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Overarching themes

We’re particularly interested in receiving applications in the following strategic areas but we welcome strong applications from other disciplines and areas.

Advanced materials for medicine and health

Novel medical approaches to improve human health and well-being are essential for maintaining the UK’s internationally leading position in medical technology. A new generation of smart biomaterials is required. Biomedical materials is a key theme within the Henry Royce Institute and we plan to accelerate the discovery, manufacture and translation of biomaterials through a platform of state-of-the-art equipment. Our two identified grand challenges of advanced biomaterials research are restoring biological function with minimal invasiveness, such as by regenerative medicine, novel prosthetics and implants, and developing new therapies that reduce patient risk and improve efficacy at lower cost.

Ageing populations

The ageing of the population raises crucial economic, social and health-care challenges. Improvements to health, autonomy and well-being in later life might come from advances in biological and medical science; development of new technologies and materials; reorganisation of health and social care; organisational changes and changes in the ways we organise societies and improved physical and social environments. Research into this wide array of issues is especially important in the context of a population that faces substantial inequalities across the life course, such as that in the Greater Manchester area, where high proportions of the population need health and social care, and there are wide disparities in participation in economic, social and civic life. Particular areas of strength in ageing research at UoM include:

  • Social ageing – Research into longitudinal, life-course perspectives; ageing and inequalities; global ageing; environments of ageing including urban infrastructures; work, pensions and retirement; financial gerontology; job redesign and organisational change; and ageing and everyday life.
  • Ageing and health – Research into public health and falls; care services and care; technology and ageing; those with chronic disease such as arthritis, stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers and dementias; and those ageing with disabilities such as deafness and blindness, mobility problems, and problems with the activities of daily living.
  • Biological ageing – research into the biological mechanisms behind how we age, why we age, and why age-related chronic illnesses develop. This research brings potential for the development of treatments and interventions that improve well-being in later life.

Biomedical imaging and image computing

Imaging and image computing exploit technology to provide new insights in biomedical research and new tools for clinical practice. We want to integrate strengths in imaging technology, bioimaging, preclinical imaging, clinical imaging and image computing (reconstruction, visualisation and analytics) to generate impact, with particular emphasis on opportunities presented by access to very large data sets and links to other data sources, such as genomics.

Data sciences

eHealth, including devolved health and social care, and health informatics

eHealth develops innovative software for health-care research within the NHS, and the public and private sectors. Our mission is to make sense of local health care through better integrated and analysed information, while preserving patient confidentiality. Connected Health Cities will be piloted in four city regions, one of which is Greater Manchester, in the first phase of the Health North initiative – a £20m investment to seed learning health systems. Health North aims to test at scale the methodology of learning health systems through continuous care pathway redesign and quality improvement, informed by analysis of routinely collected health data.

Digital Trust and Security (Cybersecurity)

Digital trust and security addresses the technical, social and behavioural issues that underpin the trust that individuals and society place in the digital information systems and infrastructure that increasingly underpin our lives. Involving concepts of risk and assurance, it requires a multidisciplinary approach, with inputs ranging from maths and computer science to social science, business studies and psychology.


Fintech is a new financial industry that uses technology to improve financial activities. Fintech comprises applications, processes, products, or business models in the financial services industry, composed of one or more complementary financial service and provided as an end-to-end process via the Internet.


Legal technology traditionally referred to the application of technology and software to help law firms with practice management, document storage, billing, accounting and electronic discovery. Legaltech now more commonly refers to technology start-ups disrupting the practice of law by giving people access to online software. This reduces or in some cases eliminates the need to consult a lawyer, or connects people with lawyers more efficiently through online marketplaces and lawyer-matching websites.

Smart cities

A smart city is a place where the traditional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital and telecommunication technologies, for the benefit of its inhabitants and businesses. Smart sectors utilised by cities include transport, energy, health care, water and waste. The smart city concept goes beyond the use of technology for better resource use and reduced emissions. It means smarter urban transport networks, upgraded water supply and waste disposal facilities, and more efficient ways to light and heat buildings. It also encompasses a more interactive and responsive city administration, and safer and more secure public spaces.

BBC Data Science Research Partnership

The Data Science Research Partnership will be at the forefront of machine learning in the media industry, helping to create a more personal BBC that can inform, educate and entertain in new ways. The partnership brings together industry experts from across the BBC and world-leading data scientists from The University of Manchester, as well as from the universities of Bristol, Edinburgh and Surrey, Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London, Ulster University and University College London. Focus will be on the following four areas, all combining anonymised BBC data with cutting-edge algorithms and analytics:

  • Understanding audiences – Use data to better understand what audiences want from the BBC, why they want it, and what impact their programmes or services have on them.
  • Understanding content – Explore what machine learning can teach the BBC about its programmes and services, and what it stands to gain from it.
  • Curation and personalisation – create a more personal BBC, designing tools and algorithms to help programme makers with editorial and commissioning decisions.
  • Content of the future – design future audience experiences, based on BBC R&D’s object-based broadcasting concept, and new forms of data journalism.

Digital humanities and digital creative

Our digital humanities research focuses on the ways in which computational tools and methodologies can be applied to humanities research in the widest sense, working across the range of arts and humanities disciplines and the social and economic sciences. We seek to exploit the potential of new data and digital technologies at scale, and have institutional specialisms in digital cultural heritage, data science and language analysis. We work in strategic partnership with the creative industries, government and policymakers, and major cultural institutions, which creates opportunities for staff and student placements.

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 refers to automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing. Industry 4.0 can create what has become known as a ‘smart factory’. Within modular, structured smart factories, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralised decisions. Our industry 4.0 research covers data analytics, robotics and machine learning, but also economic, social, cultural, ethical and human behavioural aspects in relation to technology, automation and data analytics, including:

  • the implications of employment restructuring for skills and training requirements;
  • economic inequalities within and between societies;
  • changes in the quality and sources of news and information consumed by voters, and particularly the growing problems of social media generated misinformation or fake news;
  • the growth of the economic, social and cultural impact on workplaces, households and wider society.

See how you can apply your expertise to a range of research and teaching in each of our Faculties: Biology, Medicine and Health Humanities Science and Engineering