News

Constantin Coussios elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering

4th October 2019

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Magdalen Fellow Professor Constantin Coussios has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in recognition of his outstanding and continuing contributions to biomedical engineering.

As well as being Professorial Fellow of Engineering Science, Constantin holds the first Statutory Chair in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Oxford, is the Director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, and a co-founder of OrganOx, OxSonics, and OrthoSon.

Since 1997, he has led all engineering aspects of the development of the world’s first normothermic perfusion device for improved liver preservation: the ‘metra’.

The ‘metra’ enables the preservation of organs in a functioning state for up to 24 hours, twice as long as conventional cold storage, and is currently used in all seven liver transplant centres in the UK, as well as in 10 other countries across four continents.

The OrganOx device received the Institute of Engineering and Technology innovation awards for ‘Best Healthcare Technology’, ‘Best Intelligent System’ and ‘Best Emerging Technology Design’ in 2013, and was given a positive recommendation by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence earlier this year. It was also one of four finalists for the 50th Anniversary MacRobert Award.

In 2014, Constantin launched the Oxford Centre for Drug Delivery Devices , a multi-disciplinary research centre within the University supported by a 5-year EPSRC Programme Grant in partnership with 12 industrial partners from across the medical device and pharmaceutical sectors. A key focus of the Centre is the exploitation of physical mechanisms triggered by ultrasound, magnetic fields or shock waves, to improve the delivery and penetration of drugs into tumours.

In that same year, a second company, OxSonics, was launched to address one of the major limitations of cancer drugs:  typically less than three per cent of the systemically administered drug dose will reach the target tumour and will not reach cancer cells that are far away from blood vessels. Constantin identified that tiny injectable bubbles cavitating during ultrasound excitation could act as micropumps to transport the drug throughout the tumour. He developed new patented methods using tiny particles to sustain cavitation within the body, and be able to image cavitation to enable real-time monitoring of drug delivery.

In pre-clinical models, this new approach has shown up to 50-fold increase in the delivery of drugs, and up to a 10,000-fold increase in therapeutic activity of biologics, as well as significant enhancements in the delivery and efficacy of checkpoint-inhibitor antibodies for immuno-oncology.

In 2016, working closely with Magdalen Engineering Fellow Professor Robin Cleveland, he co-founded OrthoSon, to commercialize a minimally invasive technique to repair intervertebral discs.

The following year he received the 2017 Silver Medal of the Royal Academy of Engineering for his contributions to the invention and translation of novel medical devices and therapeutic interventions into clinical practice.

“The boundaries of what engineering is and what it can be are being redrawn,” said Constantin. “It is therefore wonderful to receive such recognition from the Royal Academy for science carried out at the interface between technology, biology and medicine.

“I very much hope that this will encourage young innovators to deploy their skills in the life-changing field of biomedical engineering.”

The College would like to congratulate Constantin on his election, and on his remarkable achievements which are changing the lives of people around the world.