership with leading hospitals and healthcare technology companies, researchers in the Centre develop medical devices, biosensors, and signal and image processing techniques for applications across a wide range of medical specialities, addressing patients’ and societal needs including breakthroughs in diagnosis, monitoring, treatment and prevention of disease.

Our shared vision is to develop novel medical technologies to address some of the main challenges in global healthcare including;

  • the early non-invasive screening of cardiovascular diseases
  • non-invasive blood and tissue biochemistry
  • diagnostic and monitoring technologies in mental health
  • technologies for improved clinical monitoring and management of neurodegenerative conditions

Main Areas of Research

Click on the name of the area of research to learn more.

Biomedical optical sensing

The Biomedical Optical Sensing Group has over two decades of knowledge in the areas of tissue optics, haemodynamics, vascular mechanics, multi-wavelength photoplethysmography, static and dynamic spectrophotometry, in vitro modelling and chemometrics. This knowledge is applied to the design and development of novel optical sensors and medical instrumentation for use in a wide range of applications including pulse oximetry, tissue and organ perfusion, cerebral/muscle near infrared spectroscopy, tissue gas measurement and non-invasive monitoring of blood analytes and disease biomarkers.

The underpinning focus of the group’s activity is to elicit broad understanding of the physics of the light-tissue interaction applicable to optical path determination, spatial intensity distribution and propagation dynamics through biological tissue structures.   These models are validated by rigorous in vitro and in vivo experimental work using cardiovascular circuits and tissue phantoms to evaluate sensor designs. Specific areas of experimentation include evaluation and parametric characterisation of light sources, detectors, free optics and fibreoptic sensor systems, conventional spectroscopy studies on biomaterials, volumetric and directional photometry and spectrometry in scattering media.

The design of novel sensors for use in a wide range of applications is based on the data generated by these models.  Experimentation with novel optoelectronic materials enables technological advancements such as miniaturisation, reduced power consumption and improved biocompatibility of implantable sensors.  The advancements open new avenues of research and clinical application of non-invasive diagnostic technologies.

Optical and Impedance spectroscopy

The Optical Spectroscopy Group is devoted to understanding the optical properties of biological media and tissue, with the aim of developing the next generation of multi-wavelength optical sensors for biomedical applications. The laboratory houses various spectroscopic instruments and techniques to conduct such work. This includes sophisticated UV-Vis-NIR and FTIR, fluorescence and flame photometry instrumentation, whilst expert techniques include fibre optic handling and dip-coating, and micro-volume sampling.  The work carried out involves in vivo, in vitro and ex vivo testing of concentration, and identifies the spectroscopic ‘signatures’ of various gases and analytes of interest. This serves as the basis of biosensor design and development for physiological monitoring or disease diagnosis. Instrument and sensor evaluations are often carried out on human volunteers and through clinical trials.

The Impedance Spectroscopy Group carries out blood analysis research, mainly towards increasing sensitivity to small variations of analytes, such as lithium, which is used extensively by bipolar patients. Impedance instrumentation research includes the use of FEM simulations (COMSOL) for the design and assessment of electrode topologies and fluidic channel designs, as well as design of circuits for improved sensitivity, impedance range and frequency range in application-specific solutions. Some of the instrumentation includes analogue electronic circuit design for waveform generation and differential output ac current sources, as well as mixed-signal design for multi-electrode adjustable topologies. Combining both optical and impedance spectroscopy allows spectra to be ‘cross referenced’ to detect specific low-concentration analytes with unprecedented sensitivity.

Neural interfacing and Neuroprosthetics

The Neural interfacing and Neuroprosthetics Group exploits the electrical and other physical (e.g. thermal) properties of excitable and non-excitable tissues for the aim of developing integrated devices for targeted rehabilitation, with minimal side-effects.The aim is to develop a peripheral nerve stimulation method that will activate either exclusively sensory or exclusively motor neural pathways, using combined electrical and optical stimuli.

