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“Newcastle made me an expert”


“Newcastle made me an expert”

We talk to two experts who used knowledge they gained at Newcastle to provide life-saving solutions for society.

Teaching at Newcastle helps students go on to tackle some of the challenges we face. We’ve spoken to a:

  • former student who developed equipment for early detection of breast cancer
  • PhD student who has been helping the ambulance service become more efficient by using ‘big data’
An illustration of how the wearable tech bra might communicate breast cancer screening results from remote areas to where the data can be analysed.

Eddie Ng Yin Kwee, Associate Professor

Eddie Ng Yin Kwee currently holds three US patents for wearable technology. They could revolutionise the diagnosis of breast cancer. They could lead to improved survival rates.

Eddie is an Associate Professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

First Warning System for breast cancer

His First Warning System (FWS) integrates into a bra. It captures biometric data and monitors thermal metabolic changes in breast tissue.

Wireless data transfer to the FWS Breast Cancer Core Lab for assessment means the technology is usable in remote locations.

It could raise the accuracy of breast cancer assessment to more than 75%. It is much cheaper than alternative methods such as ultrasound.

This means it could be useful to millions of women from rural areas of countries such as India. They have limited or no access to early-diagnostic tools.

This iTBra has developed with US medical technology company Cyrcadia Health Inc. It is currently awaiting final FDA approval in the US.

Eddie is working to see if the same technique could provide early warning of strokes. This is from a non-contact/non-invasive screening of patients with carotid artery stenosis as well as for superficial vein finder.

The rigorous and demanding character of the Newcastle course provided me with a solid background in classical mechanics. It's a foundation that enabled me to enter a multi-disciplinary field in both biomedical engineering and sustainable energy.

Eddie Ng Yin Kwee, Associate Professor

Unusual start in marine engineering

This ground-breaking medical technology is perhaps not something you would expect. Eddie began with a diploma in marine engineering.

He was working on a super tanker in the Persian Gulf during 1985. The Iran-Iraq war made it too dangerous for the vessel to move.

His father urged him to leave his job because it had become too dangerous. He started to study marine engineering at Newcastle, but switched to mechanical engineering.

He went on to complete his PhD in turbomachinery at Cambridge. He's a board member of the Newcastle University Industrial Advisory Board in Singapore. He's an elected Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Hayley monitors the data from movement to understand migration of species and help the ambulance service optimise call-outs.

Hayley Moore, PhD student

The North East Ambulance Service attends around half a million incidents a year. With so much pressure on the service, could big data help call handlers?

Could it help them decide whether to send an ambulance to an incident or just a single paramedic in a car? This would free up ambulances for more critical cases.

Gleaning insight from 20,000 emergency calls

Hayley Moore is a PhD student at Newcastle University’s EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cloud Computing for Big Data. She spent four months gleaning insights from 200,000 calls made to the service at the end of 2018.

The results of her study are being assessed before identifying next steps. They could include an algorithm to help call handlers decide on response to incidents.

“I study enormous amounts of data, so didn’t realise their data set felt so big to the ambulance service. But I was talking to one of the directors one day and told him I was looking at 200,000 calls. He said, ‘this is huge...'

Hayley Moore, PhD student

Data defining Hayley's studies

Hayley’s PhD is in the movement of groups of animals and birds, such as flocks of starlings. It may seem to have little in common with the movement of ambulances.

But understanding both requires the analysis and manipulation of large amounts of information. Her studies involve terabytes of data, dwarfing the number of emergency calls.

Hayley, 25, says: “I was looking to see whether there were groups of people that didn’t need such a severe response. If someone rings up with chest pains, for example, the current idea is to get an ambulance to them within 18 minutes.

"But if they are a 25-year-old woman who isn’t overweight, it is actually more likely they are having a panic attack. The model would recognise a young woman with chest pains probably isn’t as critical as an older male with chest pains.

Helping a service overwhelmed by its data

“I study enormous amounts of data, so didn’t realise their data set felt so big to the ambulance service. But I was talking to one of the directors one day and told him I was looking at 200,000 calls. He said, ‘this is huge, we’ve never done anything with that amount of data before.”

Study at Newcastle

Study at Newcastle equips students with the knowledge and skills to tackle challenges in the real world. It help solve problems faced by our society.