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Epigem issues blood challenge to Durham University Students

Epigem, a high-tech British micro engineering company, has issued a blood challenge to students from the Durham University-led SOFI CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training in Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces).

Dr Tim Ryan, Epigem’s Managing Director, and Niamh Kilcawley, Epigem’s Marie Słodowska-Curie Fellow and Early Stage Researcher, presented the problems to the students on the 7th of November 2016. This is part of Niamh’s work into developing microfluidic devices for the diagnoses of rare anaemic conditions, such as sickle cell anaemia and thalassemia.

Epigem and Durham University have a long-standing relationship and this latest stage will contribute to Epigem’s work in RELEVANCE, an EU-backed project which will improve prognostic, diagnostic and therapeutic approaches on red blood cells production, function, and clearance.

Epigem is a polymer micro engineering company specialising in the life sciences, development and manufacture of microfluidic devices, micro optical components and film processed printed electronics. It has strong contacts with universities across the north east of England, such as Northumbria and Durham.

Epigem’s work on EU programmes RELEVANCE and COMMITMENT, and collaboration with the SOFI CDT is providing the CDT students (comprising physicists, chemists and mathematicians) with an early opportunity to learn how to undertake research in multi-disciplinary, complex problem-solving teams. The students are gaining an appreciation of how industry operates, from the perspective of both small companies such as Epigem, and larger companies which are sponsoring SOFI.

Dr Ryan said: “Few students have an opportunity to make a difference to the lives of millions of people. However, this project will contribute to helping patients with, for example, rare anaemias, and I’m sure the students will make a real difference.”

Professor Lian Hutchings “This is a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with a local company, provide the CDT students with first-class training and at the same time gain a better understanding of the needs of industry. Epigem is a truly innovative company and our links with it are generating powerful outcomes.”

SOFI CDT is a £10 million collaboration between Durham University and the Universities of Leeds and Edinburgh, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), each of the Universities and a consortium of industrial partners, with the aim of training the next generation of scientific leaders for high impact industrial careers. For further information visit


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