The motivation is to replace present stimulation techniques - which activate simultaneously sensory and motor nerve signals - with the proposed method, in order to eliminate related side-effects thus eventually allowing for its wider use in mainstream clinical practice for disease-specific and event-triggered therapeutic intervention in both chronic and intraoperative conditions.

The group also employs multi-electrode topologies and dedicated adjustable-waveform current injection electronics. Therapeutic effects of electrical stimulation in wound healing are also being researched using the knowledge and instrumentation developed for neural interfaces. This is done in conjunction with device miniaturisation through integrated circuit (IC) design in 0.35µm CMOS technology.

Biomedical signal and image processing

The Biomedical Signal and Image Processing Group works on establishing novel and sophisticated computational and mathematical tools to deal with challenging biomedical data sets, such multi-dimensional data sets, as well as to integrate information from multiple biomedical modalities at different scales, i.e. from macroscopic levels to microscopic levels like histopathology and biometrics.

The group also utilises advance linear and non-linear signal processing techniques such as Time-Frequency Distribution (TFD), Empirical Mode Decomposition (EMD) etc., to extract features from biosignals, such as Electrocardiograph (ECG), Photoplethysmograph (PPG), and Near-infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS), that will provide useful physiological information related to the haemodynamic and cardiovascular state of a person.

The image processing activities of the group utilise open-source software (www.phagosight.org) and on-line repositories of cancer image analysis (www.caiman.org.uk) to produce specialised algorithms, in particular: Segmentation and Tracking of Immune Cells, Measurement of Microvascular Permeability, Tissue Texture Segmentation and Classification, Feature Selection for Multidimensional Data Sets, automated segmentation of vasculature and stenosis grading, multi-scale reconstruction of Electrical Impedance Tomography images. The group also promotes soft field imaging modalities as an alternative to the use of ionising radiation through the development of a unified theoretical framework for the Forward and Inverse problems.

Biomedical Instrumentation

Design of biomedical instrumentation is at the heart of our research activities. Medical devices must meet exceptionally high standards of reliability and precision under demanding conditions.  They must also be ergonomic, intuitive and adhere to rigorous standards of patient safety, accuracy and quality control. Devices, such as patient monitoring systems, are sometimes custom-made for specific projects, or flexible multi-channel monitoring platforms may be adapted to a specific application.  Our medical instruments are designed using a ‘top-down’ approach, where the medical application and needs of the patient are considered from the earliest stages of the design process.  Discrete and integrated circuits, power supplies, interfaces and housings may be designed and fabricated in house.  Novel sensor technologies are designed in the Centre and where necessary are mass-produced by our industrial collaborators.

Research projects

Current Projects

Project Principal investigator(s)
Modelling of light tissue interactions in Photoplethysmography Dr J Phillips, Prof P Kyriacou Ms S Chatterjee
Image analysis for neutrophils and other cells Dr C Reyes-Aldasoro Mr J Solis-Lemus
Development and assessment of a novel intra-luminal sensor for monitoring intestinal viability in colorectal cancer surgery Prof P A Kyriacou Miss Z Patel
Development of a digital wearable multiwavelength photoplethysmograhic (PPG) system for the Investigation of muscle perfusion Prof P A Kyriacou Mr M Razban
Application of phononic crystals as liquid sensors Prof P Kyriacou (City University London); Prof R T Villa (Escuela de Ingeniería de Antioquia, Colombia) Mr S Villa
Non Invasive monitoring of Blood pressure utilizing the photoplethysmograph Prof P Kyriacou (City University London); Prof R T Villa (Escuela de Ingeniería de Antioquia, Colombia) Mr B Escobar
Blood flow phenomenon in arteries using coupled field analysis. Prof P A Kyriacou, Prof. R Pai B, Manipal University, India Mr N Kumar

