Professor Tim Baker’s efforts during the response to the pandemic have been recognised in 2020’s new Honours list, and he has been awarded an MBE for services to healthcare in the UK and abroad. Tim is the engineering co-lead for the UCL Ventura project that developed a breathing aid that can help keep COVID-19 patients out of intensive care.
The breathing aid, known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), has been used extensively to help COVID-19 patients with serious respiratory problems to breathe more easily, when oxygen via a face mask alone alone is insufficient. The team of mechanical engineers at UCL and Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, together with clinicians at UCLH, worked round the clock to reverse engineer a CPAP device that could be rapidly manufactured and delivered to NHS hospitals ahead of a predicted surge in hospital admissions due to COVID-19.
The breathing aids are now being used in over 120 NHS hospitals and findings show that administering CPAP prevents around 50% of patients from needing invasive ventilation. The designs have been made freely available for international use and have now been downloaded by over 1950 teams in 105 countries – Tim and the team are now supporting these teams to develop locally and around 20 of these countries have moved to mass-manufacture.
Professor Tim Baker, UCL Mechanical Engineering said:
“It has been an absolute privilege to lead an incredible team of engineers and doctors from UCL in partnership with industry. What we achieved as a team is a result of everyone’s determination and commitment at a time of unprecedented need. The device was approved for use in only 10 days and 10,000 were delivered within four weeks. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, patients across the NHS and around the world are being treated with the UCL-Ventura breathing aid. I am proud to have worked alongside staff from the NHS in the response to Covid, and I am honoured to represent the entire team in receiving this award.”
Professor Tim Baker did his PhD within UCL Mechanical Engineering’s internal combustion engine research group. His PhD work focused on intake systems development in collaboration with Ford Motor Company. After leaving UCL Tim worked in motorsport starting with Formula 1, which saw his career evolve from engine development to engine design.
He has designed engines that have won races and championships at global level, notably class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Safari Rally with Ford and winning the World Rallycross Championship. His close links to the motosport industry were integral to enabling the partnership with Mercedes-AMG HPP throughout the UCL Ventura project.
Find out more about UCL Ventura:
The UCL Ventura project is a collaboration between UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering, UCL Mechanical Engineering, University College London Hospital (UCLH) and Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains. Find out more about it on the UCL Ventura website here.