Professor Paul Breen

Research Professor in Biomedical & Human Technology

Piecing together solutions: innovative technology for health and wellbeing.

Paul Breen is a biomedical engineer who addresses intractable clinical problems through creation of new technology.

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Many real-world health and wellbeing problems require multidisciplinary teams of academics, clinicians, consumers and industry to deliver solutions using a broad spectrum of technologies.

Professor Breen and the Biomedical & Human Technology research group have created an environment conducive to identifying and addressing these needs through excellent science and engineering.

He focuses on identifying health and wellbeing problems and solving these by creating new devices and technology, leveraging the current state-of-the-art.

What I love about biomedical engineering is the focus on the problem. There is a world of technology available, but these are just pieces of Lego we can put together to create anything we like. In Biomed, we like building things that help people.

Professor Breen’s research addresses significant clinical needs identified by clinicians.

He focuses on the 5 D’s: Death (prevention or ease), Disease (treatment), Disability (rehabilitation or assistance), Diagnosis (at point-of-care and longitudinally) and Dollars (reduce the cost of healthcare).

Typically, this leads to new systems and devices co-designed with intended users and stakeholders. These start as proof-of-concept prototypes validated by primary research and clinical trials and then evolve into commercially developed technologies.


The new devices and technologies created by Professor Breen and his team address currently unmet healthcare, clinical or scientific needs to increase efficiency and quality of life, and reduce costs.

His work has applications for the medtech, healthcare, scientific research, defence and wellness industries.

For example, he has created solutions for enhancing sensory perception that has been lost, developed wearable technology to monitor human and animal physiology, and developed a new method of tissue incubation to support experimental research.

I imagine a future where we have a process by which the world's problems are efficiently matched with the scientific, engineering, society and industry capacity to deliver solutions that work for those that need them.

Two Australian start-up companies have been formed based on Professor Breen’s collaborative work at WSU.

PAYO Scientific, of which Professor Breen is a Founder/Director with WSU colleague Dr Yossi Buskila, manufactures an incubation system for tissue samples called the Braincubator. This is a new recovery incubation system capable of extending the lifespan of an acute brain slice from 6–12 hours to more than 36 hours, increasing potential experimentation time. It does this by controlling the temperature of the incubated artificial cerebral spinal fluid while continuously passing the fluid through a UVC filtration system and simultaneously monitoring temperature and pH.

Professor Breen and WSU colleague A/Prof Gaetano Gargiulo’s Medical Monitoring Solutions, trading as Saiiv™, commercialises specific-purpose physiological monitoring technologies. It develops devices embedded with morphic sensors that detect subtle volume shifts, or morphing, of the body. These can be caused by movement of the lungs or heart, for example. This simultaneous and continuous monitoring of vital signs can enable evaluation or monitoring of cardiovascular hypertension, cardiac and respiration function and peripheral vascular competence.


Professor Breen received his BEng degree in Computer Engineering (First Class Honours) in 2003 and his PhD in 2007, both from the University of Limerick. He also has a Postgrad Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education from NUI Galway (2008). He was awarded a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2007 from the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology.

He has worked as a researcher in various laboratories and departments around the world including the University of Twente/Roessingh Research & Development, The Netherlands; European Space Agency, Nordwick; Harvard Medical School and the School of Medicine, WSU.

In 2013, he was appointed Senior Research Lecturer in the Biomedical Engineering & Neuromorphic Systems group at the MARCS Institute.  Since then, he has been awarded 20 competitive research grants, bringing his combined total research budget to date, to more than $20 million. These funds were awarded by a variety of sources including the US Department of Defence, NHMRC, NIH, MRFF, NSW and National Australian Departments of Industry and the Australian Association of Gerontology.

Key outputs

Morphic Sensing – A milestone in the development of this sensor class. T. Jayarathna, G. D. Gargiulo, and P. P. Breen, “Continuous vital monitoring during sleep and light activity using carbon-black elastomer sensors,” Sensors, vol. 20, no. 6, p. 1583, 2020.

HEXAS – A key paper in the development of the HEXAS stimulator. D. Karpul, G. K. Cohen, G. D. Gargiulo, A. Schaik, S. McIntyre, and P. P. Breen, “Low-power transcutaneous current stimulator for wearable applications,” Biomed. Eng. Online, vol. 16, no. 1, 2017.

Subsensory Electrical Neural Stimulation – A seminal paper highlighting the potential of this technology. P. P. Breen, J. M. Serrador, C. O’Tuathail, L. R. Quinlan, C. McIntosh, and G. ÓLaighin, “Peripheral tactile sensory perception of older adults improved using subsensory electrical noise stimulation,” Med. Eng. Phys., vol. 38, no. 8, 2016.

Braincubator – Extending use of Braincubator to retinal tissue. M. Cameron, O. Kékesi, J. W. Morley, J. Tapson, P. P. Breen, A. Van Schaik, Y. Buskila, “Calcium imaging of AM dyes following prolonged incubation in acute neuronal tissue,” PLoS One, vol. 11, no. 5, p. e0155468, 2016.

Dopamine Release in the Retina – Created a mathematical model of Dopamine turnover to explain empirical data. V. Pérez-Fernández, N. Milosavljevic, A. E. Allen, K. A. Vessey, A. I. Jobling, E. L. Fletcher, P. P. Breen, J. W. Morley, M. A. Cameron, “Rod photoreceptor activation alone defines the release of dopamine in the retina,” Curr. Biol., vol. 29, no. 5, pp. 763–774, 2019.


Key to Professor Breen’s successes has been his focus on transdisciplinary research in collaboration with clinicians, consumers and industry.

He brings together teams with diverse transdisciplinary expertise to address problems identified by clinicians and their patients. The interactive nature of this exercise is key to innovation.

Professor Breen works closely with clinical/academic colleagues and industry partners to commercialise new solutions.

His collaborators include academics, clinicians, and businesses both nationally and internationally, such as Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, NASA, Department of Veterans Affairs USA, NUI Galway, Kings College London, Oventus Medical, Medical Monitoring Solutions and Durapol, among others. His work has led to the several start-ups and he supports several others in the journey to commercialisation.

There are many critical unmet clinical needs worldwide, a growing array of technical capabilities and highly skilled individuals in various specialities. We are only one Lego block in the solution; we collaborate to find the rest.

+61 2 9772 6570
Western Sydney University Westmead campus