Completed Projects

Project Principal investigator(s)
Photoplethysmography in the assessment of blood flow and vascular mechanics Prof P A Kyriacou Ms H Njoum
Personal Lithium Blood Level Analyser for patients with Bipolar Mood Disorder Prof P A Kyriacou Dr M Qassem, Dr L Constantinou
Non-invasive optical sensors for the monitoring of cerebral oxygenation and detection of Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy (HIE) in neonates Prof P A Kyriacou Dr J May
A non-invasive optical intracranial pressure monitoring system Dr J P Phillips Dr T Abay Ysehak
Spectrophotometric Techniques for the Assessment of Tissue Perfusion in Plastic Surgery Prof P A Kyriacou Dr T Abay Ysehak, Dr Tina Zaman, Dr M Hickey
An Intelligent Intervertebral Disc Prosthesis for the Assessment of Spinal Loading Prof P A Kyriacou Dr M Pancholi
NHS:My Care (Electronic Personalised Medical Records) Prof P A Kyriacou, Prof A Woodcock (Coventry University) Dr V Rybynok, Dr J Binnersley (Coventry University)
Fibre-optic Sensor for Measuring Splanchnic Blood Perfusion Prof P A Kyriacou Dr M Hickey
Novel oesophageal blood oxygen sensors in adult and neonatal monitoring Prof P Kyriacou Dr J May
In vivo and in vitro investigations of skin hydration and barrier function using Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) Prof P A Kyriacou Dr M Qassem
Optical imaging and optical spectroscopy investigating Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in neonates Professor P Kyriacou  
Optical sensors for continuous monitoring of cerebrospinal fluid pulsations in neonatal hydrocephalus Prof P Kyriacou, Dr M Hickey
Reflectance Photoplethysmography as Noninvasive Monitoring of Tissue Blood Perfusion Prof P Kyriacou T Y Abay
Evaluation of a combined laser Doppler and photoplethysmographic system for intra-operative monitoring of bowel tissue viability Dr J P Phillips Dr Z Abdollahi
Development and evaluation of the 'Sensing ET Tube' for multi-parameter monitoring. Dr J P Phillips, Prof P Kyriacou Dr J May
Investigating the relations of the Photoplethysmogram with cardiovascular changes Dr J Phillips, Prof P Kyriacou Dr M Hickey
Assessment of splanchnic perfusion using an intra-luminal opto-electronic probe placed at the duodenum Prof P Kyriacou Dr C Gama, Dr A Belhaj
In vivo investigations of photoplethysmograms and arterial oxygen saturation from the auditory canal in conditions of compromised peripheral perfusion Prof P Kyriacou Mr K Budidha
An optical fibre system for monitoring blood oxygen saturation of brain tissue Dr J Phillips  
Advanced Photoplethysmographic Instrumentation: ZenPPG Dr V Rybynok, Prof P Kyriacou, Dr J Phillips, Dr M Hickey Mr K Budidha, Dr J May,
Optical assessment of spinal cord haemodynamics in animal models of spinal cord injury Dr J Phillips

Portrait of Justin Phillips

Justin Phillips

Potential research student projects

Potential Research Student Projects

PhD candidates carry out Biomedical Engineering research in the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering. Potential research student projects in the field of Biomedical Engineering are shown below, for more details, click on the name of the project. Find out more about applying to a research degree in this field.

Click on the project title for more information

Wearable sensors: Technologies for globalised healthy living and wellbeing

Professor P. A. Kyriacou

The vision of the proposed research programme lies in the design, development and implementation of non-invasive sensing technologies with wide applications, as will be described below, in both the clinical and the home setting. Such sensing technologies could be used for monitoring, prognostic (screening), diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.  The global sensors market is estimated at over $44billion and with sensors being integrated into an increasingly diverse array of applications, smaller, smarter, lighter and cheaper sensors have more growth potential. Modern applications of sensing systems require the establishment of reliable, low-power wireless networks of sensors which are data-centric, with sensor nodes communicating only when necessary to transport data.  The development of such technologies are in line with the strategic plan of NHS and other similar organisations, which is to drive the more mundane delivery of health care, outside the hospitals and in the community. Technologies for screening, monitoring, etc. will alleviate the congestion of health care centres and it will enable them to concentrate in critical care interventions. Recording of physiological and psychological variables in real-life conditions could be especially useful in management of chronic disorders or other health problems e.g. for high blood pressure, diabetes, anorexia nervosa, chronic pain or severe obesity, stress, epilepsy, depression and many others.

