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Earlier detection of priority diseases

Cost-effective, world class care for more patients

Early detection, accurate diagnosis and optimised treatment

Access to world class care for as many patients as possible relies on faster and more accurate diagnosis. Earlier interventions for diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, neurogenerative, cardiovascular disease or COVID-19 will deliver improved patient outcomes. Our work is supporting earlier diagnostics through a proposed national digital infrastructure for population-level studies. The improved infrastructure will provide patient stratification data and more effective disease management to increase confidence and reproducibility in diagnosis and treatment. This will be enabled by the digitisation of the NHS including digital pathology and radiology, and the use of artificial intelligence or machine learning tools where appropriate.

This work will help address healthcare challenges which include:

  • increasing the uptake of new diagnostic and therapeutics
  • support for greater interoperability and integration of medical and non-medical data sets
  • real-time, sensitive and accurate non-invasive diagnostics
  • optimised treatment delivery and verification for each patient
  • improved quantitative understanding of biological systems and processes 
  • rapid prediction of therapeutic effects to make clinical trials more efficient
  • innovation in precision medicine, diagnostics, telemedicine and assisted living through the convergence of omics technologies, informatics and digital sensors or wearables
  • supporting the use of simulations which need reliable data as the basis of their predictions

Research to enable earlier diagnosis and save lives

Our research experts are supporting programmes through:

  • development of traceability and validated measurements and standards that support the drive toward disease fingerprinting, population phenotyping, digital health and precision medicine
  • support for the convergence and application of multiscale biology, biological imaging, structural biology and omics technologies for population studies
  • establishment of metrology infrastructure and traceability to support the optimisation of existing and new treatments and clinical imaging diagnostic modalities, including guidelines, standards and training
  • development of traceable, quantitative, multiscale (bio)medical imaging and automated methodologies for image analysis, covering phantoms, validation and use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • support for improved data analytics and uncertainty analysis tools to reduce the number of physical tests needed in safety assessments and animal toxicity studies
  • improved data quality and integrity frameworks to ensure common data standards and increasing interoperability of data (medical and non-medical) for detection, diagnosis and treatment

The programmes above are underpinned by our work as the UK’s National metrology institute and the realisation and maintenance of SI units along with primary and secondary standards.

If you have a research collaboration where our expertise can help, please contact the team and discuss your project 

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Case study

Rapid prediction of immunoassay performance


Case study

Risk-based decision making for effective diagnosis of heart disease


Case study

Simulating radiation therapy using virtual reality


Case study

Improving confidence in intra-operative cancer detection technologies


Working with NPL

Our researchers are at the forefront of new innovations that promise to deliver new solutions to healthcare challenges, and also play a vital role in providing the standards and assurance to accelerate their route to market. Learn more about our research areas and working with our experts.  

If you have a research collaboration where our expertise can help, please can contact the team and discuss your challenge.

Contact us

Building a 'Google Earth' of cancer

The Grand Challenge, a new Cancer Research UK initiative, aims to overcome the biggest challenges facing cancer researchers in a global effort to beat cancer sooner Funded through the scheme, NPL's Professor Josephine Bunch leads a group of international and multidisciplinary chemists, physicists and biologists from the UK to develop a reproducible, standardised way to fully map tumours with extraordinary precision.

Google earth project

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Find out more about the range of work we do in life sciences and health.

Work with us

Our research and measurement solutions support innovation and product development. We work with companies to deliver business advantage and commercial success.
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