Prof Patricia Connolly
2.02 WOLFSON BLDG
Tel : +44 (0)141 548 3034 (Ext. 3034)
- BTG Researcher Led Project - Encouraging rapid vessel healing following coronary stenting: a multidisciplinary approach (Principal investigator)
- GLASGOW HEALTH TECHNOLOGY COOPERATIVE (GHTC) (Principal investigator)
- KTA - Transdermal Patient Monitoring (Principal investigator)
- EPSRC Pump Priming Project: Realising the potential of Regenerative Medicine through the use of Intelligent Polymer Materials (Principal investigator)
- Integrated intelligent sensor system to enable built-in data monitoring of prosthetics and orthotics (Co-investigator)
- BTG- Researcher-led Project (Principal investigator)
- NON-INVASIVE WOUND AND WOUND DRESSING MONITOR (Principal investigator)
- MEDICAL DEVICES INITIATIVE (Principal investigator)
- Non-Invasive Consumer Health Evaluation (NICHE) (Project Weaver) (Principal investigator)
- Medical Devices Doctoral Training Centre Renewal (Principal investigator)
- Transdermal Patient Monitoring - SE Proof of Concept (Principal investigator)
Academic Interests and Background
BSc and PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Initial career in high voltage engineering but changed direction immediately after PhD to enter field of Bioelectronics. Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Strathclyde since April 1999.
For the seven years prior to this period I worked in the medical diagnostics industry in Italy ( Byk Gulden / Altana Pharma, Milan) and Switzerland ( Nycomed Amersham, Lausanne), directing industrial research and development and co-ordinating international project teams.
I have a number of research interests and industrial collaborations and balance my portfolio of research projects between basic and applied research related to medical diagnostics and medical devices. I am Director of both the EPSRC Medical Devices Doctoral Training Centre at the University and the Strathclyde Institute of Medical Devices.
My research interests can be divided into three categories :
- Cell & Tissue Engineering Sensors
- Point of Care Diagnostics
- Non-invasive Diagnostics
Cell & Tissue Engineering Sensors are used in my group for a variety of applications. The developments in the field of tissue engineering in particular are driving the use of sensors for monitoring tissue in the operating theatre and in the manufacturing environment. Biochemical sensors are being developed which will be used to monitor the status of tissue -engineered constructs. The ability to interrogate and analyse biological cells in a non-invasive manner through electrodes is a powerful and somewhat under exploited technique. Using extracellular electrodes it is possible to non-invasively monitor cell movement, adhesion and electrical activity both in vivo and in vitro.
Point of Care (POC) diagnostics is a style of medical analysis which allows diagnostic tests to be performed in a near-patient setting such as a hospital ward or clinic or in the patient's home. In its simplest form, POC technology seeks to give the clinician or patient on the spot answers to diagnostic questions which might be used to provide therapy or make lifestyle adjustments (as in glucose testing for diabetics). Many new POC systems rely on biosensor technology, which is another of my research interests. POC diagnostic devices are complex to research and develop and rely on multi-disciplinary teams which can cover biochemistry, engineering and device manufacture. There are many questions to be addressed before POC diagnosis becomes commonplace and opportunities exist for research into biosensor systems to be employed in this area .
Non-invasive Diagnostics will allow the patient or clinician to monitor key medical parameters without blood sampling. One technique for non-invasive sampling that we are using is reverse iontophoresis, which allows molecules and ions to be extracted from skin under the influence of an electric field. We have developed a new in vitro model for iontophoresis in human skin and a new portable and programmable iontophoresis instrument suitable for human use.
Research Project Examples
Fast-response diagnostic devices for patient monitoring The aim of the research is to create and study a range of new sensor devices capable of being employed in surgery or ITU for fast monitoring of critical patient parameters. In particular we are working on an electrochemical immunoassay system for use in cardiac surgery. Working with colleagues at the Hammersmith Hospital in London, we are adapting this system and studying it for the detection of IL-6, a marker of the inflammatory response in humans.
Reverse Iontophoresis System A reverse iontophoresis system has been developed to allow the study of electrical transport of molecules and ions through artificial membranes which mimic the properties of human skin. We have introduced a new iontophoresis model to study device characteristics and biosensor behaviour on a human skin polymer model and have created a new, programmable iontophoresis current source. Today we are concentrating our efforts on the simultaneous extraction of glucose and lactate from human subjects for applications in intensive therapy, vascular disease and plastic surgery. We have been supported in this work by the Canniesburn Research Trust.
Cell sensors for wound dressings We are utilising our planar electrode bioimpedance technique to develop a system for monitoring the growth and health of skin cells in vitro. This device can be used to study cellular adhesion to wound dressing materials and we have had useful support from Convatec (Bristol Myers Squibb) in this area.
Wound monitor A second aspect to our non-invasive diagnostics is a new approach that we have developed to monitoring the hydration status of wound dressings and wounds. We have developed (and have a patent pending) for a new wound bed model and hydration sensors to allow the continuous monitoring of moisture in dressings, or at the wound-dressing interface, something that has not been possible until the introduction of our technique. A system for clinical use is in an advanced stage of development, funded by Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept funds.
The Intelligent Stent Working with colleagues in Cardiovascular Research at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences and an NHS Cardiologist we have been developing a sensor technology capable of being embedded in a cardiac stent. We are using an in vitro model to show that this new approach could allow a cardiac stent to report to an external device to allow it to check for the occurrence of restenosis in the stent without the need for CT or MRI imaging. We have been supported in this work by a studentship from the Medical Devices Doctoral Training Centre, funded by the EPSRC Life Sciences Interface.