Point-of-care non-invasive blood and tissue biochemistry

Professor P. A. Kyriacou, Dr J. Phillips, Dr I. Triantis, Dr M. Hickey

The focus of this project is to develop non-invasive optical rapid measurements and/or continuous monitoring of biological variables currently only measurable via blood samples or invasive techniques (i.e. concentrations of chromophores, gases, hormones, ionic salts, enzymes, lipids, and other biomarkers relating to organ function, stress, mood disorders, etc., within biological tissues and blood). This will be made possible by applying optical and electrical impedance spectroscopic techniques.

Non-invasive screening of cardiovascular diseases

Professor P. A. Kyriacou, Dr J. Phillips, Dr I. Triantis, Dr M. Hickey

The main objectives of this project are to develop multi-parameter sensors, and signal processing techniques for the non-invasive and continuous mapping of physiological and haemodynamic parameters. The output will be the non-invasive screening of pathologies relating to cardiovascular diseases (peripheral vascular (artery/vein) disease, lower limb claudication, atherosclerosis, carotid artery disease, hypertension, stroke, etc.). Some of the targeted parameters will be pulse transit time (PTT), pulse wave velocity (PWV), blood flow, blood volume, arterial and venous oxygen saturation, blood pressure, etc.

Point-of-care diagnostic and monitoring technologies in mental health

Professor P. A. Kyriacou, Dr J. Phillips, Dr I. Triantis, Dr M. Hickey

This work proposes the development of new sensitive and accurate point-of-care (POC) diagnostic and monitoring portable devices for use by mood disorder patients at home. These technologies will allow for the quantification of (a) pharmaceutical blood levels ensuring that patients maintain a therapeutic state and are not at danger of toxicity-related complications, and (b) stress biomarkers which correlate with possible depressive relapses in mood disorder patients, allowing for timely intervention. An inter-disciplinary team with expertise in MEMS, biomedical sensors, biochemistry and psychopharmacology has been established to provide these solutions. The POC devices will include miniaturised sensor platforms for depositing drops of blood/saliva, optical and electrical impedance sensors to interrogate the sample, portable instrumentation, and algorithms to rapidly determine concentration levels. Such devices will have a significant impact on clinical decisions and health outcomes for mood disorder patients.

Sensing for diagnosis of dementia

Professor P. A. Kyriacou, Dr J. Phillips, Dr M. Hickey

This project supports fundamental research in sensing targeted specifically at the diagnosis of dementias and the quantitative measurement of disease progression. The aim is to deliver non-invasive and cost effective solutions with applications making a clear contribution to one or more of the following:

  • Technologies/techniques which more accurately and easily differentiate dementia sub-types. Applications which focus on prodromal, presymptomatic stages of the disease are particularly welcomed.
  • Technologies/techniques which enable quantitative measurement of disease progression of dementia.

Central nervous system addressing through peripheral neural pathways

Dr I. Triantis

Develop peripheral nervous system implants that will utilise sensory neural pathways as probes into the brain and the spinal cord, while minimising the effects on the periphery. Examples include Vagus nerve stimulators that can be used for a range of diseases including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, depression and Parkinson’s disease. The methods developed will have a range of benefits, from the neuroscience perspective, gaining invaluable insights into the neural pathways that provide access to deep brain structures; to clinical practices, where signals from the brain are used as triggers for preventive stimulation providing fully automated symptom suppression.

