University College Dublin Partnering in New €8.2 million Cross Border Research Centre to Improve Cardiovascular Care

-      The EU funded Centre led by Ulster University will transform cardiac care by developing new models of care, smart wearable technologies and improved patient monitoring systems

The Eastern Corridor Medical Engineering Centre (ECME), a cross border centre of research excellence within the field of cardiovascular medicine, with partners in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland was launched today at Ulster University.

The centre has received €8.2 million in funding from the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

ECME is a partnership between Ulster University, which is leading the Centre, and University College Dublin, Dublin City University, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Southern Health and Social Care Trust Cardiac Research Unit and the University of Highlands and Islands.

ECME Launch Ulster University
Members of the ECME research partnership including UCD's Professor Brian Caulfield, (3rd from the left) pictured at the Centre launch at Ulster University

Cardiovascular (heart and circulatory) disease causes more than a quarter (26%) of all deaths in the UK; that’s nearly 160,000 deaths each year, an average of 435 people each day or one death every three minutes, and in the Republic of Ireland this figure is slightly higher at around 30%.

ECME will see researchers from academia and industry collaborate with partners in the health and social care system to create better models of heart disease care and develop new medical grade wearables and remote monitoring systems to improve clinical outcomes and patient experience.

Innovative medical technology has the potential to alleviate some of the current pressures facing our healthcare system. As waiting lists grow and the demand for hospital beds increases, medical technologies such as smart wearables, user-ready sensor technology and patient monitoring systems can improve diagnostics and patient outcomes and enable patients to live independently.

As well as having a significant impact on health and social care, economic benefits will also follow from the partnership. Working closely with industry and health care professionals, ECME will bring new and innovative products to the market.

Professor Jim McLaughlin, Director, Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre (NIBEC), Ulster University said, “Ulster University has established itself as a global leader in both data analytics, artificial intellegence and medical related research. An integral part of our Health Technology Hub, this partnership will create better models for cardiac care through research and the development of generic solutions within the growing patient monitoring market.”

“Working with our project partners we will develop a cardiac data database to collate and analyse patient information from across the region and better inform decision making at both a clinical and policy level.”

“Wearable technologies and remote monitoring systems have the potential to transform cardiac care. Smart technologies are helping to move care out of hospital and into the home, reducing pressure on the healthcare system. Our researchers will work to improve existing sensor technologies, point of care diagnostics and monitoring systems to improve clinical outcomes, free up hospital beds, predict patient needs and grow patient confidence and satisfaction.”

“This partnership is an excellent example of industry, academia and healthcare joining forces to transform patient care and clinical outcomes.”

UCD’s Dean of Physiotherapy, Professor Brian Caulfield, a researcher in the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, a Director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics and an ECME principal investigator said, “The Insight Centre for Data Analytics at UCD is delighted to be part of the ground-breaking ECME research programme launched today which we believe will make a significant impact on the use of technology advances in the management of cardiac disease.” 

He added, “At UCD and the at the UCD Beacon Hospital Academy we are combining expertise in artificial intelligence, data mining, human computer interaction, wearable sensors and clinical research to explore the role that patient generated data can have in driving an enhanced understanding of heart failure and promotion of self-management strategies.”

He concluded, “We are delighted to be collaborating with Dr David Burke from the Cardiology Department in Beacon Hospital on this research programme and are also excited by the many synergies that we see across the ECME network.”

Gina McIntyre, CEO, Special EU Programmes Body said, “This is a project which has the potential to positively transform the lives of thousands of people and their families across Northern Ireland, the border region of Ireland and Western Scotland. By increasing the levels of cross-border Research and Innovation within the Health & Life Sciences sector, there is the opportunity to create a strong economic impact, and this is one of the core objectives of the INTERREG VA Programme.”

“This project has great potential and will have a highly significant impact upon how cardiovascular disease is treated on a cross-border basis.”

David McEneaney MD, Consultant Cardiologist, Southern Health & Social Care Trust said, “We are excited about the potential impact that the research generated by the ECME project could have on patient outcomes.  There have been many innovations in recent  years which have transformed how we treat patients and we believe this project will further enhance the well established research collaboration between Craigavon Cardiovascular Research Unit and the academic partners.”

In addition to Professor Caulfield the other UCD researchers who will be taking part in the ECME research programme are; Professor Brian MacNamee, Dr David Coyle and Professor Tahar Kechadi, UCD School of Computer Science and the Insight Centre for Data Analytics.

22 January 2018

For further information contact Lee Campbell, Ulster University, Communications Team: e: or Micéal Whelan, Public Affairs Manager, UCD Research and Innovation, e:, t: +353 1 716 4003.

Editors Notes

ECME’s focus is to, develop a cardiac big database within the region; enhance user ready sensor technology; improve smart wearables; reduce the complexity and cumbersomeness of point of care diagnostics and improve smart clinically relevant monitoring in the assisted living and rehabilitation environments.