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Manchester Expert Backs New Multidisciplinary Task Force To Combat Pandemics

A world-leading materials expert from The University of Manchester is helping to launch a new global task force to drive innovation in digital health to combat pandemics like COVID-19 – and ambitious outputs could eventually include building ‘smart cities’ that feature anti-virus defenses.

Professor Henry Yi Li, Chair of Textile Science and Engineering at The University of Manchester, is a co-founder of the International Digital Health and Intelligent Fibre Science and Technology Innovation Organization (IDH-IF-STIO) to be spotlighted at a global summit this week (July 10).

The group is looking to fast-track developments in ground-breaking areas like advanced PPEs, smart materials and wearable technologies that could potentially be plugged into wider health and bio-security systems as part of digitally connected ‘smart cities’ to help safeguard communities of the future.

“Specifically, we would be looking to address global health challenges that have been identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the fields of intelligent fibres, textile functional materials, electronic textile materials and wearable devices, as well as digital health technology that can be applied to disease prevention.”

Professor Yi Li added that the new research and innovation group will focus on key, interrelated themes, including:

  • smart materials (ie electronic fibre/yarn/fabric), micro/nano electronic technology, bio-security technology (ie hazard perception) and smart wearables
  • applications to support smart homes and smart cities, including the promotion of healthy lifestyles and the prevention of infectious and non-communicable diseases.
  • research and development of disease prevention and control system, public health systems, and pandemic emergency mechanism systems in medical and health institutions.

To progress research in these exciting areas the IDH-IF-STIO is planning to organise a range of international activities, including hosting regular scientific and technological cooperation forums and platforms, running international academic conferences, as well as setting up international committees for academic and technical professionals.

The proposed new network will be introduced at the 13th Textile Bioengineering and Information Symposium on Friday, July 10 which will have the theme ‘Combating COVID-19 Pandemic with Science and Technology Innovations’.

Professor Yi Li will also be a keynote speaker at the online symposium and his talk will be entitled ‘Combating COVID-19 pandemic with science and technology innovations’.

Professor Yi Li is an expert across the biomaterials field – including smart functional fibres, nano functional textile materials, wearable devices, tissue engineering and nanoscale drug delivery systems – and has led on innovation to develop and produce PPE equipment in response to pandemics.

The International Digital Health and Intelligent Fibre Science and Technology Innovation Organization (IDH-IF-STIO) is supported by over 20 universities, organisations and enterprises across Europe and Asia, including State Key Laboratory of Fiber Material Modification, Donghua University, China; State Key Laboratory of Intelligent Textile Materials and Products, Department of Materials, University of Manchester, United Kingdom; Xi’an Polytechnic University, China; ENSAIT, France; Textile Bioengineering and Informatics Society (TBIS), United Kingdom.


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