Technological solutions in wound healing

Dr I. Triantis, Professor P. A. Kyriacou

Rapid healing of wounds, including those that relate to surgery or injury, as well as those that occur due to a disease, e.g. diabetic ulcers. The benefits will be enormous both for patients and for the health system, by respectively reducing mortality and infection and reducing the time of hospitalisation and the enormous use of resources necessary for conventional treatment. Application specific optical spectroscopy and electrical stimulation will be utilised in combination with “smart” dressings that will feature embedded miniaturised multi-modal sensors for real time monitoring of the condition of the wound.

Advanced biosignal analysis from multiparameter physiological dataset

Professor P. A. Kyriacou

The recent advancements in physiological sensors (optical and electrical) have enabled the acquisition of physiological data non-invasively which was not possible in the past. With the help of such a multiparameter dataset it might be possible, utilising advance linear and non-linear signal processing techniques such as Time-Frequency Distribution (TFD), Empirical Mode Decomposition (EMD) etc., to extract features that will provide useful physiological information related to the haemodynamic and cardiovascular state of a person. The combined information obtained from different non-invasive modalities such as Electrocardiograph (ECG), Respiration, Photoplethysmograph (PPG), Blood pressure (BP) and Near-infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) can be beneficial and has a significant impact in various fields such as anaesthesia management, paediatric care and sports medicine. This work is in collaboration with national and international partners including St Bartholomew’s Hospital, The Royal London Hospital, Great Ormond street hospital for Children and Yale School of medicine.

Immunohistochemistry of Brain Tumours

Dr Constantino Carlos Reyes-Aldasoro

Abnormal growth of cells inside the brain is relatively rare, but serious and life threatening when it leads to brain tumours. Recent research has shown that certain features of certain tumours are probably important in predicting their response to treatment, but the relationship between the different features is so complicated that this information cannot yet be used to help patients. This multidisciplinary proposal will investigate in detail how various characteristics of brain tumours impact on patient outcome. The aims of this project are to obtain quantitative measurements from the images of tumour specimens and evaluate which measurements, or sets of measurements, correlate best with patient outcomes such as life expectancy and response to treatment.

This project requires programming image analysis algorithms in Matlab to segment the different cells in tumours stained by immunohistochemical techniques. The ideal student should have good programming skills in Matlab, should have a good knowledge of image analysis and interest in biomedical imaging.  Previous biological knowledge is not required but an interest to learn is essential.

Analysis of Bees' behaviour

Dr Constantino Carlos Reyes-Aldasoro

This project is a collaboration with the laboratory of social insects of the University of Sussex (http://www.sussex.ac.uk/lasi). The aims of this project are to extract information regarding the complex behaviour of bees from their movements from videos, in order to do that it is necessary to develop segmentation and tracking algorithms. This is a very challenging problem as the images of the bees are complex and difficult to analysed through algorithms. This project requires programming image analysis algorithms in Matlab to segment and track the movements of the Bees. The ideal student should have good programming skills in Matlab, should have a good knowledge of image analysis and interest in biomedical imaging.

For more information, including how to apply, please see the research degree course page for the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering.

Portrait of Iasonas Triantis

Dr Iasonas Triantis



Members of RCBE have authored and co-authored over 500 publications in high impact engineering, science and clinical journals, prestigious international conferences, invited chapters in books, books and monographs. On average, 10 papers per year are presented at the main IEEE conferences and some clinical conferences. A selective group of conferences that the centre makes a significant contribution are: IEEE EMBC, IEEE Sensors, IEEE International Symposium in Biomedical Imaging, IEEE International Conference in Image Processing, IEEE Biomedical Circuits and Systems, Annual International Conference on Cardiology & Cardiovascular Medicine Research, and World Congress of Cardiology. Members of the Centre also currently hold several patents with inventions in the area of Biomedical Instrumentation and Optical Biomedical Sensors.

Up-to-date list of publications

Qassem, M. and Kyriacou, P. A. Review of Modern Techniques for the Assessment of Skin Hydration. Cosmetics, 6(1), 19.. doi: 10.3390/cosmetics6010019

  • Professor Panicos Kyriacou t: +44 (0)20 7040 8131
    Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB