Building technology for future health

Michael Crichton is a FLIER participant and Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Heriot-Watt University. We asked him what he has learned on the FLIER programme and how it’s helping him to make a difference in building technology for future health.


Q: What issue in health research do you want to take on and why?

A: With a growing and aging population, the way we deliver healthcare has to change, or be constrained by resources. This will be critical in the years to come. My research centres around new ways to monitor or diagnose patients using simple mechanical methods that engage with our soft tissues, such as the skin. This means that instead of invasive tests, there is scope for simpler wearable technologies that track our health. Remote healthcare has a huge potential and is a very exciting area to work in.

Q: What have you learnt on the FLIER programme and how are you putting it into practice?

A: I’ve felt less restrained in my thinking. FLIER has given me more confidence to step out of my comfort zone. That doesn’t mean that things have always worked well, but it’s allowed me to adapt more to things when they have gone wrong too.

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?

A: I’d tell myself to take time to reflect on successes more. All too often I didn’t value success as much as I should have. It is so easy in academia to compare yourself to others and play down your own achievements. Instead, celebrate them. Realise that most people have ‘imposter syndrome’ and that your current position is as good a place as any to lead something new.

Q: What are your hopes for the future in the health sector?

A: We need an equitable healthcare environment, and we are incredibly lucky to have the NHS to care for us no matter who we are. But the health sector needs to adapt to changing populations, technologies, expectations and of course pandemics. I’d love to see my technologies develop to support and enhance our NHS and other health services, for the benefit of patients. This requires a substantial combination of academic, industry and third-sector experts, together with supportive government policies. I hope to be able to contribute to this with my FLIER colleagues.


Dr Michael Crichton is a participant in Round 2 of the Academy of Medical Sciences’ FLIER programme, a unique programme that will develop leaders of the future who can create collaborations across academia, industry, the NHS and government to drive innovation.

The FLIER programme is generously supported by the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation and the Government Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy ‘Investment in Research Talent’ fund. You can find out more about our funding model and explore our donors here, or visit our Support Us webpage to explore ways to help our work.