Medical Education Lab (MEL)

Performance training and assessment: The Medical Education Lab (MEL) works across disciplines bringing together clinicians, academics and SMEs to develop problem based solutions for medical training Technologies include digital tools for Med x (Virtual, augmented and mixed realities); haptics; eye-tracking; 3D object recognition; data capture systems; human-robot interaction; gaming and visualisation technologies; robotics for capturing surgical skills and training.

  • These measures provide opportunities for feedback and reflection. By measuring attention and movement kinematics including hand-eye coordination, posture and gestures during procedures, learning profiles can be identified and individual differences can be categorised to predict performance, and provide objective feedback to learners. We use the expert performance approach (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1993) to capture expert performance, identify underlying mechanisms and develop expertise.  

Dr Mel McKendrick is the founding CEO of a start-up company Optomize Ltd. which developed ‘Optimal’ software to measure and automatically measure eye tracking to identify the underlying mechanisms of learning Optomize – Medical training software, eye tracking and human factors testing services. We have expanded this work in anaesthesia into laparoscopy, orthopaedics and other types of surgery as well as disseminating our work to general medical education audiences. We have also been looking at the underlying visual perception involved in interpreting complex patterns in visual scans. We have been working with NHS Tayside and the University of Dundee to use high fidelity Theil cadavers as the most anatomically realistic simulators possible.

See latest research papers Research – SPECTRA Labs (

Working with Industry

We have been involved in leading research which is the first in the world to measure objectively performance of regional anaesthetist trainees directly on a patient procedure. We have worked with leading global manufacturers like B.Braun and Philips to investigate the clinical utility of new technologies and we regularly work with NHS Tayside.

Current projects

Design and validation of an augmented reality system for simulated thoracic epidural block training on the soft embalmed Thiel cadaver

  • Funder: National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia (“NIAA”) and the British Journal of Anaesthesia (“BJA”)
  • Collaborators – University of Dundee, Optomize Ltd., XReality Labs Ltd., DeBlur Ltd., Prof Graeme McLeod, Tayside Health Board.

Does cadaver simulation training offer best clinical performance behaviour during ultrasound guided regional anaesthesia?

  • Funder: British Journal of Anaesthesia (“BJA”)
  • Collaborators – University of Dundee, Prof Graeme McLeod, Optomize Ltd.

Knowledge Exchange

We have disseminated this work to the general public, academic general interest audiences, the military and charities to encourage STEM take up in minority or challenged groupings. See selected invited talks below.

  • McKendrick, M. (2022). “Do you Look or See”? ASiT Innovation Summit: Future of Surgery Conference, 15th November
  • McKendrick, M.  (2022) at the 34th Edinburgh Anaesthesia Festival presenting talk on ‘Optical Learning Enhancements’, Wed 17th Aug at The Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh.
  • McKendrick, M. (2021). ‘Human Factors in Operator Training’ at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers Seminar: Engineering with Human Factors: improving Reliability, Productivity and Safety, 23 Nov.
  • McKendrick, M. (2021). B.Braun/Aesculap training Academy – Regional Anaesthesia and Education webinar – The Expert Performance Approach. 9th June.
  • McKendrick (2017) Eye tracking as a clinical skills training tool and objective measure of performance. Guest Speaker at the British Orthopaedic Association Congress, Sep 21st, Liverpool.
  • McKendrick, M. Corner, G., Tafili, T., Kean, D.E., Obgregon, M. & McLeod, G. (2016). Eye-tracking to measure the trainee learning curve in ultrasound-guided regional anaesthesia. Invited talk at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, 3rd March.