New £28m Centre to Forge the Next Generation of AI Digital Healthcare Innovators


A new £28 million UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training at Imperial College London will train over 120 researchers to develop patient-ready technology.

The UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Healthcare will train a new generation of PhD-level researchers, including clinical PhD fellows and allied healthcare professionals, to develop AI systems that address healthcare challenges with a focus on patient needs and societal values.

Centre Director and Principal Investigator Professor Aldo Faisal, from the Departments of Computing and Bioengineering, said: “This is an incredible opportunity for the UK and NHS, and one that demonstrates Imperial College London’s thriving digital healthcare ecosystem.

“The Centre will allow us to develop a new generation of more than 120 future leaders who we will recruit over the next five years. During their PhD studies, they develop patient-ready solutions that align with patient needs. We aim to help transform the healthcare ecosystem and help reduce the unmet demand for health and care.

“Designing patient-ready AI requires not only state-of-the-art research in AI and healthcare, but also understanding the regulatory, legal, ethical, and human constraints specific to health and care. This means it is extremely challenging to develop and deploy practical AI systems. We have created over the past five years an ecosystem of experts, institutions, stakeholders, data, and networks so that our new UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Healthcare is ready to face this challenge head-on.”

The new Centre aims to develop AI technologies that will:

  • Make healthcare provision more efficient and effective by increasing productivity, freeing clinicians from routine tasks to allow them to focus on critical and complex problems
  • Develop AI-based diagnostics and digital biomarkers that can detect disease earlier and faster, and monitor health more precisely at home
  • Develop AI-based systems that support clinical decision-making to deliver optimised personal treatments, giving patients access to the best-in-care treatment strategies wherever they live
  • Accelerate the discovery of new drugs, disease mechanisms, and treatment pathways using AI, with the ability to link to human lifestyle data, genetics and medical records

Prevent disease and maximise the healthy life span of citizens through AI-informed digital public health technologies, such as digitally nudging them towards healthier behaviours The Centre will bring together clinical partners such as the National Institute for Health and Care Research, three NHS trusts including Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, UK medical regulators such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), professional organisations such as Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), as well as major industry partners and start-ups.

The new Centre follows the success of Professor Faisal’s ongoing £20 million UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in AI for Healthcare, which was launched in 2019. Both are referred to as AI4Health.

The new Centre is one of only twelve new Centres for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence receiving a total of £117 million in funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – and the only one focusing on healthcare. This Government investment aims to ensure that the UK has the skills needed to seize the potential of the AI era, and to nurture the talent that will push the AI revolution forward.

Announcing the 12 centres, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan MP, said: “The UK is at the very front of the global race to turn AI’s awesome potential into a giant leap forward for people’s quality of life and productivity at work, all while ensuring this technology works safely, ethically and responsibly.

“The plans we are announcing today will future-proof our nation’s skills base, meaning we can reap the benefits of AI as it continues to develop. At the same time, we are taking the first steps to put the power of this technology to work, for good, across Government and society.”

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “The UK is in a strong position to harness the power of AI to transform many aspects of our lives for the better. Crucial to this endeavour is nurturing the talented people and teams we need to apply AI to a broad spectrum of challenges, from healthy aging to sustainable agriculture, ensuring its responsible and trustworthy adoption. UKRI is investing £117 million in Centres for Doctoral Training to develop the talented researchers and innovators we need for success.”

The first cohort of UKRI AI CDT students will start in the 2024/2025 academic year, for which recruitment will begin shortly.

  • Dr Aldo Faisal
    Dr Aldo Faisal
    Senior Lecturer in Neurotechnology